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A woman in a home for unmarried mothers whose baby was given away in the 1960s has been sharing her memories with the cast of a Lichfield theatre company to help them prepare for their next production.
The young mother was at Lyncroft House in Birmingham, a mother and baby home during the 1950s and 1960s. It was run by the Salvation Army and provided a safe and secure place for teenage girls to prepare for childbirth and the subsequent, and immediate, adoption of their babies.
The woman has been helping the cast of Be My Baby, being presented by Different Animal Theatre Group at the Lichfield Garrick.
Director Dan Branch said: “She told us of the morning she said goodbye to her newborn son and her eventual reunion with him only three years ago.
“This has added real depth to the performances given by the cast and caused more than a few tears when reading the genuine letters that reunited mother and son.”
The play, by Amanda Whittington, is set in the swinging 60s when Mary, an idealistic teenager, finds herself single and seven months pregnant.
Her mother is petrified of the social implications and so takes her to St Saviours, a Church of England-run mother and baby home. Mary’s baby will be adopted immediately after it is born.
The girls in the home find comfort in each other’s friendship, but ultimately they must face their individual tragedies alone.
Appearing as the four girls are Hannah Wyss as Mary, Frankie Leonard as Queenie, Hannah Davies as Norma and Ellie Galvin as Dolores. Matron is played by Amanda Robinson and Sarah Stanley takes on the role of Mrs Adams.
Different Animal’s production of this moving play will include song and dance, as the girls find comfort in Mary’s Dansette record player and 1960s girl-group pop. Be My Baby follows Mary and her fellow inmates as they cling to youthful fantasies of romance and marriage but instead are drawn inexorably towards the harsh realities of adulthood.
Dan said: “The cast have been using prosthetic ‘bumps’ in rehearsal in order for them to get used to the restrictions to movement and pace that pregnancy obviously brings.
“This became increasingly important when the girls began singing and dancing to 1960s girl group hits such as I Only Want To Be With You, You Can’t Hurry Love and, of course, Be My Baby, as it is easy to get carried away with the choreography!
“The play is incredibly moving, but also has moments of real joy and humour as the girls discover the meaning of true friendship.”
Be My Baby runs at the Lichfield Garrick Studio from April 16 to 20. Tickets are available by calling 01543 412121 or visiting www.lichfieldgarrick.com.
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