The May Queen Reigns Again At Belgrade This Season

Set in Coventry on May Day 2022, the focus is on Leigh, a sixteen year old who has been crowned the May Queen. But her reign is short lived, and when her crown is taken, Leigh must move on with her life, whilst dwelling on her past mistakes on that fateful day. Can she get out of her situation? And what was it that got her there in the first place? All will be explored in this one woman show…

Having first premiered in July 2021, May Queen will take to the stage once again on 25th June – 2nd July, starring Yasmin Dawes reprising her role as Leigh. The play has been written by Frankie Meredith, a graduate of the Lyric Young Writers Programme 2013, who is known for works such as Turkey (The Hope Theatre, 2017), Finding Peter (Theatre N16, 2018), The Olive Trade (Southwark Playhouse, 2016), and 17 (longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2019).

We sat down with Frankie to discuss the inspiration behind May Queen, her connections to Coventry, and what it is she wants audiences to take away from this modern folklore.

Where did the inspiration for May Queen come from?

Frankie Meredith: The idea was really rooted in Coventry. It was actually originally called Cofa’s Tree, which is the historical name for Coventry, but we changed the name so it became much more about Leigh, the main character. The inspiration came from telling female stories and telling their truth. It’s got a lot to do with how folklore is spoken about nowadays, the way we tell our stories, who believes us and who doesn’t.

What are the main themes of May Queen?

Frankie Meredith: The themes of May Queen are Coventry, consent, lack of consent, folklore, growing up. I spent my teenage years in Coventry which is why when I focused on writing a play set there it had to be told by a teenage character. It’s a lot to do with growing up and finding out who you are.

What is the significance of history and folklore in the story?

Frankie Meredith: There is a huge significance of folklore. It’s a lot about how women have been treated and how women are believed or not believed. It’s sort of like a modern folk tale.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the play?

Frankie Meredith: I hope audiences will take away whatever it stirs up inside them. We’ve had some quite visceral reactions so far, even during the rehearsal process.

I think some people might get a bit angry though there are funny bits too. I think it’s really important to take away how valid women’s stories are and teenage women’s stories as well.

This is a bit rogue but I was watching a Kate Nash documentary, which funnily enough May Queen’s director Balisha was also watching, though we didn’t know that at the time. Kate Nash’s fanbase is made up largely of teenage girls and she says ‘I hate that people see teenage girls as silly because they are so important, there’s nothing more important than teenage girls.’ I think that’s really true for this.

What are your connections to Coventry?

Frankie Meredith: I spent a lot of my teenage years in Coventry, and it’s very much built up who I am today.

When it came to writing a play based in Coventry, it just felt right that it was going to be told by a teenage girl because I think that is so much of my relationship with the city. I was Coventry City Soccerette in 2010, so that’s an interesting fact. My Dad gave me a blue Coventry City elephant when I was born even though I was a girl, smashing those gender stereotypes early. Elephants are actually quite a big thing in this play as well, I’ve just made that connection.

‘Yasmin Dawes as Coventry’s May Queen was spell-binding.’ – Coventry Telegraph

‘Frankie Meredith’s play is full to the brim with conceptual inventiveness’ – What’s On Stage

‘Balisha Karra’s direction and choreography of the on-stage fighting (not easy in a one-person show!) is jaw-dropping’ – Exeunt Magazine

Tickets for May Queen (25 June – 2 July) are available by phoning the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open 10:30am – 2pm, Mon – Sat), or visiting where tickets are even cheaper.
With a My Belgrade Subscription package, you can SAVE 15% when you book for 3 or 4 shows in the Belgrade’s Spring/Summer Season (March-July) and a massive 25% when you book 5 or more participating shows. Discounts only apply to full priced tickets in all but the lowest price bands.
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