Jefny Ashcroft: Drama Specialist

Nurse Brown From Jamaica

As part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival, there was interactive talk about the portrait Nurse Brown From Jamaica.

I was joined by Joy Baines, an artist inspired by afro-centric beauty.

Nurse Brown

We had Nurse Brown’s portrait on display at each session for people to look at before and after the short talk. Our aim is to give, and more importantly to listen to, information and ideas about the young Black woman in the painting.

Painted in 1956 by a white, Birmingham-based artist, Irene Welburn a member of the Royal Birmingham School of Art, she is depicted as attractive, self-possessed and wearing her uniform with pride. And she is making an intriguing gesture. Is the striking way she is holding her hands important to her? Could she be making a sign that she is a Rastafarian?

As we hoped, by the end of the Literature Festival we may be nearer knowing the answer to that and other questions about this mysterious portrait.

Latest production news

My most recent production Himmat (Courage) had a great reception. At least 345 people attended over five performances. The overwhelming verdict (gleaned from Evaluation sheets, post-its and verbal comments) was positive. Eshmit Kaur, my collaborator, and I were delighted both that a substantial portion of our audiences identified themselves as Sikh (68% overall) and that many people had not visited the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, where we staged the play, before.

Himmat - final performance

Making history

I write and produce professionally-acted and directed plays. These are frequently based on actual historical events researched by myself.

My approach is three-pronged: adult drama involving communities in various venues including open-air ones; plays for children both in schools and historic and characterful buildings; and informal, sometimes promenade, site-specific pieces for adults in archives, museums and art galleries.

People’s memories of their area’s past and their own experiences are also important in my script-writing. I aim to create a rapport with audiences who may not see theatre as something they normally do.

How d'you know that?

Would you like me to work with you?

I can write comedy or more serious drama. I have good working relations with a number of Archives and particularly welcome writing site-specific pieces for such institutions.

Plays start at 15 minutes but can be considerably longer depending on your anticipated audience. See here for a complete listing of my previous plays which have been performed.

Please feel free to contact me to arrange an informal discussion.