Michelle, who is completing her two-year, part-time Master’s degree in Creative Writing the Novel at Brunel, has secured funding from Black Theatre Live for a UK tour of her play ‘She Called Me Mother’, about an elderly homeless Trinidadian woman who sells the Big Issue.
Cathy, who is well-known for her starring roles in the film Mona Lisa (1986) with Bob Hoskins, for which she won two US film critics’ awards and was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe, and the ITV series Band of Gold (1995-1997), graduated from Brunel in 2013 with a degree in English and Drama.
Cathy and Michelle’s friendship dates back to the 1970s when they were both school students at the Catholic girls’ school, St Winifred’s, in Dingle, Liverpool, where they both grew up.
“We’d kept in touch for over 20 years,” explained Michelle. “So I sent Cathy my play and she read it and liked it.” The drama was originally written as a poetic monologue in vernacular Trinidadian, highly challenging for a performer but a voice familiar to Michelle, whose parents are from Trinidad.
“I have that voice situated very well within. I’ve lived in Liverpool, and then London. I’ve been exposed to so many different cultures,” she added.
When Michelle used to see the homeless woman —in the play she is called Evangeline Josephina Gardner — “she was always talking”.