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Sweetly Sings The Donkey
‘… I am here and I am safe and I am sick of it’
Sweetly Sings the Donkey, is a radio trilogy by Shelagh Delaney, adapted for the stage by Charlotte Delaney. It was originally developed from a semi-autobiographical short story written by Shelagh Delaney in 1963, and is included in her collection of short stories in the book of the same name.
We first meet the young girls Lillian, Nina, Vivian and Barbara in the austere post- war Blackpool convalescent home they have been sent to recover from their various ailments. Under the watchful and unforgiving eye of the resident nuns, the girls form a friendship that will last a lifetime and their world is brought to life through merciless humour and honesty.
Decades later we catch up with them and learn of the adventures and adversities they have faced both together and apart, including a prison, a convent and a stint as a serial killer. In the end, their irritations and frustrations with each other, surrender to the loyalty and furious love that only friendship can provide.
Along with Charlotte Delaney, this play is being staged in collaboration with MaD Theatre Company, the Guinness Partnership (registered provider), the Working Class Movement Library and the University of Oxford.
This production is part of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project at the University of Oxford, Feminism, Culture and Women’s Lives in Britain, c.1945-c.2015, which is led by Professor Selina Todd, who is writing the authorised biography of Shelagh Delaney.