Coffee with Vera returns to the Plymouth History Festival during May, so if you haven’t had the pleasure of coffee with Vera yet, come along, it’s free. The show runs for 50 minutes and then afterwards there is the all important conversations with the coffee and, if we are lucky the kosher cake!
WHEN ? Wednesday 11.5.16 @ 11am & Saturday 14.5.26 @ 7pm in the Plymouth Synagogue, Catherine Street PL1 2AD
I believe Wednesday is getting pretty full but if you want to come please book a place via this number 07753 267616 or email@example.com
Coffee with Vera is a performance I made as part of my MRes in Theatre & Performance at Plymouth University.
Next month we will be taking my current show Homeward Bound back to my roots. The show deals with our childhood dreams and I share the hopes of my mother and grandmother and the restrictions that were placed on them.
I grew up in Bradford within a three storey household of women, three generations to be precise (one generation per floor) and I later moved over the moors to Hebden Bridge, where I lived for ten years and where my son was born. It will be nostalgic and very personal to play in my home town at the Bradford Playhouse, where my mother was (almost) a fixture, or so it seemed to me growing up. I would be taken on a Sunday, on ‘fit up’ Sundays to watch the technical and dress rehearsals and eat in the basement cafe and have a celebratory drink in the bar afterwards. Anyone would think that sitting through a technical rehearsal at such a young age would have put me off the theatre but it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say that those Sundays and my parents love of the Bradford Playhouse is what prompted my own childhood dream… to work in the theatre.
During the month of February I am facilitating, alongside Dr Phil Smith, the Sited Theatre module for first year students at Plymouth University and we will take them away from the safety net of the campus and into new spaces across the city. Ironically we have been based this week at the Plymouth Athenaeum which, among its many spaces, is a 300 seater theatre. In its current guise it is a post war building (1961) that has all the hall marks of that era but, as with so many inner city buildings here in Plymouth, before the war there stood a much grander building. Designed by John Foulston, who was a leading architect in Plymouth for 25 years designing many buildings in Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport (including the Devonport Guildhall and Egyptian House in Kerr Street), the old building was very much in the Greek revival style. Owen, the key holder gave us a tour and was passionate about the history and the standing that the Athenaeum had had as a seat of learning with stories of Darwin and other scientific illuminates rubbing shoulders alongside the Beatles.
When the building was rebuilt in 1961 it was next door to Westward Television Studios (now a pile of rubble) and the ABC cinema (now the Reel Cinema), Westward used the theatre in the Athenaeum to mount their in-house game shows which they recorded from the stage. In order to do this they had to lay cables from the two buildings and built tunnels that ran from the two buildings to contain the electric cables. In 1963 when the Beatles came to Plymouth and played the ABC cinema they were taken from the Television studios through the tunnels to hide them from the screaming girls outside. For part of our tour we were taken down into the tunnels where the walls are peeling and the photographs of the Beatles lay hidden away underground.
These stories, alongside being in the space where history was made brought to life the past for us. The students came away with ideas spinning in their heads ready to take inspiration from the tour and turn it into performances. This was a wonderful start to the month, which will take them into unknown city territory to create pieces that hopefully will have the same inspiration that we found underground at the Athenaeum.
We have had great previews for Homeward Bound as it started the South West tour at the Brewhouse Taunton. The Western Morning News on Sunday had a lovely double page article written by Jemima Laing, which you can read here. Also Exeter Life has a great half page spread by Sue Carroll -see below
and the British Baseball Federation have this article on their website click here
You can also hear me being interviewed by Matt Faulkner for BBC Radio Somerset here (at one hour and 25 minutes in)
I’ve partnered with the South West Baseball League to create a tour of Homeward Bound, my show about my son’s love of baseball and my own Northern upbringing. From September it will be touring to all the south west towns and cities who have baseball teams that play in the south west baseball league. In receipt of a Homeward Bound flyer or programme, audience members have the opportunity to a free training session with their local baseball team.
Plymouths inaugural fringe festival is a week away, over 100 performances in venues all over the city. Plymouth has been in need of this for longer than I care to remember, I have witnessed a lot of theatre makers leaving the region to get their work seen in cities with more opportunities for independent artists. My hope is that audiences in the region get behind the initiative, come out and sample the work.
My own show Homeward Bound is playing Thursday 28th May at 6.30 and Saturday 30th May at 4pm. For more information click on the Homeward Bound tab above. For more information on the fringe festival go to http://plymouthfringe.com