Bryony Lavery Topics List

Bryony Lavery Topics List taken from her interview with Susan Croft, July 2007 recorded by Arlan Harris.
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs.

Personal background
Grew up in Wakefield and Dewsbury
Father Head of Dewsbury and later Durham Nurses’ Training College
Mother ‘full-time mother and funster’
Centrality of imaginary games – ‘the Brontes without the suffering’

School and college, teachers and theatrical influences
Seeing St Joan, playing Branwell Bronte
College influence of Edward Stanley at Hendon College of Technology
‘you have to go into theatre because you’re hopeless at real life’
NUS (National Union of Students) Drama Festival

Early Work
Stop-gap jobs – publicity, collecting for the Blind
Five years of teaching
Administrator for Incubus Theatre
Working as Liberal Studies teacher at London College of Fashion – teaching three days and ‘supposedly’ writing too

First companies and influences
Starting Les Oeufs Malades with Gerard Bell and Jessica Higgs – writing and directing
Time at Incubus
Influence of Incubus work ‘the sheer nerve of Paddy’s [Fletcher] work’
Influence of people she met: Su Elliot, Peter Leaborne, Gerard Bell
Influence of work seen e.g. The Wee-Wee Extractors (Jim Sweeney, later The Wee Wees), Oval House
First professional play: I Was Too Young at the Time to Understand Why My Mother Was Crying and Sharing – Les Oeufs Malades at Drill Hall (then Action Space)

Later company names: Bryony Lavery’s Extraordinary Productions
Cabarets: Female Trouble

Women only work
The Wild Bunch with Women’s Theatre Group

Personal circumstances
Marriage to Paul Lavery, met at college
Effect of theatre and feminism
Coming out

Description of plays
I Was Too Young at the Time to Understand Why My Mother Was Crying – take off of romantic fiction
Sharing – romantic incompatibility
Grandmother’s Footsteps – influence of romantic fiction in her childhood
Catering Service – vicious piece about appetites, food as central theme
Kitchen Matters – rewrite of The Bacchae (Gay Sweatshop)
Bag –  later directed by Michele Frankel with rising star, Josie Lawrence, Catherine Apanowitz.
Hot Time – for Common Stock on General Strike

Commissions for Monstrous Regiment: Calamity, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
Origin of the Species, two cabarets: Floorshow and Time Gentlemen Please

Writing cabaret
Appeal of writing for cabaret
Floorshow (Monstrous Regiment)
Controversy over Time Gentlemen Please at Leeds (Monstrous Regiment)
Monstrous Regiment and early companies carried the demands to be all things to all parts of the feminist movement

Female Trouble, Lou Wakefield, Anne Marie Davies and Caroline Noh,
directed by Caroline Eaves, Arts Theatre

More Female Trouble. Show was ‘glamorous, fierce and good’, Snow Queen as underlying structure
Use of fairy tale in her work – as structure and for satire and pastiche, influence of Bettelheim

Owning and writing about rage, fury, loss and despair
Before that she ‘had to make the world laugh’, now ‘majors in love, sex, death’

Unicorn Writer in Residence (TIE) – position as writer for children,
not valued equally

Further productions:

Origin of the Species 1984 (Monstrous Regiment)
Key women and science play, first published play
Working process with Gillian Hanna, Mary McCusker, director Nona Shepphard, designer Jenny Carey
Audience reaction

Witchcraze 1985 (Women’s Theatre Group)
Nona Sheppard, director, Jenny Carey, designer
Working process
Helen Gavin, Stephanie  Pugsley, Eileen George,
‘the witchifying of women’ through the ages

The Wandsworth Warmers
Came out of Su Elliot, Jessica Higgs, Sally Greenwood and Pippa Sparkes involvement in Extraordinary Productions production of BL’s Family Album
20 minutes initially, based on their lives

Bryony Lavery as small business
Treats her (one person) workforce gently

Gay Sweatshop
Invited onto the Board, nominally joint Artistic Director
Kitchen Matters as a gay Bacchae, using various different styles including kitchen sink drama

Drill Hall pantos
Cheryl Moch’s Cinderella, BL got swept in as ‘the person in the panto who can’t act for toffee’
The next year Friaress Tuck in Nona Shepphard’s Robin Hood and Her Merry Men
The Snow Queen
playing all the bit parts
Writing Peter Pan and playing Tinkerbell in a green tutu
Sleeping Beauty, as the Old Crone

Other plays
Her Aching Heart for Women’s Theatre Group
Invited by Claire Grove, sexual politics through romantic fiction
Nicola Kathryns and Sarah Pritchard
Influence of Woman’s Weekly serials and Georgette Heyer

Wicked for Clean Break, women ex-offenders
Freakshow play/cabaret
Lackadaisical as Musical Director
Wicked is done a lot, recently in Australia
Research in Holloway

Work with Perspectives /New Perspectives
Commissioned by director Helen White

Work for Theatre Centre – enjoyment of working with them
The Two Marias
Zulu Hot Club
Getting Through
and Over and Out

Experimenting in new forms
Working with Frantic Assembly, movement -based
Precious Bane, site-specific at Ludlow Castle
Relationship with agent at PND

More other plays
Goliath with Sphinx
Nicola McAuliffe, director Annie Castledine
Riots in England in 1991 as starting-points – Cardiff, Oxford and Newcastle
Influence of Bea Campbell and Judith Jones

Frozen Started in Birmingham, then NT and went to Broadway
Has become her signature piece
Difficulty of reflection of play in Sarah Payne and Soham murders.
Writing the central male character.
A play about grief, distress, revenge, human recovery from the most terrible things.

Wedding Story
Mother / daughter relationship, Alzheimer’s
Kika Markham and Jackie Clunes
Relationship with Annie Castledine as director

Other directors
Nona Shepphard, Bill Alexander, Doug Hughes

What drives her
Issue of recognition and fame
Learning to write, getting better, interest and fun
Doing something new – writing a libretto, a scientific play
Involvement in process

Legacy of feminism: ‘the era I was born into theatre’
Fury and cautious optimism

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