How did a comment that stuck in the mind, an Olivier Award-winning playwright and TV show Shameless combine to help create new comedy Taking Liberties? Playwright Caroline Gray and director Stephanie Silver explain. Read their interview then book your tickets!
The latest production from Glass Half Full Theatre runs at the Bread and Roses Theatre until 1 June 2019.
Join Amy as she takes you on a hilarious, vivid and sometimes brutal journey through her life. From losing her Morrison’s job for chucking sausages at a customer, fo filming baked bean fetish videos in a paddling pool, to switching on the old ‘Oliver Twist’ to get away with a bit of childhood shoplifting, she does her own thing and she certainly doesn’t need to rely on anyone else for help. But can she move away from past mistakes and forge a lasting relationship with her brother?
Playwright and actor Caroline Gray first performed Taking Liberties as a 15-minute piece at a Scratch night run by Actor Awareness, an organisation that works for more equality, diversity and working class voices in the arts. With the help of Actor Awareness and John Brittain, who wrote the Olivier Award-winning Rotterdam, she’s developed it into the play coming to the Bread and Roses Theatre.
Stephanie Silver directs the production. The New Writing Producer of Actor Awareness and Artistic Director of Glass Half Full Theatre, Silver previously directed productions including Our Big Love Story at The Hope Theatre and Walk of Shame at the White Bear Theatre.
Taking Liberties runs at Bread and Roses Theatre, 68 Clapham Manor St, Clapham, London SW4 6DZ from 28 May to 1 June with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £10. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Caroline Gray & Stephanie Silver on Taking Liberties
What inspired you to write Taking Liberties?
Caroline: I heard this thing once about how we’re all only two mistakes away from homelessness and it stuck with me. The more I thought about it the more I had questions. Who’s mistakes? Our own or some one else’s? What would those mistakes be? And is that true? Are we all only two mistakes from homelessness? Or are some of us born luckier in that we’d need to make more mistakes than just two to truly get to the point of being homeless. I also wanted to create a vibrant and colourful character who’s funny and intelligent. Someone who is both strong, unapologetic and vulnerable. A woman who’s as complex as all the women I know in my real life. As an actress those are the most exciting parts to play and there aren’t always an abundance of parts like that about so I stocked up on Jaffa Cakes and gave it a go myself. These two things mingled as I wrote the character of Amy and I ended up with Taking Liberties.
What has been the highlights of developing of Taking Liberties?
Caroline: The show has been developed over the last year. Some highlights would be Jon Brittain seeing the show at Actor Awareness and offering dramaturg support for writing the full piece. Being in the Actor Awareness new writing festival and working class season at the Tristan Bates Theatre, They were great opportunities to develop the show and shape it into what it is now.
Have there been any stumbling blocks developing the play?
Stephanie: Like anything, money. I always loved Caroline’s script from the moment I read it and wanted to direct it but was always so busy. When Caroline got offered a slot for the working class season and didn’t have a director attached, I offered as I really believe in her as a writer and the message behind her story. Very human.
What attracted you to stage this production at The Bread & Roses Theatre?
Stephanie: The Bread and Roses is a new writing venue and we have seen several shows here that have the ethos we have of making the best fringe theatre around (hopefully).
Who should see this production?
Stephanie: It’s a working class story that has a strong message about social care and family support. Ken Loach would be a fantastic person [to see the show] after his I, Daniel Blake. The story revolves around down on her luck Amy, who is on the dole but can’t keep her job. At the end of the day its about the support system that fails her. We are hoping to get Centre Point involved as well.
Caroline: My mum made sure I grew up on a diet of Clocking Off, Playing the Field, Shameless and, more recently, No Offence. I love the characters Paul Abbott writes so I’d be pretty chuffed if he came to see it.
What do you think the state of British Fringe Theatre is right now, and how does Taking Liberties fit into it?
Stephanie: British fringe is ever evolving and is producing some brilliant work. I know some fantastic companies producing work better than I’ve seen at some big producing houses. Fringe companies being born out of collaboration and artists trying to get things done. I think fringe can really provide the backdrop to some fab artists. Annoyingly, theatre is expensive to make, so it’s about thinking, ‘What am I dong this show for and why?’ For Glass Half Full, Taking Liberties is about class, homelessness and social care, but isn’t a show full of doom and gloom. There is a real heart to the character Caroline has created and you are giving a stereotype a face. I think that’s important and as a working class creative myself, I want people to see the fully layered humans behind these stereotypes and also that we aren’t pushed out of theatre yet as places like The Bread and Roses let us do our thing without vast vast amounts of risks.