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13 November 2014

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You are in: Dorset > People > Profiles > Ann Jellicoe's Western Women

Ann Jellicoe

Ann Jellicoe

Ann Jellicoe's Western Women

A play by a Lyme Regis woman tells the dramatic events of the town's Royalist Siege during the English Civil War, in 1644. Creator of the Community Play Ann Jellicoe talks to BBC Dorset.

Ann Jellicoe from Lyme Regis has had a long and varied career.

Actress, writer, director, and a playwrite of the Royal Court, when she moved to Dorset 35 years ago she decided to further her interest in the 'open stage' and alternative theatre venues.

So she contacted Woodroffe School in Lyme, and asked if she could write a play for them.

They said yes, and soon most of the town was involved. This began what became known as the 'Community Play Movement', and the play was about the Duke of Monmouth's Rebellion and what happened in Lyme - and was a huge success.

She says: "It's always been a huge sadness to me that more people weren't involved - in any way - with theatre, and yet here were people getting involved, and from this followed more projects in Bridport and Dorchester."

Siege of Lyme

Western Women was Ann's third or fourth play, she says, and was based on the Siege of Lyme, an event which occurred during the English Civil War in 1644.

She says: "It was so fierce: 4,500 royalist soldiers surrounded the town, but the Parliamentary soldiers only had 1,500 men. They became so tired that the women first of all began to stand in the line dressed as men, and then gradually began to help with the fighting, so that women were actually in the line with the men."

The play explores the women's involvement in what was obviously a completely male area, and is a story of determination, confrontation and hope.

'A dramatic re-creation'

She 'reads' the play alone, and there are at 80 characters in the story. Ann describes it as a 'dramatic re-creation'.

Ann, who is 80, worked on the play in collaboration with Tim Laycock who wrote the music, and it was an experience they both enjoyed.

Says Ann: "We so enjoyed it, so we said, 'Come on, let's do it else where'. So we're going to do it in Bridport and Dorchester, and see how we feel after that."

Listen to Ann talk about her career and Western Women.

last updated: 18/02/2009 at 15:15
created: 09/04/2008

You are in: Dorset > People > Profiles > Ann Jellicoe's Western Women

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