Bold Girls Through the Years

Ever since its debut performance in Cumbernauld in 1991, the popularity of Bold Girls has snowballed, becoming a central piece of Scottish theatre. With just over a week until we open our reimagined production, join us in looking through snapshots of the play’s history in Cumbernauld and further afield.

In 1991 Cumbernauld Theatre Trust was reaching its third decade living in a row of eighteenth-century cottages. The venue had become the regular home for the works of well-known figures from the world of theatre and music who were renowned for developing distinctly political works. These artists included the legendary 7:84 company who, under the direction of Lynne Parker, first staged Rona Munro’s Bold Girls at the Cottage Theatre. It starred Andrea Irvine, Paula Hamilton, Joyce McBrinn and Julia Dearden.

Rona Munro’s ear for the authentic cut and thrust of Belfast’s unsung heroines is sharp, abrasive and at times downright painful … it is also celebratory and funny.

Daily Mail, 1991

Touring Scotland that same year, it also appeared at London’s Hampstead Theatre with a cast including Imelda Staunton and Catherine Cusack. Rona Munro won the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award in 1991, and the play eventually became part of the Scottish school curriculum. In later years Bold Girls was staged throughout Scotland, London, Melbourne and USA (Sacramento and Los Angeles). It returned to its original home in Cumbernauld in a 1999 production at Cumbernauld Theatre directed by then-Artistic Director Simon Sharkey. The play was more recently performed in 2018 at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, led by Richard Baron.

Set in West Belfast during the Troubles in 1991. Marie, Cassie, and Nora are determined to get on with their lives despite the bombs, the soldiers, and their husbands being either locked away or killed. That is, until a mysterious young woman turns up on Marie’s doorstep, disrupting their girls’ night out and bringing devastating revelations that threaten to leave their friendships changed forever. Sharply funny, moving, yet never shying from the harsh realities of life during the Troubles, Bold Girls is a celebration of women’s strength under siege.

It was the product of a lot of whiskey, a lot of laughs and a score of stories … I don’t think the battles women fight, or the daily struggles they have in much of Belfast, are particularly different from those in any other area with bad housing or high unemployment – except that guns make a difference to everything. But this isn’t a story about guns. It’s the story of four bold women.

Rona Munro

Photographs (in order):

  • 1991: Paula Hamilton (left) and Julia Dearden in the original ‘Bold girls’ production, photo from National Library of Scotland Archives.
  • 1999: Cumbernauld Cottage Theatre – Katherine Igoe as Cassie, Eliza Langland as Marie.
  • 1999: Cumbernauld Cottage Theatre – Eliza Langland as Marie.
  • 1999: Cumbernauld Cottage Theatre – Eliza Langland as Marie, Gillian Mollison as Deirdre.
  • 1999: Bold Girls poster
  • 2004: Matrix Theatre Company, Los Angeles, Directed by Lisa James.
  • 2018: Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. Deirdre Davis & Sinéad Sharkey (photo credit: Tim Morozzo).


Rachel Murphy

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