Medhavi Patel is taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, which is currently touring the UK.
Patel’s previous stage work has seen her star in Tales of Birbal, Trident Moon and Fragile Land, and she has starred in TV shows including Doctors and Holby City. The role of Jayaben Desai holds particular significance to Patel after she learned she is a distant relative of the iconic leader.
The play will be at Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October 2017.
Tell us a little bit about the play.
We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! is a beautifully written play by Neil Gore about the Grunwick strikers back in 1976. The play is based on the strong and courageous journey of Jayaben Desai, a South Asian women of Gujarati descent. Jayaben fought along with the many that supported her for the right to have a union represent them in the factory they worked for – this was due to the mistreatment of immigrant workers at the factory.
And your role…
I will be playing Jayaben Desai. She was a woman of incredible strength, courage and determination. She fought a battle at a time where the odds were against her, simply because she was a woman and an immigrant. Many say she was ahead of her time and strived to show that Asian woman can be strong and outspoken too.
How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations?
Many are excited at the prospects of such a strong play based on real-life experiences which are still a struggle for many in today’s society. I believe it will be received strongly everywhere we go, as we have kept the energy levels high and used elements of humour and emotion at the right balance.
What is life like backstage on tour?
Rehearsals are fun but gruelling and trying to get the right tone of the play and characters is important. Louise Townsend (Director) and Neil Gore (Playwright and Actor) have gone to great lengths to ensure the production is as close to real life events as possible. There have been many moments of laughter but equally many moments of discussion and thought about why the play is so important right now. Life backstage can be tiring but when you love what you do, that feeling takes second place.
Touring can be demanding: how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?
I try to be as active as possible on a regular basis, whether this means walking, going to gym, for a gentle run, dancing in my room, practicing yoga and even getting enough shut eye. I also make sure I drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks to hand. I warm up before performances and ensure I have time to silence the world from my thoughts before the show in order to go on sharp, focused and energised. Rest and play should be in the right balance and looking after oneself is essential to any performer as we are our tools.
Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?
I chose this path as I always loved performing from a young age. I didn’t see it as something particularly unique or special, as it feels like home when I’m performing – it really feels like I’m doing what makes me happy and that is my life’s mantra.
People spend so much time working and worrying that they forget about feeling, whether it’s happy or sad. When you incite feelings in your audience and bring them into your world it is the most amazing feeling. When you are able to touch people and make them aware of these feelings, it’s a job well done. I love the physical, mental and emotional challenges, the creativity, the people and the experiences that being a performer brings.
Any advice for aspiring performers?
Keep learning and be open to new challenges, don’t let yourself fit in just one category as you’ll never know your true potential.
Know your value and never be scared to question if you don’t understand or you don’t agree with something. An actor never stops learning and developing as their environment and life is their inspiration. Keep your craft alive through moments of quiet through attending workshops, shows or even trying to learn a new skill. You’ll never regret it.
Finally, why should people come along to see the play? And where else can we see it?
I think it will touch anyone who has ever had to fight for something important. It shows that together any difficulty can be faced and overcome. To see and know the story of a strong South Asian woman who has fought so valiantly for the rights we have today, to understand that we can question the systems in place and strive to make changes not just for ourselves but also for the people around us.
The play will also be on tour UK-wide and comes to Glasgow’s Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October. Tickets are on sale now, priced £15 standard and concession £12 from: http://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice .
Further dates and show locations on can be found: www.townsendproductions.org.uk