Rachel Shenton’s Stoke-on-Trent pottery drama to feature at New York’s Tribeca Festival

Gladstone Girls Gladstone Girls

Last year, Stoke-on-Trent actress Rachel Shenton wrote, directed, and starred in a podcast series titled Gladstone Girls, which depicts the lives of pottery workers in north Staffordshire in the 1970s. 

Now, this six-part series has been selected to debut at the 2024 Tribeca Festival in New York this June. 

Shenton, whose “nan, grandad, aunts, and uncles all worked on the pots”, took inspiration for the story from a real protest that occurred at the Gladstone pottery factory – which is now the Gladstone Pottery Museum – in Stoke-on-Trent. 

The story follows strike action taken by several female workers who are denied ‘Curl Friday’ by their new floor manager. ‘Curl Friday’ was a tradition held in factories which involved female staff members preparing for their Friday nights out while still at work. 

In the podcast, the new floor manager threatens to reduce wages should anyone show up to work in hair curlers, which inspires the characters to stage a peaceful protest in response.  

Ms Shenton said of her podcast: “It sort of perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Stoke and the people of Stoke, stand up for what you believe in”. 

She also described the podcast being picked up by the New York festival as being “a bit of a dream”. 

Shenton, who is currently filming the next series of All Creatures Great and Small, is trying to secure time off from filming commitments so that she can appear in person at the festival. 

Shenton rose to fame through her role as Mitzeee Minniver on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, which she starred in between 2010 and 2013. 

In 2018, she wrote, produced, and starred in her silent film titled The Silent Child, which she won an Acadamy award for. She also received an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University in November 2023. 

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