My theatre work has embraced the roles of director, producer, voice coach, actor, singer, composer, musical director and theatre historian. I studied flute, singing and piano at the Royal College of Music as a Junior Exhibitioner and went on to study acting at Mountview Theatre School. For many years I worked as an actor, singer, composer and musical director in the West End, London Fringe, national and small-scale touring and Theatre-in-Education.
In 1976 with Gerard Bell and Bryony Lavery, I co-founded Les Oeufs Malades which produced the early plays of Bryony Lavery in London and nationally. Further work with Bryony Lavery was as actor/composer in the 1980s dramatic cabaret The Wandsworth Warmers at the Drill Hall, Piccadilly Theatre and National Theatre.
In 1984 with director Paddi Taylor, I co-founded Signs of Life theatre company presenting a double-bill of plays by the experimental, feminist American playwright Joan Schenkar (Fulfilling Koch’s Postulate and Cabin Fever), followed by Waiting for Maria by Judi Scott, both at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill. Waiting for Maria went on to play at Theatre Workshop as part of the 1988 Edinburgh Festival. I acted in and composed the music for both productions.
In 1984 I was asked to compose the music for Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric, Hammersmith, and during the same period composed music for Lin Coghlan’s, A Feeling in My Bones (Theatre Centre) and Rattlin’ the Cage (Half Moon YPT), Diane Samuel’s, Turncoat (Theatre Centre), Lisa Evan’s, Slap! (Humberside YPT) and Lucky Country (Milton Keynes). In 1989 I joined Gay Sweatshop as assistant musical director on Paradise Now and Then by Noel Greig and Richard Coles. From this production, where I had trained the community choir that was part of it, I formed the lesbian and gay Paradise Choir which I conducted and ran until 1992.
In 1990 I studied on the specialist Voice Studies course at Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD) and since then have worked extensively as a freelance voice coach in theatre, film and actor training. Production work has included: Salisbury Playhouse, Bolton Octagon, Mercury Colchester, Soho Theatre and Royal Court, Mamma Mia! in the West End, The Prince and the Pauper for Hallmark Films and the BBC’s Father Brown. Training: The Poor School, CSSD, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Rose Bruford College, Northampton & Middlesex Universities and for several London based American colleges including BADA (British American Drama Academy), Fordham London Dramatic Academy and Syracuse University London Centre.
I teach regularly at the Actors Centre, BADA and CSSD.
In 2000 I established my own company In Tandem TC. So titled because it was my policy to work in tandem with those who were the subject of the work being developed. For the company I produced and directed a double bill of Harold Pinter’s Mountain Language and Landscape, translated and performed in British Sign Language (BSL) with Deaf and hearing actors, and the British premiere of Smudge, by Canadian playwright, Alex Bulmer (both Time Out’s Critics Choice); developed kin’a’hora, a performance piece looking at Anglo-Jewish identity with spoken word poet, Leah Thorn, subsequently made into a short film My Amulet and premiered at the 2008 UK Jewish Film Festival; and developed with French-African actor Aicha Kossoko and Sierra Leonian John Adewole, a Black cast version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. In Tandem’s collaboration with Susan Croft on Unfinished Histories began after her inaugural event
‘Unfinished Histories’ at the Theatre Museum in 2006. In 2012 In Tandem TC became Unfinished Histories Ltd.
My contribution to Unfinished Histories has been that of oral history interviewer, audio and video editor, website manager and events producer.
As a freelance director my work includes: Four Portraits – Of Mothers (Arnold Wesker, Bridewell Theatre), Lady Gray (Will Eno, Soho Theatre), Pig Tales (Julie McNamara, Jackson’s Lane, National & International tours), Pig’s Sister (Julie McNamara, Theatre Workshop Edinburgh Festival), The Playboy of the Western World (J.M.Synge, Workhouse Theatre), Red Riding Hood (Soho Community Group), Signs #1 (devised BSL play, co-directed with Paula Garfield, Sallis Benney Brighton), In No Particular Order (Clare Summerskill, National tour) and Unfinished Histories’ rehearsed reading of Jane Arden’s Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven at the Tonybee Studios, November 2009.
I directed writer/storyteller Yang-May Ooi in her sell-out solo show Bound Feet Blues in 2015
and with Janet Behan on her double bill Realtine/Noreen in 2016 as part of Camden Fringe 2016, both at the Tristan Bates Theatre. Most recently I worked with Lyndsey Jones, Clare Jones and Julia Collier on Sex, Spies and Streaming at the Hen and Chickens as part of Camden Fringe 2017.
I am currently developing a production of Daleen Kruger’s Draadwerk about the life of South
African Outsider artist Helen Martins for 2018.
My work in Disability Arts has been extensive and pioneering. As well as my own work with In Tandem TC, I have been a mentor, trainer and director with Graeae Theatre including work on The Changeling and Diary of an Action Man and have worked as voice consultant with Deafinitely Theatre (BSL and English). My work in this area has led to invitations to speak at: What is theatre? LIFT 2004 Enquiry (Barge House, London South Bank); Changing the Scene – performance and creative access in theatre for and by visually impaired people (Royal National Theatre 2004); and Inclusion in Training & Performance for Disabled Actors (RADA 2003).
I have been a theatre assessor for the Arts Council and Shell Connections at the National Theatre.
Sharing by Bryony Lavery, with Gerard Bell (Les Oeufs Malades)
Bag by Bryony Lavery, with Janet Behan and Steph Bramwell (Les Oeufs Malades)
The Wandsworth Warmers with Pippa Sparkes and Su Elliott
Fulfilling Koch’s Postulate by Joan Schenkar (Signs of Life, photo: Sheila Burnett)
Waiting for Maria by Judi Scott (Signs of Life)