Cast announcement for We Are the Lions, Mr. Manager!

We Are the Lions, Mr. Manager!

Fri 8 Sep 2017

Townsend Theatre Productions have announced that Medhavi Patel will be taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!

Patel's previous stage work has seen her star in Tales of Birbal, Trident Moon and Fragile Land, and she has starred in TV shows including Doctors and Holby City.

The role of Jayaben Desai holds particular significance to Patel after she learned she is a distant relative of the iconic leader.

We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! relives the extraordinary true story of the Grunwick Strike, a dispute that challenged the way women and immigrants are treated in the workplace.

On the 20th August 1976 a group of workers in a film processing factory in Willesden walked out in protest at their unfair working conditions, low pay and the 'bullying tactics' used by management.

Led by mostly East African Asian women, the Grunwick strike became one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history and changed the way trade unions thought about race and new immigrant communities coming to Britain in the 1970s.

The women became known as the “strikers in saris” and their fight for fair treatment was supported by thousands of trade unionists and campaigners as more than 20,000 people joined them at the picket lines on one of the mass pickets.

But the story of the Grunwick dispute is not just a story about ground-breaking solidarity. It is also the story of a remarkable woman, Jayaben Desai.

The 4ft 10in mother-of-two defiantly led the first walk-out in protest against the humiliation she and other women employees felt at the Grunwick factory.

As she left, the manager shouted at Jayaben and her colleagues to “stop chattering like monkeys in a zoo", and Jayaben replied: "What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your finger-tips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!”

Now, Jayaben's story is being brought to life for the very first time by Townsend Theatre Productions, who are seeking to relive the strikers' inspirational fight for freedom, equality and human dignity.

Written by Neil Gore, the play will tell the story of the Grunwick dispute through a mixture of stirring song, poetry, movement and dance, and the play will utilise Townsend Production's trademark cast of two characters playing multiple roles.

We Are Lions, Mr Manager! is supported by Arts Council England and Unite the Union.

For more information visit www.townsendproductions.org.uk