Citadel Arts Group Presents New Audio Play Newhaven Fishwives

Leith based Citadel Arts Group (CAG), that develops new plays by older writers, presents a new audio play from writer Lizzie McLean that will be broadcast via citadelgoesviral.com from 13th June as part of Leithers One Family series of audio plays.

Starring in the play as Lizzie, one of the fishwives, is Nicola Roy who is a familiar face to regular Edinburgh theatre audiences at the Lyceum and the Traverse, and indeed beyond. Nicola is currently the host and creator of The Cultural Coven podcast and says of the play “The Fishwives is a beautiful, lively little piece about the resilience, humour and rather modern Newhaven Fishwives. As an Edinburgh girl and actress it was great to work in east coast dialect which the writer, Lizzie, captured so well and to learn of the important history and contribution of these ‘on the surface’ ordinary women.”

The play is set in the early 19th century but as Director, Mark Kydd explains “What really struck me about the play was the degree of autonomy and financial independence enjoyed by Newhaven Fishwives in the early nineteenth century, not a period renowned for women’s emancipation. I think Lizzie’s writing beautifully captures the strength, humour and camaraderie of these women.”

There is a strong connection with Newhaven beyond the play’s title with writer Lizzie McLean and is musician Sophia Abrahamsen, whose expertise helped bring the vibrant history of the Newhaven Fishwives to life, both being based there.

Producer and founder of Citadel Arts Group Liz Hare says “We wanted to make sure the play was as accurate as possible, so had asked Sophia – who’s in the Newhaven Choir – to help us find some traditional songs to feature in the piece. Not only did she find us three wonderful songs, which she also performs in the play, but she was also able to share her historical expertise on the fishwives, helping us with details such as authentic names and language. As the last known Newhaven fishwife is believed to have retired as recently as 1976, there are still many people who will remember these remarkable women, so it was particularly important to us to honour their history and traditions”.

The Leithers One Family series was launched in March 2021 and is based on the novel Leithers One Family by William Haddow (2020, Camus Stone Press). Eleven local playwrights have adapted selected chapters from the book to create the Leithers One Family audio series, that follows the fortunes of the fictional Preston family at various points in Leith’s history from the fourteenth century to the present day. All of the plays in the series have been recorded virtually to allow actors and creators to continue working during the pandemic. The plays are posted online at every two weeks and are free to access at citadelgoesviral.com.

Irene Brown

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