An Interview with Liz Richardson
Hello, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m originally from Cumbria but now live in the Peak District, having moved from London a couple of years ago.
When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?
There wasn’t an awful lot of access to the Arts on offer when growing up on the West Coast of Cumbria, so when my school teacher told my parents “I think she could be more than a clown in just the classroom” I joined the local Am Dram group and before you know it, I’m 17 and driving down to London with my Dad to audition at East 15 Acting School…the rest is history.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
A lack of elitism. An all-inclusive piece of art which can also be inspirational – I love to feel moved when I leave the theatre, both in an emotional sense but also from having been educated or taken on an unexpected journey. But then I also love to laugh – providing moments of relief where the audience can laugh out loud is a gift.
What do you like to do when you’re not being theatrical?
I love to be walking and running in the fells, mostly with my young daughter and dog. As much as I loved my 15 years in London and all it has to offer, the pull of the mountains (like where I grew up) brought me to the change of lifestyle and also allowed me to start a family.
What can you tell us about your role running the ‘Mothers Who Make’ group at Home?
Mothers Who Make is a wonderful outlet for mums who have, at some point, taken time out to have children but still want to be around those who, like them, are creators in the Arts. The sessions (which originate from London-based Matilda Leyser of Improbable Theatre) bring together such a huge range of talented mothers who, not only continue to grow their skills and build their careers within the industry but also grow and nurture our next generation. I co-facilitate these sessions with another actress/theatre maker and each month we are blown away by the incredible women we meet, their stories and their work. It can be an incredibly lonely time being self-employed and raising children and you can often feel like you’ve lost the essence of ‘you’ on the way, but Mothers Who Make allows you to share these experiences and often encourages you to keep ‘making’ and keep talking in order to achieve all that you want to. Being a parent is the most important job in the world and this is something that I think is still not recognised enough for there needing to be more support, especially in the arts.
You will be bringing Gutted to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?
Gutted is a one-woman show about my life since being diagnosed in my early 20s with Ulcerative Colitis (an Inflammatory Bowel Disease). It takes the audience on a journey from partying hard, boyfriends and denial to building relationships with hospital patients and medical staff and my surrounding family. There are moments of tears and moments of laughter, free cake and beer and I leave my dignity at the door!
Do you find comedy develops well from adversity?
Yes absolutely- quite often this is when comedy is at its best. If you allow an audience to laugh at your expense, if you tell them how it was or is but allow them to see that it’s ok or can be, then you will have a much more receptive audience. Setting it up so you give permission to the audience to laugh rather than stifle the joy in the scenario, I think, warms them up to a lovely room temperature level…and then you can come crashing down on them with some terrible scene of tragedy where they’re left weeping.
In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August.
It’s like eating chocolate digestives- at first you’re looking forward to it, then after the first indulging moments you start to regret starting but then you think a little more won’t harm you, and then you think what the hell am I doing and before you know it you’ve finished the lot and swear you won’t put yourself through that again, despite the highs. The next day you go to the shops and then do it all over again.
What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Eating. I can never eat before a show, I feel sick and anxious with nerves, and then quite often I forget to eat after a show as I’m usually propping up the bar. Sleeping too, although I’m hoping I can do a bit of that whilst I am off child minding duty. In-between eating and sleeping I’ll also be continuing work on my next piece of theatre making which I am starting to develop at the moment.