Food for thought
T en years ago, the theatre company, The Lions Part, discovered an obscure collection of poems written by women during the Second World War.
It turned out that they had stumbled across a treasure trove of stories and experiences from the 'Forgotten Army' – the scores of dedicated, brave and hardworking Land Girls who supported the war effort.
The company decided to write to surviving Land Girls and ask for their memories, anecdotes, photos and poems and received an overwhelming response. Out of this collection of voices, the play Lilies of the Land was created. It has since toured all over the country and was a West End success two years ago.
At the beginning of this year, Kate Copeland, 39, was selected to play a Geordie called Margie, a Land Girl who was badly treated at the farm she worked for. She said: "I've wanted to be in this play for years and applied last year too. When I got it this time I was utterly thrilled.
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"It's a truly unique play. It starts the day Churchill dies in 1965 when our characters are middle aged and the rest of the performance is about teenage memories of what it was like to work in the war. My character Margie is barely paid or fed on the farm she works but is rescued by the other Land Girls who then blacklist the farm."
Kate who lived in Oxted when attending Croydon High School, graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1998. She remembers acting at the Ashcroft, and is very excited to be bringing Lilies on the Land back to her childhood haunts.
She said: "This will be my favourite play to date; it's a real privilege to perform. It's a very emotional piece and still has a lot of relevance for women's roles in society over the years. What is so extraordinary is that these women spent four or five years living in a completely different world and then returned to being housewives at the end."
As well as playing their own characters, the four actors also play the supporting roles of farmers, labourers and American GIs.
Sarah Finch plays Poppy, Catriona Finch plays Vera and Kali Peacock plays Peggy. The play is directed by Sonia Ritter and designed by Jane Linz Roberts.