Bryony Lavery and the Theatre Centre

Bryony recalls:
‘I joined Theatre Centre for work but also because the company had a good reputation. I first made a show called The Zulu Hut Club which was about four different cultures meeting and having to make up the rules of their club. It was a comedy and great fun to make. I remember Faith Tingle was in it. For the women’s group I wrote Two Marias about two mothers whose daughters were involved in the same car crash and the wrong mother claimed the surviving daughter. It was very popular with women teachers particularly as the mothers’ stories were heartbreaking.

The two linked shows Over and Out and Getting Through, I co-wrote and co-directed with Nona Shepphard. Getting Through was the break-out success for the Women’s company with fab songs, a stellar cast of Adjoa Andoh, Nicola Kathrens, Janice Chambers and Antonia Coca. The two shows were about a bullied child in school reaching helpful magical supporters lodged in a concealed cupboard which was a conduit to a better world. The shows were supposed to be linked by live radio transmission between two schools, which was impossible to achieve.

We had a three-week wonderful exploratory time with both companies, exploring and trying stuff out. We had a wonderful afternoon being humans receiving aliens from outer space (exhausting for the humans) exploring a post-apocalyptic time, all sorts of in-depth impros and discussions, men became women and vice versa, ending with a huge rain storm – we all went up on the roof and danced naked in the rain!

Highs, were the trust to write imaginatively and hard about big issues. Nona Shepphard, Adjoa Andoh, Janys Chambers, Sue Hill, Bill Mitchell, Nicola Kathrens and Antonia Coca were the people who lit my fire there. Lows, were the early morning shows – I never really loved having to perform in schools. I’m a committed plays-in-theatres or magical designated spaces, not school halls with teachers treating the shows like something unimportant.

The Women’s company and the Mixed company were set up and developed before my time – I just enjoyed the benefits! I left Theatre Centre after I’d done three shows. It was time – I am freelance and never stay at companies permanently.’

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