Georgina Tremayne tells us all about the journey of her upcoming production Thelma and Louise - and Karen (21st & 22nd August)
Wendy Lee Taylor (over 37, THELMA) and Julia Fossi (over 37, LOUISE) were taking a break during a rehearsal of another play when the conversation switched to the lack of roles on stage and in film for women who are over 37. I (over 37) was a bit surprised because Wendy’s currently playing a lead role in a feature film and both Julia and Wendy have done 5 or 6 of my plays between them (the age ranges usually specify 20 – 150). Anyway, it got us talking about women in film and theatre and what a great idea it would be to go on a Roadtrip and film the whole thing (like Spinal Tap for women) and finish up at a London venue and put on a play there that had something to do with women going on a roadtrip. “Riot!” Julia said. “I always wanted to do a show in London,” Wendy said. Then someone (not me) said “it’s like the film Thelma and Louise”, which I dismissed outright and decided it would be “nothing, absolutely nothing, like Thelma and Louise”. For a start, there were three of us. “Okay then” (probably) Wendy said. “How about Thelma and Louise – and Karen?” which we all thought was a bloody great name for a play and quickly forgot the fact that Thelma and Louise had edged their way back into the title; the name stuck. We all agreed that the play had to be a comedy because the world’s too dark right now but it had to have some rip-roaring themes charging through it, so it became a black comedy. And at that point I agreed to play Karen but only on the condition that I would not be acting on stage because I can’t act even if you put a gun to my head, but I can do voices. Then someone had the brilliant idea - it might have been me because I was panicking about the very real possibly of having to act on stage after all - to get Steph (over 37, just about) involved.
(this is the transcript of our phone conversation)
Me: “Steph, it’s just to read the KAREN role. Because I’m playing Karen. So it’ll really help me hear how it’s coming across, because I can’t hear the part if I read it. No commitment to the play at all, Steph, honest. Thanks for helping. Really. You’re great. No commitment. We all know, we’re all very aware, that theatre’s a massive time commitment. And you don’t have time, Steph, and we know the money sucks. And we want to do it in London too. Especially Wendy.
Steph: Wendy’s in it?
Me: Yep. She’s THELMA.
Steph: Wendy’s a really good friend.
Me: Is she? (I knew this).
Steph: I haven’t been to London. I always wanted to go there.
Me: How old are you, Steph?
Steph: Over 37.
Me: And you’ve never been to London?
Me: You want to go to London?
Me: So are you in?
(this is the text message)
Me: Hi Al
Me: I wrote a play. It’s got some voice-only roles in it. No lines to learn. Interested?
Me: You’re the only bloke in the production
Al: I’m in
Everyone: We need money for flights and stuff to get to London.
Steph: Is it expensive?
Me: It’s about a million quid a pint.
Me: I know.
Everyone: So what do we do?
Wendy/Me/Julia: We put the show on here** first, raise the cash and then go to London.
Everyone: Where can we stage it here? Somewhere funky? Quirky? Pop-up bar? Yes, pop-up bar.
Julia: Julie’s place. It’s giant. Gorgeous. 40 seats overlooking Plaza Reial. We do 4 nights and if we sell out, we’re covered.
Wendy: What if we don’t sell out?
Julia: It’ll be fine.
Wendy: It’s the summer. People are on the beach. Up mountains. Are they going to want to see a play?
Me: We’ve got air-conditioning.
Steph: And a pop-up bar.
Julia: It’ll be fine.
Me: Is Julie really okay with us using her place?
Julia: She’ll be fine. But don’t mention it to her. Okay? Don’t mention it to her at all because it might stress her out. She’s got Ella’s 18th birthday party 2 days before we open and loads of people staying there.
Everyone: Erm... Okay then.
Wendy: Where can we stay in London?
Julia: I’ve got a friend with a porn studio, ha ha, off Hoxton Square. It’s massive. I’ll ask him if we can stay there. He’s away a lot. Or my mate in Islington. You know, from the wedding last month. Leave it with me.
Me: I’ll borrow lights for the show here from the Open University.
Julia: Right. Fancy a drink?
(**here = Barcelona. We Sold Out 4 nights, made enough cash to pay for the London trip and raised 250 euros for these 2 kids too)
So…we needed a venue and I kept getting messages (signs, if you like) about this place called The Bread and Roses in Clapham. I saw them on hiive offering encouragement to theatre groups, and I read about the 2 women who set up theatre there in a grassroots way – and then a friend told me that his daughter works in the pub at the Bread and Roses and it was the slogan on the banners of 27,000 female textile workers who went on strike in 1912 to improve their working conditions. I told the group.
Everyone: “We have to do it there!”
Thelma and Louise – and Karen goes up 21 & 22 August at The Bread and Roses Theatre.