She Called Me Mother – Writing Workshops

Really excited to be working with Poole Lighthouse and Lit Up! on delivering writing workshops in the community inspired by ‘She Called Me Mother’ which will be performed on 15th and 16th October – having read bits  of the script its sure to be great!

The workshops will take the script as a starting point and hopefully participants will finish the session having had fun with words and with the beginnings of their very own monologue, written in their ‘own voice’.

Boscombe Fringe Festival

So I have been incredibly quiet on the solo performer front since way back before the sun had really shone and when the optimism of early summer was still upon, now as the nights draw in and the sun shines once again, alas I am indoors.

But that’s a fair sacrifice to make for Boscombe Fringe Festival  which is taking place 13th &14th of September.

There’s some wonderful work and I’ve my director’s head on three shows, my events management head on the whole affair and my marketing head hoping it will all look beautiful and that the word will spread far and wide… and we’ll get some funding to make it bigger and better next year!

Having originally hoped to simply programme a small in house affair in Vita Nova’s new venue in Boscombe I was quickly approached by other companies and artists wanting to programme work… so with virtually no budget and a bit of whim, blind faith and a stubborn attitude we have a really exciting line up (here) including, photography, film, spoken word, theatre, live art & workshops!

Testament to the power of thought – the secret is out of the bag and best of all the whole lot is free to attend, however if you thought we did a good job … well we’d like you to pay what you think it was worth on your way out!

I do hope this sunshine lasts all September.

‘A Lone Woman’s Travels’

tdt may 5

A Lone Woman’s Travels

“I went alone because I wanted to be free” – In 1930 Joyce Reason took a walk from Glastonbury to Winchester. In 2012 Gemma Alldred set off on a walk to be an archeologist of the heart, to retrace steps and to discover a story of love waiting to be told.

I am very excited to announce that I will be performing a work in progress as part of the ongoing ‘The Distance Travelled’ research on Friday 24th at Winchester discovery centre as part of FLINTsparks evening of scratch performances hosted by the very lovely Two Destination Language

Tickets are FREE and available here – be wonderful to see you there.


… still fairly top secret, yet very exciting new project on the horizon.

I can say this though….exactly how much power might a rumour have?

So many other exciting things in life in Bournemouth too.

Just spent an Arvon week, with the most exciting emerging talent, raw, fresh, vital and simply screaming to be heard, and the best bit is I get to keep working with them all – its my job. Although consequently, as all beautiful new projects have a tendency to do, ‘The Distance Travelled’ and dear old Joyce are slipping further out of reach.

Decidedly time for some to do lists and action plans!

What is theatre anyway?

Today I feel like I need to write about theatre, and what it is, and what it might be, and what I think it should be.

I feel I need to write about this, to understand it better for myself. A manifesto of sorts.


This is not entirely out of the blue, several things have happened in several recent days that have led me to have to ask this question again, I am reminded of the first essay title set to me as a theatre student in 2005 – ‘what is art?’

On Thursday I took a group to see two pieces of dance, their responses to what they saw interested me, scared me and challenged me. I hadn’t quite predicted their response and as I am to be working with this organisation and client group to make work and think about how to support and programme the artistic activity they make and are part of, it is vital to me as both an artist and practitioner to be responsive to their needs rather than impose what I think they need. Whilst also remaining true to my needs and artistic integrity. Community arts are much harder (yet perhaps infinitely more rewarding) than may be assumed from an outside perspective.


So I left on Thursday evening questioning what I knew and how best to use what I know to begin a new conversation with the community I’ve been employed to make work with. I was reminded of ‘theatre 101’ a beginners class which is emblematic of the work I developed with Converge. A class which begins with Peter Brook’s (perhaps overly quoted) assertion:

I can take an empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.

This is where I begin again, as I begin re-reading his book ‘The Empty Space’ and finding again sources of inspiration of what theatre is, and what it could be.


I am in Bournemouth, a place where there are no producing houses, much of the receiving theatres here are clearly programmed with a bums on seats, blue rinse and tourist type mentality. With the exception of Pavilion Dance South West  there is virtually no new work and very few risks being taken.


Arguably much onstage here isn’t theatre but light entertainment, and the theatre which is shown is arguably of Peter Brook’s ‘Deadly Theatre’.

Theatre is a dialogue, a conversation. Theatre can be a dialogue, a conversation.

Good theatre, that which reflects its community, which speaks to those who watch.
And those who watch, rather than sit in silence waiting to be told, instead strain to hear.


This theatre, this good theatre is a conversation with the community it serves. It reflects their stories, their issues, their difficulties; it does not tell the classics and the well known texts, it does not rely on script and sound told a thousand times so no one can remember any longer why they are there, why they are listening – other than they thought they ought to be there.

This theatre, like the books I buy because I think I should’ve read them (Paradise Lost, The Odessey…etc) this theatre will eventually die. It serves no one because it preaches in Latin to a congregation that neither can, nor wishes to understand a dead language.


Although here I sit, with my Masters degree typing about what I, in my educated position believe theatre is. How do I begin to serve the theatre in this new community, how can I play my part it making it vital, lively and loved?

Today I saw for myself the Shelley Manor theatre and my mind began to wander again… here is a space about to breath new life into one of the most deprived areas of England, people in Boscombe are wide and varied, much like the history of the place.


Outside the local Wetherspoons I’ve observed men in pale denim jeans shout revelries towards each other at 11am on a Tuesday morning, I’ve seen women with prams pushing babies and chatting Polish, I’ve heard market traders extoll the virtue of the place, I’ve seen yummy mummys and young women with well spoken accents sip cappuccinos in the bohemian coffee houses, whilst outside on the street an addict scours the ground for the useful ends of partially smoked cigarettes.


Any theatre here, and vital theatre here perhaps needs to ask of itself, who is our community?

After leaving the theatre today I sat and thought long and hard about all of these fragments and considerations and I reflected that walking to the theatre today I’d seen young men in caps and tracksuit bottoms, overweight women in jumpsuits with broods of children, yet walking around the theatre day, white, middle class, middle age, well to do types.


Now this isn’t a criticism; affluent, cultured communities get things done.

We give a damn, we letter write, we turn up and give our time for free, for the causes we care about. But I have to wonder if a theatre in Boscombe, a community theatre, needs to widen its reach if it to be truly successful and find a way in which asks everyone to come inside and to take this theatre as its own.

IMG_4264I may even go as far as to suggest every theatre across the country should be asking this question of itself…. and for the love of theatre, no more shall we hear the cry of ‘a handbag‘, can anyone remember why it was relevant in the first place or are we still simply filling our theatres, like I fill my bookshelves – with things I think make me look educated, cultured and respected.

Why do we go to the theatre?  What is theatre?

Theatre is a conversation that demands of its creators to listen and reflect back the stories its community needs to hear.


Theatre is a conversation in which its audience and community listen to hear, they don’t always expect to be entertained, rather they come for that unique and vital fleeting moment that happens in space and time, live, between people when suddenly something quite unspeakable is understood.


This is my theatre.

I will close with a little more Peter Brook, as I read this quote today (p.43) I smiled in recognition of the question I constantly ask myself when producing work by other communities: How can shape a performance in such a way that allow’s their voices not just to be listened to, but demands that they are heard?

When I hear a director speaking glibly of serving the author, of letting a play speak for itself, my suspicions are aroused, because this is the hardest job of all. If you just let a play speak it may not make a sound. If what you want is for the play to be heard, then you must conjure a sound from it.


FOOTNOTE: [I perhaps conveniently or idealistically am omitting to mention money, affluent bums on seats create more profit, although I am still to understand why it is always assumed that affluent bums on seats will only watch that which they were taught was right to watch.]

Photographs of Shelley Theatre – Author’s own work.

To everyone I’ve ever loved….

…I spelt your name out in stones….

and  sandy beaches…….

I was recently talking to a writer and poet about ‘The Distance Travelled’ (which has now brought me to Bournemouth, hence the incredibly long gap in digital updates), I was describing how it ends, me waiting and explaining to the audience that I made this piece for an unrequieted love, that I wait for that love to be in the audience, so that they might know my feelings and maybe, just maybe they’d then be reciprocated… that maybe you could be sat next to that person…. you might look around.

He said, “ah that reminds me of a poem”. Which he genorously dug out and sent to me. Here it is…

Spenser: Amoretti LXXV

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,

but came the waves and washèd it away:

agayne I wrote it with a second hand,

but came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.

Vayne man, sayd she, that doest in vaine assay,

a mortall thing so to immortalize,

for I my selve shall lyke to this decay,

and eek my name bee wypèd out lykewize.

Not so, (quod I) let baser things devize

to dy in dust, but you shall live by fame:

my verse your vertues rare shall eternize,

and in the hevens wryte your glorious name.

Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,

our love shall live, and later life renew.

Out of Character: An Evening of Brecht, Beckett & Hare

Directed by Gemma Alldred
December 2009: York St. John University

We presented an evening of text based work, using three short scenes from three playwrites.

The company split into three groups, and with the assistance of the collaborating theatre students, worked on the performing and staging of:

What, Where by Samuel Beckett

Plenty by David Hare

Baal by Bertolt Brecht

A Nice Cup of Tea – refreshed

Just a little mutual love and back scratch to artist “Darcy Isla” for her lovely feedback on her recent blog about a piece of work I made in 2008 … almost made me think of bringing it back to life.

A girl I met at university, while we were there, created this piece of theatre, centering around the making and drinking of tea in.Britain. It was fantastic. Themes I took from it were: therapy, catharsis, feminism, housewives, facade, honesty, comfort and vulnerability. It made me laugh, cry and ponder. All that from a little cup of tea. But the thing is, that little cup of tea (because she made one for each attendee, which was lots, and laid them all out on the ground) was made just how we wanted it, with such delicacy and careful detail that it became a fascinating and rewarding experience that each of us invested in. Aside from developing a probably lifelong envy for her creative genius, (Why couldn’t I have thought of that?) I took from it a newfound interest in tea – the drink, the social aspect, the history, the geography. I suppose, “How do you take it?” is only as open a question as tea drinking deserves.

You can read the full post and her blog here:

The Distance Travelled – new research blog

So its been coming for a while and finally I have found a little space and time to get it together – a new blog, for a new process, with the aim of a new performance.

So far I have travelled on trains, through time and now on foot…. a travelling auto-ethnographer seems to be a new definition of my working style and process!

So voila …. … see you out there?