Inside the Greenroom: A closer look at the women of Wanted!

Wanted! is a powerful new play that explores the lives and deeds of five extraordinary women who risked everything they had to stand up for what they believed was right. Find out more about these incredible women below…

Dr James Barry

Born Margaret Ann Bukley, Dr James Barry was a military surgeon in the British Army, born in Cork, Ireland. Barry obtained a medical degree whilst disguised as a male, then served first in Cape Town, South Africa, and subsequently in many parts of the British Empire. Before retirement, Barry had risen to the rank of Inspector General, the second highest medical office in the British Army. Barry not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants, and performed one of the first recorded caesarean sections in which both the mother and child survived the operation. Barry lived as a man in both public and private life, at least in part to be accepted as a university student and pursue a career as a surgeon, with Barry’s birth sex only becoming known to the public and to military colleagues after her death.

Irena Sendler

Irena Stanisława Sendler was a Polish social worker and humanitarian who served in the Polish Underground movement during World War II in German-occupied Warsaw. Sendler smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them with false identity documents and shelter with willing Polish families, and working alongside Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews.

The German occupiers suspected Sendler’s involvement in the Polish Underground and she was arrested, but she managed to hide the list of the names and locations of the rescued Jewish children, preventing this information from falling into the hands of the Gestapo. Withstanding torture and imprisonment, Sendler never revealed anything about her work. She was sentenced to death but narrowly escaped on the day of her scheduled execution.

Absolutely brilliant. Powerful, emotional, amazing acting. I’ve gone back home feeling empowered, stronger…

Audience Member on Wanted!

Olive Morris

Olive Elaine Morris was a British community leader and activist in the feminist, black nationalist, and squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s in the United Kingdom. Olive Morris was born in 1952 in Harewood, Jamaica, to Doris and Vincent Morris, and moved to London, England, with her family at the age of nine. She left school without qualifications, but later went on to study at the London College of Communication.

On 15 November 1969, Nigerian diplomat Clement Gomwalk was confronted by police. They dragged him out of his car to interrogate him and then continued to beat him. Local journalist Aymo Martin Tajo stated that Morris “broke through the crowd to the scuffle” and “tried to physically stop the police from beating the Nigerian”, the police then beat her also. In the early 1970s Morris became a member of the youth section of the British Black Panther Movement. She was a founding member of the Brixton Black Women’s Group.

An absolute must-watch for all women, their daughters, their husbands, their brothers and any woman that’s feeling lost or low.

Audience Member on Wanted!

Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi was an Indian bandit and later a Member of Parliament. Born into a poor family, Phoolan endured poverty, child marriage and abuse. Phoolan was kidnapped by dacoits (bandits) as a teenager, and later, following a change of leadership, became a member herself, participating in raids on villages, targeting wealthy landowners particularly those who exploited lower cast women. Phoolan was the only woman in the gang, and her relationship with one gang member, coupled with caste difference and power struggles, led to a gunfight between members, and the death of her lover. The rival faction subjected Phoolan to repeated humiliation and rape. After escaping, Phoolan rejoined the remnants of her previous gang. A few months later, her new gang descended upon the village of Behmai, where they believed the gang leaders were hiding, to exact revenge for what she had suffered and the death of her lover. As many as twenty-two men of Behmai were shot dead.

Phoolan evaded capture for two years after the massacre before she surrendered to the police in 1983. She was charged with 48 crimes, including multiple murders, plunder, and kidnapping for ransom. Phoolan spent the next eleven years in jail awaiting trial. In 1994, the state government withdrew all charges against her, and Phoolan was released. She then stood for election to parliament as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party and was twice elected. In 2001, she was assassinated.

Leoni Lawrence

Leoni is a young carer and student living in the UK. Struggling with anxiety, poor mental health and a desire to make change, Leoni expresses herself anonymously through spoken word as Poetic Justice.

She is the only fictional character in the play.

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