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Made in Dagenham: Sydney Russell pupils bringing Ford strike story to school stage

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 November 2019

The cast of Sydney Russell School's performance of Made in Dagenham. Picture: Sydney Russell School

The cast of Sydney Russell School's performance of Made in Dagenham. Picture: Sydney Russell School

Sydney Russell School

The story of how a group of Dagenham women fought for equal pay is being told by Sydney Russell pupils half a century on.

The cast of Made in Dagenham in rehearsal. Picture: Sydney Russell SchoolThe cast of Made in Dagenham in rehearsal. Picture: Sydney Russell School

Youngsters from the school are taking to the stage to perform Made in Dagenham - a musical inspired by the true story of the 1968 Ford strike which saw sewing machinists walk out in protest.

The young cast are pleased to be taking part in a play that shows Dagenham in a positive light.

"People that live out of Dagenham think bad of it because of stuff that happens here, like crime," Annis Maynard, who plays Cass, said. "This show really shows what Dagenham's about."

Tahlia Omotayo, who plays Connie, added: "It makes us proud there's been some inspirational people from our home town."

The pupils are also aware of how the actions of their predecessors helped to shape what they - and others from Dagenham - could go on to do.

Zaaria Mohirara, who plays Beryl, said: "We're six females who are aspiring to greater things than what we would have had 50 years ago. We have more opportunities to succeed."

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Libby Raybould, who plays ringleader Rita O'Grady, added: "If they could do it 50 years ago then we can have much more of an involvement in the future."

The 28-strong cast have been involved in weeks of rehearsals, including a performance in the Parsloes Avenue school's atrium - something Nina Matouk, who plays Clare, described as "difficult".

But spending time together has also helped strengthen the bonds between the cast - including the six Year 10 pupils playing the lead roles.

Anna March, who plays Sandra, said: "It's brought people together. It's opened my eyes to new experiences.

Libby added: "It builds up your confidence."

The musical has provided a political education, as well, according to Annis, who said: "Before the show I didn't really care about politics and that sort of stuff. It wasn't really my thing.

"Now I'm grateful for what they did, and I'll vote when I'm old enough."

Made in Dagenham is on at Sydney Russell School on Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5 at 7pm. Tickets, available on the door, cost £3 for adults and £2 for children.

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