I interviewed theatre producer Matthew Schmolle, who specialises in producing and staging co-created community performance, new writing, street theatre and agitprop. Matthew has put on shows for his own companies The Working Party and Matthew Schmolle Productions as well as producing projects for The Old Vic, Old Vic New Voices, ice&fire, The Big House, Blackboard Theatre, The Spectators Guild, Finborough, Park Theatre, Tobacco Factory Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Emergency Exit Arts and Apples and Snakes. He also works as a consultant for the charity Open Door, who are fighting to level the playing field in access to training in theatre arts, and for theatre company Not Too Tame. Continue reading MATTHEW SCHMOLLE: CHANGING THE WORLD THROUGH THEATRE
I interviewed radical actor, playwright and director Polly Wiseman about her work with her company Fireraisers that produces ‘extraordinary theatre in unexpected places’. Polly uses equal numbers of female and male actors, with the women playing central roles, and often stages her plays in the ‘real world’ at venues suited to the subject matter – for instance in bars, galleries and cinemas. Polly’s work is also multi-media and cross-genre involving live music and choirs, film, sculpture, verbatim accounts and direct audience address.
Leslie: What first led you to choose a career in theatre? How did it begin, grow and develop? Continue reading EXTRAORDINARY THEATRE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES
I interviewed radical author Sue Hampton, about her new collection of short stories, Instead. With titles for adults and children, Sue is a prolific storyteller. Instead is her third collection. It follows Ravelled and Woken, making a total of 29 short stories Sue has brought out with TSL Publications.
Leslie: Firstly, a declaration of interest, as I’m interviewing my wife! Having said that, can I ask you, Sue, what’s the attraction of the short form? Continue reading THE ART OF SHORT STORIES
I interviewed Helen Meissner, who runs Folkstock Records: ‘A joyous fusion of contemporary and traditional acoustic folk and roots music’. With her daughter Lauren, Helen has championed female musicians and self-funded many mainstream opportunities for emerging artists. Folkstock Records, which began as a result of Helen’s recovery from cancer, has featured in many national newspapers and radio shows. As a former Businesswoman of the Year for Herts, Helen ‘gives back’ energetically to all her remarkable acts. Continue reading HELEN MEISSNER: GIVING BACK & FOLKSTOCK RECORDS
I interviewed campaigning busker Zoe Wren, whose latest EP Gold and Smoke, released on Folkstock Records, retells traditional folk stories in a contemporary way. I asked Zoe, who was shortlisted for Best Female Solo at the NMG Awards, about the reality of licensed busking. I also asked Zoe about her musical career that includes winning the PRS Lynsey de Paul Award, being named Laurel Canyon UK‘s Favourite New Artist of 2018, and opening for acts such as Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention and Ralph McTell at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Continue reading BUSKING, RECORDING AND WINNING PRIZES… ZOE WREN
I interviewed Fiona Miller, the new CEO of Watford Women’s Centre, about its history, what happens at the centre and the upcoming celebrations of the centre’s 30th anniversary.
Leslie: When did the centre start and what have been the main developments since then?
Fiona: Watford Women’s Centre (WWC) was set up in 1989 by a radical feminist consciousness-raising group who were part of the feminist peace movement at the time that had links to the longest feminist protest in British history: Greenham Common. Their political activity in the community was focused on women’s rights and particularly women who were victims of sexual and physical abuse as an outcome of patriarchal power relations. They set out to ensure that women’s concerns and voices were heard in local decision-making, and campaigned to establish the first ever Women’s Centre in Watford. Continue reading WATFORD WOMEN’S CENTRE – A SAFE SPACE FOR 30 YEARS!
I interviewed long-distance cyclist, Anna Hughes, about her rides across the UK and Europe, her books, her veganism, living on a houseboat and her organising role in ‘Flight Free UK‘. Anna is a passionate environmentalist who campaigns for climate change awareness, and promotes an active, outdoor lifestyle.
Leslie: Tell us about your books. What have been the difficulties and the rewards of cycling for you?
Anna: My first book, ‘Eat Sleep Cycle’, is about my ten-week bike ride around the coast of Britain. It was an adventure I did back in 2011, and it was my first big bike ride. Even though I’ve been a cyclist my whole life, that was the first time I packed up my bags and set off on a proper adventure. It was a life-changing experience and really opened lots of doors afterwards; I would never have become an author without it, and I am fortunate enough to be offered sponsorship and events from time to time as a result. The adventure had it all – the most amazing scenery I had ever had the pleasure of seeing; battles with terrain and weather of course; self-discovery; massively improved fitness; aches and pains and sores! Continue reading ANNA HUGHES – CYCLING AND THE OUTDOOR LIFE
I interviewed author and art blogger Katy Whim about her distinctive personal world that includes M.E., art, surrealism, anthropology, Dada, magical realism, spirituality, politics, environmentalism and meditative musings.
Leslie: How did your early life foreshadow and develop the wide range of creative/political/social interests you have today? Continue reading KATY WHIM – RADICAL ART, MAGIC REALISM and M.E.