We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager!’ is the remarkable story of Jayaben Desai the inspirational leader of the 1976-78 Grunwick Film Processing Factory Strike.

She was recently amongst the women who have had the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past 70 years as part of the Radio 4 Women’s Hour Power List.She brought the issue of workplace exploitation and racism to the fore, challenged the perception of Asian women being inherently passive and docile, whilst having the measure of the most brutish and charmless of her managers, telling them:

“What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!”

She not only stood up for workers’ rights and against oppression with selfless dedication, but with her steadfast resolve, she turned the dispute into a national movement for human rights and dignity inspiring future generations. 

Neil Gore (writer) said: “In our work we aim to focus on the lives and contributions of inspirational and vital figures from our social history, often forgotten, who campaigned vigorously to improve the quality of life for everyone. Jayaben Desai is one such figure. She tirelessly fought on behalf of immigrant workers against exploitative employment practice; fearlessly faced all the elements of establishment authority; alerted many in the trade union movement to the issues of vulnerability of immigrant workers; and highlighted the fight to maintain basic trade union rights. Her resolve and courage should be remembered and celebrated. Also, Grunwick raised many wide-ranging questions about trade unionism, rights in the workplace and dignity at work - themes that still resonate and are relevant today.”

Medhavi Patel (actress) said: “I am so excited to be playing Jayaben Desai in this important play about the Grunwick Strike. I am a distant relative of Jayaben's, and although I didn't know her personally her story is one that inspires me as a woman from a Gujarati background.

“I think there are so many hidden role models within Indian culture. There are so many amazing women and men in our communities doing some amazing things but you don't hear about them.

“Jayaben's story is one that deserves to be told again and again, and I am honoured to be playing her.






  • The Guardian Readers favourite shows of 2017

    The Guardian
    Read the full review

  • 'The story of Jayaben Desai... makes you laugh, feel and think... a powerful story, powerfully told.'
    Clare Brennan. The Observer
    Read the full review

  • One of London's top shows of 2017
    Read the full review

  • "Magnificent Play"
    Peter Frost. The Morning Star (Front Page)
    Read the full review

  • "Spellbinding and Mesmerising, theatre at it's best"
    Owen J Lewis. I Love shrewsbury
    Read the full review

  • 'Superb piece of political drama from the peerless Townsend Theatre Productions.'
    Jeremy Miles. Bournemouth Echo
    Read the full review

  • 'This production is an absolute winner.'
    Chris Omaweng. @LondonTheatre1
    Read the full review

  • 'This is theatre that is worth experiencing and it’s an important contribution to understanding how politics defines our lives.'

    ''In some respects its Brechtian in feel though more accurate would be to say it’s “Townsendesque” – a term that does not

    @bourbonoza Peter Yates
    Read the full review

  • 'Neil Gore’s lively play We Are the Lions, Mr Manager! celebrates this important struggle focusing on the words and action of Jayaben Desai given a passionate engaging performance by Medhavi Patel.'
    British Theatre Guide
    Read the full review

  • 'Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike hits all the right notes'
    Bill Mullins The Socialist Paper
    Read the full review

  • ‘We are the Lions Mr Manager’ is a small but perfectly formed play which tells the story of the Grunwick strike.'
    Harmit Athwal Institute of Race Relations
    Read the full review

IMG 0417


The Partners for this project so far :

The Place Bedford - rehearsal space and time, casting and marketing

Tara Arts – in S.W. London; founded in 1977 to creatively reflect the infinite variety of modern Britain, they currently lead the consortium of Black Theatre Live – they will assist in casting and marketing

Harrogate Theatre – set building and marketing

Luton Hat Factory – casting and marketing

Ruskin College, Oxford – production development, education and marketing

GMB – marketing, publicity, education and contact with school/college programmes

Unite the Union – fund-raising, marketing and education

Other unions – some financial/marketing assistance