North Derbyshire WASPI women's riveting drama Stung highlights hardship in ongoing fight for pension compensation
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The cast of Stung are not professional actors but members of WASPI, the national campaign group comprising Fifties born women who lost out after their State Pension age was moved back at short notice by the Department of Work and Pensions, giving them little time to save for their retirement.
WASPI’s historic injustice is the largest case of maladministration ever brought to the Ombudsman, affecting 3.8million women, some of whom will lose up to £52,000. More than 220,000 have died while waiting for compensation.
These are the harsh realities thrust into the spotlight in Lynn Ludditt’s script, brought to life by director Carole Copeland and nine WASPI members who embrace the new challenge of performing on stage.
Bravo to performers Angela Madden, Tricia Clough, Denise Baker, Joan Lye Green, Karen Unwin, Carol Mullins, Lesley Hardy and Janet Goodrich for highlighting the hardship that the campaigners are continuing to face on their journey to seeking justice.
Their ensemble piece is based on true experiences of women having to resort to food banks, of caring for dependent relatives out of love rather than claiming state support, of lying awake at nights worrying about making ends meet.
A strong message about sisterhood across the social classes rings out; how membership of WASPI can unite strangers in an unbreakable bond and create lasting friendships. Born out of an initial meeting of just five women, social media has swelled the campaign group to 130,000 followers.
From writing letters to the Department of Work and Pensions, WASPI has evolved into a well organised group that has marched on London to demonstrate their cause and enlisted support from politicians. Tea on the terrace at the House of Commons with the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner and a secret meeting with Jeremy Corbyn at a miners welfare club are among the examples given in Stung.
Addressing the House of Commons in 2017, MP Andrew Gwynne said: "Wasps can be pests, they can be nuisances and they can't easily be bashed away. And when they do, they get angry and they come back and if you really annoy them they can sting you and unlike bees they can sting you more than once so let's have some justice for these ladies because it's long overdue."
The MP's impassioned speech was shown at the beginning of Stung and prompted a loud cheer from the audience at Chesterfield’s West Studios on Saturday afternoon. A vociferous chorus of “We’re WASPI women and we’ve been stung” at the end of the play rallied the audience who joined in whole-heartedly with the song composed by Rob Laughlin.
A standing ovation demonstrated he strength of public support for these super troupers and their ongoing campaign.