Theatre Bournemouth Gardens


One sister stayed at home to care for Dad. The other set out to ‘make a difference’.

Reunited under their childhood roof, Pauline and Rachel unearth more than the 10 years between them.

A huge gap. Almost insurmountable. And each is determined to let the other know exactly who has done things right.

Daughterhood is a beautiful, ferocious play about the bonds that tie us, and how we sometimes need to break them.

Written by Charley Miles, whose ‘heartbreakingly tender’ debut BLACKTHORN explored ‘lost love and the fragility and power of nature in fifty minutes that passed like a dream.”

Charley Miles Q&A


Charley Miles saw her first play, Blackthorn, premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in September 2016 and go on to become a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn award in New York in 2017. She was the Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2017 and has recently written plays for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Royal Court, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Her original television drama, In Memorium, is in development with Buccaneer Media.

Can you tell us about your journey with Paines Plough?

I started as a Paines Plough playwriting fellow in 2018 and finished in March 2019. I was then commissioned to write a Roundabout play in December. It was really nice because I got to start my journey with them quite a few months before Roundabout and I got to do loads of amazing things like go to Barcelona to do a writing residency and they sent me to Berlin purely to watch theatre, which was amazing.

When I got the commission in December it was quite a short space of time to turn around a play in time for rehearsals which started in May, but the experience was really lovely because I felt like I had a really strong support system with them. I felt confident to go in and be able to say what I want to say with the play.

Can you talk a little about the experience of doing Blackthorn a couple of years ago and returning to Roundabout and what that original experience has been like in writing the play this time.

I didn’t write Blackthorn for Roundabout, it just kind of happened to get there a couple of years after I had written it. It seemed to work so beautifully and perfectly in that space. In a way I think Roundabout is the ultimate studio theatre and I learnt a lot from putting Blackthorn in there which I was conscious about the second time round. I had a lot to think about and draw from through my time as a playwright fellow for Paines Plough and Roundabout being such a home of their company.

We talk about the significance of the Roundabout all the time, there is memories stuck on the walls and past model boxes in random places. I spent a long time thinking about what Roundabout is as an organism of theatre and the philosophy of it, I got really deep into that at the very beginning of my writing process. What I love about Roundabout is that it is portable, you can take in anywhere in the world and in the country.

I think it is the most utilitarian space in theatre and the space of it is just so democratic, it acknowledges theatre as a communal experience. You can tell if anyone checks out of your play in the Roundabout because you are always opposite the audience so if someone sneezes or roots around in their bag for their bottle of water, everyone can see it.

It makes you work really hard as a writer. There is a metaphor running through my play about these two girls standing on tectonic plates and the earth between them being in danger of cracking – I think that is something that works really beautifully in Roundabout because of how encompassing it feels, it is like you are entering its own little world.

I get very geeky about Roundabout. The Dome shape makes it feel like a human head with the brain inside. I almost feel like it gives you liberty to put these very intense emotional pieces in it as you are stepping into the universe of someone’s brain. It feels like it is really trying to get under the surface of something – be that a character or an issue – it works really beautifully in that space because the space allows you to acknowledge human beings and the human experience.


Can you tell us about the title Daughterhood and what that means in relation to the themes of the play.

So obviously ‘daughterhood’ as a word doesn’t actually exist; sisterhood exists, motherhood exists, fatherhood, but daughterhood doesn’t and that is why I was really attracted to it as a title because the play is about being a woman in a family and the expectations that come with the position you are born into or fulfilling in that family.

‘Daughterhood’ is a thing that isn’t spoken about as a concept in the same way as Motherhood is, but it is an equally enormous responsibility to inherit as a woman in a family. I think that is really symbolic how we don’t talk about things that are affecting women a lot on our stage and our screens and the world we live in. For me it is about the inheritance of responsibility that you get as a woman in a family and how unacknowledged that can be.

Would you mind saying a bit about the generational gap that manifests in the two female characters?

The play is about two sisters who are ten years apart in age and I am one of three sisters and we are span a decade.

There are certain things that happened and certain moments in the world in which we were different ages that defined each of us. It is like we all speak slightly different languages and that is what I wanted to explore with these two girls as they arrive at the play.

The play is structured around a moment in the course of 24 hours – the two sisters see two halves of exactly the same moment in time, but the girls have a 10 years age gap, so the world treats them differently in those times. You will see Rachel, the younger sister, gets into university and Pauline, the older sister, gets into university and the different snapshots of those moments reveal how different those experiences are, which leads them to have such fundamentally different experiences of the world.

These differences make it impossible for them to communicate on certain things even though realistically I think the two characters feel and believe similar things. The language that the world has given them from their formative experiences makes them speak completely different languages. I think women have a generational spilt because of certain things that have happened in the world at that time have meant that we experience feminism and gender equality really differently and we speak about it really differently.

:: The Daughterhood production image shoes Charlotte Bate and Charlotte O'Leary. Photo by Rebecca Need-Menear 

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