THE WRITER: SARAH PENROSE + THE STORY
I have spent a lot of years with a scattergun approach to life, doing a bit of this and a bit of that, but always leaning towards my creative side. I worked for BBC Radio Drama, wrote and directed plays, self published a novel, trained and then practised as an Alexander Technique teacher, and wrote marketing materials for small companies, to name a few. Then the unthinkable happened, I became a full time carer for, and then lost, my lovely husband. Life didn’t seem all that appealing for a while, and I decided I needed to find a focus, to try to rekindle my enthusiasm. So I am now half way through an MA in Writing for Performance and Publication at Leeds University.
Wading through the swirling gravy of grief, I started off trying to write very serious and worthy pieces, only to be told that they were funny. It seemed the more serious I thought I was being, the more people were finding amusing in the things my characters were saying. So I have come to the conclusion that embracing the comedy in life is no bad thing, and hence my contribution to Tribute.
I had the idea during an argument with my neighbour, who can be very awkward. At the same time, many of my friends were experiencing awful problems with their neighbours. There was the woman who was obsessive about where other people parked their cars, the man who couldn’t bear for anyone else to build anything, reporting everyone around him to the planners, even though he happily went round building all sorts without any sorts of permissions, and the woman who helped herself to other people’s gardens, manicuring them neatly like a municipal park, whether or not the garden’s owner liked it that way. The stress that went along with these disputes as they escalated brought with it awful misery. Knowing where I had been emotionally in the last couple of years, I could well imagine how a neighbour of such awfulness as the Tricia of my piece could impact upon the emotional wellbeing of all around her, especially if the setting was a small row of terraces cut off from the outside world. So this was the starting point for my piece – a woman trying very hard not to show her relief at the passing of her awful neighbour. I hope you enjoy it.
THE ACTOR – SARAH THOM
Sarah works regularly on Radio 4, including playing the regular character, Joan, in the long-running comedy, Clare in the Community. She’s also worked on The Archers and many other plays and comedies, including: When Ali Came to Abingdon, The Riot Girls – Susan & Emma, Pilgrim, The Loving Ballad of Captain Bateman, In and Out of the Kitchen, The Cazalets, We Are Mermaid, Diary of a Joskin, Animal Farm, Hester, Little Grudges and Rudy’s Rare Records. In 2012 Sarah won the BBC Radio Drama Norman Beaton Fellowship.
Her theatre work includes: Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain (St James Theatre, Assembly & UK Tour), Ragnarok (Eastern Angles), A Taste of Honey & The Adventures of the Stonehads (National Theatre), Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (Kings Head), Bandages (UK Tour), Thatcher: The Musical! (UK Tour) and the role of Dido in Dido Queen of Carthage (Kensington Palace). She has worked extensively with Trestle, Foursight and Kaos, and performed with many companies including Birmingham Rep, Platform 4 and the RSC. Sarah is co-founder of site-specific Angels in the Architecture and from 2007-2012 was Co-Artistic Director of Foursight Theatre. She originally trained with Jacques Lecoq in Paris.
TV includes: Taboo, Not Going Out, Doctors and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (all for the BBC) and Home Fires (ITV).