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NEWS > Emerging Talent Award recipient > Stephanie Martin (LEH 1997-2004)

Stephanie Martin (LEH 1997-2004)

 Female friendships, women of great ambition, individuality and independence are central to my work as a writer and these themes and characters are truly a product of my formative years at LEH. Similarly, my passion for writing drama for stage and screen was instilled and fostered during my studies at LEH.
My first play “Joy” is the story of a young woman with Down’s Syndrome who is determined to live life to the full despite her over-protective family and the discrimination of the world around her. The character of Joy, with the support of her sister Mary and a community drama teacher, Sue, takes on the world with a quiet determination, an open heart and bags of ambition. Joy, supported by Mary and Sue, joins a drama club, works a part-time job in partnership with her college studies and falls in love. The play’s closing moments see her marry her boyfriend, Paul. The play premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East, October 2017, was the most wonderful experience in celebrating bravery, difference and possibility. Central to the play was female friendship and the determination of a women to overcome obstacles or the expectation of society. “Joy” is currently in development to become a feature film.
July 2018 saw the premiere of my play “Alkaline”, with a month long run at Park Theatre, a venue that has a great tradition of staging works by emerging writers.  “Alkaline” explores the relationship between two friends, joined at the hip since their first week at secondary school. Their twenty-year friendship is put to the test as their individual lives take very different routes. The title refers to Sarah’s quest for more balance in her life as she embraces the faith of her partner, Ali. Sophie and Nick seem a more conventionally couple, whose ignorant assumptions and prejudices make for an awkward evening together. As The Guardian reviewer put it, “Alkaline” is a “contemporary comedy of manners and a state-of-the-nation play about Brexit, liberalism, austerity, and most of all, the threat that modern Islam is perceived to pose to the conservative heartlands of middle England.” The closing moments of “Alkaline” see Sophie and Sarah beginning the next steps of their friendship, continuing to support and grow together, despite the challenges posed by a woman breaking the expected “mould” she’s been placed within.
Meanwhile, my focus is now on a musical about a group of young women involved in the women’s liberation movement in the early 1970s. The play centres on the Ruskin Conference in 1970, a pivotal moment in the campaign for women’s rights: the anti-discrimination and equal pay legislation followed a few years later. The story will focus on a diverse group of (fictional) women supporting each other as they break new ground both politically and personally. I can’t wait to share the story of the women’s movement of the early 1970’s it seems to have been left out of the history books thus far!
The play’s working title is “Mary Quake”: “Mary” to signify an ordinary girl; “Quake” to symbolise the seismic political movement that feminism represents. Mrs Hanbury describes Holles girls as “unafraid to tackle new and challenging ideas” and “prepared to take risks”. The women of “Mary Quake”, “Joy” and “Alkaline” are just like that.

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