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Part of Manchester Jewish Museum’s ‘Synagogue Scratch’ season.
Julia Pascal grew up in the north of England. She trained as an actor and was also a journalist before starting her career as a playwright and theatre director. She was the first woman director at the National Theatre on the South Bank with her stage adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s prose and poetry. She is the granddaughter of Manchester Jews and a playwright who has focused her work on exploring untold Jewish stories, particularly those of women. She’s interested in sharing neglected Jewish histories which counter stereotypes and add complexity to the Jewish experience.
‘A Manchester Girlhood’ is a play rooted in Julia’s family’s history. It is based on the lives of three Manchester Jewish women and their Romanian immigrant mother.
In Bucharest 1910, Esther Goldenberg has been forced to marry Emanuel Jacobs. He is her parents’ choice. The two young Romanian Jews go to Manchester and have three daughters, Isabel, Edith and Pearl. Isabel’s only ambition is to be a doctor’s wife. Edith becomes a soldier. Pearl marries a GI.
Sourced by interviews with the three sisters, who grew up as the Jewish Mancunian daughters of those who fled Romanian antisemitism, the play gives a moving vision of what it was like to struggle for a good education, love and identity as Jews who wanted free lives as women.
Writer-director: Julia Pascal.