Militant Medhavi Patel gets Best Theatre Actress nod at Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards

Madhavi Patel in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! Images Paul Sandy.

Medhavi Patel, the star of the acclaimed strike drama, We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, has been nominated for Best Theatre Actress at this year’s Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards.

Medhavi has been selected as a finalist after her stand-out performance as Grunwick Strike leader Jayaben Desai in Townsend Theatre Productions’ tour of Neil Gore’s provocative play.

We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, which also stars Gore, relives the true story of the Grunwick dispute, a movement which challenged the way unions thought about new immigrant communities coming to the UK in the 1970s.

Since the play made its debut in October 2017 Medhavi has won critical and public acclaim in the two-hander all over the country.

We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! finishes its seven-month UK tour at the Brighton Fringe Festival this weekend, playing at The Old Court Room, tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 9pm.

Medhavi said: “I am delighted and proud to have been nominated.

“Playing the role of Jayaben Desai has been tremendous, and I am so pleased the play has received such recognition on its tour across the UK.

“As an actress from a BAME background, traditionally the roles that are available to us can be limiting.

“Too often Indian women can be typecast as the subservient housewives, mothers and suppressed daughters, so to play an iconic and strong leader from a Gujarati background has been a true blessing.

“It is hard not to be touched by Jayaben’s story.

“Like her, my mother worked in factories when my parents first arrived in the UK in the 1970s, so this story and the many of the other stories of the time about the struggles faced by South Asian women in the workplace resonates with me, my family as well as my community on a many levels.

“It has been an honour to relive the story of the Grunwick Strike on stage.

“Jayaben’s story will continue to inspire me long after the play has stopped touring and I hope this play along with the many other lost stories about strong women leaders can be relived, enjoyed and portrayed to inspire.”

Director Louise Townsend said: “We are delighted Medhavi has been recognised for her exceptional performance as Jayaben Desai in our play We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!

“The role of Jayaben Desai is no mean feat, but Medhavi has delighted audiences across the country with her phenomenal talent, and she has done Neil Gore’s fantastic script justice.

“The pair have worked tremendously together to bring the story of the Grunwick Strike to life, and Medhavi has truly captured the spirit of Jayaben.

“We wish Medhavi and the rest of the nominees the best of luck at the ceremony.”

Amit Roy, chairman of the ACTAs judging panel and Eastern Eye editor-at-large said: “This is our third year and the wealth of nominees for the ACTAs indicate more and more young British Asians are going into the arts.

“We began the ACTAs because we felt British Asian artists, try as they might, were not getting the recognition they deserved. Art, which enhances life, is for all.”

The ACTAs is the leading event recognising the major contribution artists of South Asian heritage make to the British arts scene.

The awards will be announced in a ceremony in London on June 22. 

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