Playwright in research appeal

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A PLAYWRIGHT is appealing for information about a woman who helped to save a historic town centre building from closure 60 years ago.

Danusia Iwaszko, who runs The Hal Theatre Company, wants to find out more about the life of Margaret Kemp in order to stage a new production this year focusing on her period of activism.

In the 1950s, Ms Kemp staged a virtual sit-in at the Quaker Meeting House, in St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds, after it was threatened with closure.

Convinced the building would be needed for the future, she fought off councillors, developers and other senior Quakers.

Ms Iwaszko was told the story in 2008 and immediately became captivated.

She said: “I thought ‘this is a fantastic play’. I know she was a nurse who eventually ended up living in Bury, a Quaker and local character.”

The professional playwright, who has penned work for the Theatre Royal in Bury and is an attached writer at the National Theatre, in London, is now researching Ms Kemp’s life.

She wants to discover more about her friendship with Joan Kilner, who sought guidance from Ms Kemp about the Quaker way of life.

Ms Iwaszko also needs to research St John’s Street in the 1950s and the Quakers at the time.

The play will be staged in the Quaker Meeting House from June 7-9 with an accompanying exhibition.

Volunteers are needed to help with the exhibition, research, publicity and staging of the play.

The play and exhibition is funded by The Heritage Lottery, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and The Quakers.

Those interested in getting involved can attend the Quaker House for the launch of the project on Friday, February 3, at 7pm.

Anyone with information about Ms Kemp and Ms Kilner should email