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UNISON East Midlands announced as sponsors of Caroline Bird’s Red Ellen

28 February 2022

Following last week’s cast announcement, today it was announced that the UNISON East Midlands, the UK’s largest trade union, will sponsor the Nottingham Playhouse staging of Red Ellen. The co-production between Nottingham Playhouse, Northern Stage and The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, written by by acclaimed poet and playwright Caroline Bird, tells the inspiring and epic story of Ellen Wilkinson, Labour MP, who was forever on the right side of history, forever on the wrong side of life.

Caught between revolutionary and parliamentary politics, Ellen fights with an unstoppable, reckless energy for a better world. Running (quite literally in some cases) into the likes of Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway, she battles to save Jewish refugees in Nazi Germany; campaigns for Britain to aid the fight against Franco’s Fascists in Spain; and leads 200 workers in the Jarrow Crusade, marching from Newcastle through Nottingham and the Midlands all the way to London, delivering a petition which aimed to end unemployment and poverty. She serves as a vital member of Churchill’s cabinet, and has affairs with communist spies and government ministers. But, despite all of this, she still finds herself – somehow – on the outside looking in.

Red Ellen will be directed by Wils Wilson (Life is a Stream and The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart – National Theatre of Scotland, I Want My Hat Back – National Theatre, Twelfth Night – Bristol Old Vic).

Nottingham Playhouse Chief Executive Stephanie Sirr says –

Ellen was such an extraordinary champion of workers’ rights that it made perfect sense to work in partnership with UNISON on our world premiere of Red Ellen.  We are delighted to welcome them.”

UNISON East Midlands regional secretary Chris Jenkinson says –

This partnership with Nottingham Playhouse not only helps support a world-class, award winning regional theatre and registered charity, but it gives us the chance to give something back to our members who have kept this region going throughout the pandemic. We’re planning a special performance of Red Ellen to say thank you to a number of key workers as well as ensuring all members get discounted tickets and other benefits.

The production, premieres at Northern Stage on 30 March and following its run at Nottingham Playhouse, it will be staged at The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh from 4 to 21 May.

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