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Ada Salter play will now run

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Ada Salter, Alison Mead, play, Politic Man, Bermondsey‘The Salters proved that moral values and integrity could walk hand in hand with leadership.’

A new play about pioneers Ada and Alfred Salter is heading to south-east London after a long battle for funding by its writer and director, Alison Mead.

Politic Man tells the true story of Ada and Alf Salter, the couple who transformed an impoverished area of south-east London in the first half of the last century with their ‘Bermondsey Revolution’ of local health care, housing regeneration and environmental change.

The unveiling of ‘Dr Salter’s Daydream’ by Diane Gorvin on 30 November 2014 brought the contribution of Ada Salter to the attention of many who had previously only heard her name.

Ada Salter née Brown moved to the Bermondsey Settlement in 1897 from a prosperous background, and married in 1900.

When women were given the right to stand in 1907, Ada became the first woman Councillor in Bermondsey and later the first Labour woman Councillor in London. In 1922, Ada was the first female mayor in London of any party.

As part of Kier Hardie‘s Independent Labour Party, (ILP) Ada brought together the women’s movement and labour. She spread ground-breaking ideas of urban development through her place on the London County Council (LCC) from 1925 and took planting to all corners of Britain byh chairing the National Gardens Guild.

In Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, Ada headed up the Beautification Committee which was responsible for covering the borough with trees, plants and playgrounds.

The replacement of old tenements with model housing that is both healthier and minimised housework proved a lasting legacy of the Salters’ work.

Ada brought together her commitment to international peace with her passion for justice and the rights of women when she was elected President of the Women’s International League  and worked closely with the Nobel peace laureate Jane Addams to further the cause of global peace between the wars.

She died in 1942.

The play was due to tour venues across London earlier this year, but funding fell through at the last minute.

It will now be performed at The Loft space at The Ugly Duck venue in Bermondsey on 17 and 18 December thanks to backing from the ILP, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Unity Theatre Trust.

The Salters’ story is one of a brilliant doctor, Alf Salter, and his campaigning wife, Ada, who dedicated their lives to the people of Bermondsey, a slum area overrun by squalor and disease.

Alf introduced a free local health service for the poor long before there was a national health service, while Ada campaigned to improve housing and the environment, building gardens as part of a local ‘beautifcation’ programme.

The play, to be staged by Mead’s Three4All Theatre Company, “explores the antithesis between the public and the private face of politicians and asks if it is ever possible to stick to your principles at all times.

“It is the true story of Alfred Salter and his wife Ada, who between them, stood for local, mayoral and parliamentary elections throughout their lives.

“Salter and his wife proved that moral values and integrity could walk hand in hand with leadership. Through their eyes, we are asking what leadership really is.”

As a director, Alison Mead has been responsible for a wide variety of productions from Shakespeare at the South Bank to Checkhov at the Churchill Theatre Bromley.

Finding that roles for older women were drying up so Mead turned her hand to writing for the stage and produced her own work with a newly formed company three4all theatre

She is also Artistic Director of the newly formed Kent Coast Theatre which opened in September 2015 and will be focussed on the community in Kent where she lives. Kent Coast Theatre produced its inaugural production “Animal Farm” at the Horsebridge Arts Centre.

There will be three performances of Politic Man on its opening weekend, followed by a London tour in January 2017.

To book tickets, click here.

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