Battersea Arts Centre Live On

I am saddened by the fire at this wonderful arts centre last Friday. Yet warmed by the news that donations are already pouring in to help rebuild the damage – such is the will to keep hold of the bricks, space and spirit of this place.

Driving through Battersea today, I remember the play that I staged there when I was 30. I had just finished the (rather long titled) National Theatre Young Directors’ Programme at the National Theatre Studio which Ian Rickson, the talented, mellow (and gorgeous) Director of The Royal Court at the time, had put my name up for, for which I am truly grateful. “After the course, you want to be putting on a show quite quickly,” Ian encouraged me, so I looked for my opportunity.

Tom Morris was Artistic Director at Battersea, and after attending a workshop with him at the National Studio, I was brave, introduced myself properly and we chatted about my idea – a play about a dystopian world run by ecologists and based on bee society. Soon after he invited me to stage my show as part of a music and theatre programme ‘A Sharp Intake of Music’. This was a fantastic and terrifying opportunity to write and direct my first show in London – it was called ‘Beauty and The Breast’.  The script came out of a week of improvisation, a lot of filtering of ideas and then writing up a structure and a script of a kind, though there was as much physical theatre as words and that’s quite difficult to fix in a script. Matthew Barley improvised live on stage and two talented actors, Helen Laing and Nuria Bennet moved, danced and spoke. It was a true collaboration of theatre and live music, and was properly experimental. I’m not sure which other venue at the time would have been so open to such an idea.

It was very enjoyable a process and lots of the audience were impressed and moved, though I was embarrassed to have made the mistake of employing a young Australian lighting operator who got all the cues wrong. Gah!

In the press cuttings, the show is described as work in progress. My life took a different direction immediately afterwards. I started to teach at BA then MA level, write animation and TV. Then babies arrived…. However, I have had a little interest recently in exploring this topic again with a writer friend who works at the RSC, so perhaps it will have a chance to progress.

Thanks Battersea Arts Centre for giving us this opportunity, and I really hope you recover quickly.

The Battersea Arts Centre programme…


Our flyer…

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Press cuttings…

London Life - Version 2 Scan 4

Photos of Matthew Barley, Helen Laing and Nuria Bennet with Throb, the god of this dystopian world…

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Stunning hand written design sketches from Sally Daniels…

Scan 8 Sally Daniels- design storyboard