This time last year, on the 2nd of November I had taken the day off work because it’s the anniversary of my mum’s death. Our Operations Manager, Roma Yagnik had also taken the day off work because it was her 39th birthday. I checked my emails, ‘Some bad news….. ’ New York had stumbled, a slot had been missed – Key Change was now up against a major festival, the accommodation had fell through and accountants couldn’t make the maths work. I went to the office. All of us shaken and very stirred.
One month prior to this day Roma had given in her notice to leave Open Clasp, this due to the many demands for her skills as a composer (and after 10 years with the company). I hadn’t told the staff team, and didn’t want them to have to deal with another blow on another day, so I thought lets get all the bad news out now and see how we bounce. Mary started to cry and said ‘my cats died last night’ and then I said ‘its mum’s anniversary’.
We turned our eyes back to the email from New York
Courage was needed in high volumes and we had it in abundance. We changed the subject line to our reply saying ‘Key Change still coming to New York’. We had a conference call (AND ALL) held our breaths and the rest is history. Many lessons learnt, ours was our ability to respond, our determination and our ability to make it happen. New York was no Cinderella moment, we worked hard and overcome many hurdles to ensure the voices of the women who had won Edinburgh sang in New York. We promised the women in Stirling Prison and Low Newton if we were to win we would go into a women’s prison over there and that was what we were going to do. We were strong and resilient.
24 years ago, on the 2nd of November, I was 29 years old, my baby son had just turned one, and I was sat watching my mum die. She was my rock, my strength and my best friend.
Edna’s voice is in many of the plays I have written for Open Clasp; with Key Change she tells the story of the Magpie snatching the babies from a nest. Upstairs this week we’re rehearsing Rattle Snake, and I see her there too, standing with her daughter fighting to right a wrong. Both plays reaching out and making change happen.
At our Civil Partnership in 2014 Edna May McHugh was celebrated by our big queer family as the mother who marched with us against Clause 28, she was the mother that others didn’t have, one that stood in solidarity with her lesbian daughter.
Today is Roma Yagnik 40th birthday, Mary’s getting a new cat, we smashed New York, and I’m remembering my mum Edna May McHugh.