On production DIRTY LAUNDRY we are working with a community company for the first time. This group of intrepid folk are helping us to create a living installation evoking Stoke-on-Trent in the 1950s, through which the audience will pass on the way to the performance space at Spode Works.

It’s a new thing for us, and we’re finding out how to do it by simply doing it.

Fortunately our community company are a very game bunch, and Thérèse Dimelow has agreed to write a little blog for us each week. Here are her reflections on the process so far.

Thérèse in character during our pre-show promenade, as Mrs Ponsonby – the secretary at Warham’s Pottery.

Thérèse writes:

28th October 2017

Here is the last blog and testament of the ‘Dirty Laundry’, now squeaky clean! What a fabulous two weeks we have been enveloped in! What fun we have had! What lovely, interesting, kind, gentle people we have associated with. It has been such a joy and a success. A sell out of tickets! Really good reviews. Also a help towards the Culture thingy.

Congratulations Debbie and Conrad, and thank you again for having the foresight, initiative, and courage to produce and perform such a believable and interesting story. Especially to include us Potherbs. I wonder what might be forthcoming in the future? We shall have to wait and see.

In the meantime lucrative wishes to Rosie, Angie, Phil, Robin and Jason. Farewell, God bless, keep safe.

Love and kisses to all.

Thérèse xxxxx

(alias Mrs Ponsonby)

17th October 2017   The day of the visit from the City of Culture Judges!

Saturday endeth the first week of the Play and what a week it was.  I can honestly say that I have never experienced a week quite like it, in my life before.

It’s been such fun and a delight to mix with all of you and share our experiences together.  Not to mention the professional members of our group. Both actors, technicians, stage staff, Our lovely calm Author, The Invincible Husband/Director. Even the shoulder child carrier.  All kind, helpful, gentle, people.  Always on hand to put one at ease.

I think we may all now have been able to see the whole play intact. Having seen only the beginning and the end originally.  Now we are in possession of the full facts and can appreciate the cleverness and subtleties of the script.

We also had several tastes of Audience in all their Stokee glory (well that’s what it is all about, after all)  Now, tonight, begineth week two!  I have heard that Radio Stoke had some interesting persons broadcasting this morning.  I wonder, if we will see/meet them later…

11th October 2017

Wasn’t it interesting, working in the actual factory of  “Spode”, for the first time on Saturday.  Weren’t we cared for and cosseted in the cosy “warm room” with chairs to rest weary legs and the “Pot Bank” for sustenance etc…
I am fortunate that I am not obliged to venture outside but I was very proud of you that do. That includes all the technical staff and of course Debbie and Conrad. 
Having said that, I was in and out most of the time,  Watching all that was occurring in front of me, people reacting to different circumstances, noises, movements of props all leading to the main event.  The wonderful cacophony of sound, and our lot concentrating on the precious moment of their personal prompt. 
Monday came with more. The three children had arrived with Vicky and what brilliant addition they are to the group.  (After all children would be there in real life and they are so often excluded in drama.)  What surprised me was, the cast were now in costume, having taken on each character completely. It was hard to differentiate who was who! 
But most importantly, it was now night and dark.  I could feel the atmospheric tingle of not knowing what was to come.  I went home excited, relaxed and happy. 
Last night, Tuesday. Dress Rehearsal, went well and again the atmosphere was thrilling. The lighting ghostly, the sounds entrancing.  The walk that Daisy does is so clever.   To introduce the audience, to what I feel is quite unique.  For the first time we were allowed to complete the walk into the Audotorium. 
The Audience will then be in the palms of Debbie’s and Conrad’s hands, waiting and wanting to absorb all that is there.   
See you all tonight, Break a leg, God bless

30th September 2017

Didn’t we have fun last Saturday?  I love the clapping and the concentration it takes to manage to get to the end in unison.
I’ve tried to explain Zip, Zap Splat,Boyng to my husband, but he seems to not have the temporary decendence into insanity required. 
After coffee we got down to business, separated into our little groups of two or three and proceeded to build a history to our characters.  This entailed quite a lot of unrehearsed frivolity while choosing names, relationships and consequences etc.  But I think we all were amazed at the results.  Mr Warham, Daisy Gooodwin and Mrs Agnes Ponsomby were anyway.  
We then packed up our little workshop and proceeded bravely through rain and traffic (stupid footy again) to the calm of Eleanora Street and the magnificence to come, of “The Spode Factory”.  Conrad took us on a tour, pointing out significant areas of where the drama will take place. 
It was interesting and enlightening to see where, and imagine how, the story will unfold.  We had a group photo taken but alas, it wasn’t my best side!
See you Saturday Darlings

23rd September 2017

I arrived early on Saturday and sat quietly Cappuccino in hand in Emma Bridgwater’s snug, comfy, cafe.  Every one arrived quite promptly and I was interested to note some new faces.  We met as before in the Meakin room and commenced the rehearsal with some interesting movements and interpretations of “the Jive” circa 1953. 
Fortunately, I partnered one of the lead actors of the play – Angie, who is Frances Berry in the production.  She is an unassuming, friendly, little, lady.  Chatty, gentle, attractive and easy to talk to/dance with.  We were short of the Male gender (which always happened at the Youth Club) so I was “The boy”.  I think we danced quite well; she, quick to learn and with great rhythm;  I, taking great care not to cause any mishap to her person (it would be so embarrassing to have to take over the part at short notice!!)  He! He!   
After a short break, we sat down as our director Conrad, introduced us to the actors and their characters.   We were encouraged to ask questions about how they perceived their characters and in this way we, in turn, learned more about the actual play and the people playing the parts. It must have been very difficult for them as they had no warning that this was about to happen, and had to think “on their feet”. 
I found this all very intriguing and suspect it was for all of us as time sped by.  We finished the session, learning the geography of the setting and our participating parts. 

16th September 2017

I must admit that being a quiet, shy, little mouse-like creature I was feeling a little apprehensive and also curious as I trotted into the courtyard of Emma Bridgewater’s Pottery Shop last Saturday morning. But being of mature years and with a mental age of sixteen, I felt well prepared.   

What a lovely warm, relaxed welcome we received from Debbie and Conrad.  I felt I’d known them for years instead of one quite brief meeting just one month ago.  It was a cold morning and getting us playing games to cause interaction with each other (while saving on heating) was an unexpected surprise and fun.  I really enjoyed the clapping to rhythm and wonder where it originated.  In my humble opinion very cleverly thought out.  If we’d had a couple of castanets and some steel drums we could have made a day of it!   I wasn’t so sure about the ball and stail though.  They really tested my balance, co-ordination, agility, sense of distance, eyesight etc.  Perhaps we might invent a new sport for the Olympics – Stail Vaulting Uproarious.

Seriously, I was so interested in the small portion of script that was shared with us, I wanted more.  I could have happily stayed all afternoon.  How innovative to set the play in a “Pot Bank”.  

The Audience are going to be amazed and intrigued to experience something so very different from the norm.  I’m looking forward to learning more, and seeing you all next Saturday.

Finally, may I say a Great Big Thankyou to you, Debbie, Conrad, Matt, and all the company for inviting and including (a tiny bit of me) in your “Dirty Laundry”


Here are the team, getting to know one another last week…