Little Gift Theatre

 


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Little Gift Theatre

Little Gift Theatre Company began its life in the summer of '98.

As Jill Miller recovered from radical surgery for breast cancer in 1993, her creative thoughts were channelled into writing about her experience from diagnosis to mastectomy. A manuscript entitled 'See it as a Little Gift' was the result. For some time, Jill had shared a desire to perform a monologue about breast cancer with friend and colleague, Marina Sossi. The desire became a reality when Jill rekindled her friendship with Gwyn Harwood after an eighteen-year gap. Gwyn had also had breast cancer, and long conversations took place in Gwyn's garden during the summer of '97. Gwyn shared Jill's aspiration to raise awareness of breast cancer through creativity, and so the idea of a duologue was born.

Marina Sossi was approached as a director because of her talent and enthusiasm for live performance. A theatre company was formed with 'Time Bomb' as the end result of a long and close collaboration between three creative women.

'Little Gift' has worked with many diverse audiences, including groups of student nurses and health care professionals at Kings College teaching hospital and at various hospices in the South West and Southern England. Feedback and comments of validation have encouraged the company to develop further this pioneering work.

'Time Bomb' is unique, and the strength of this project is in its complete honesty. The company won acclaim from students and lecturers during a visit to Germany in 2000 and enjoyed a successful tour of Australia in March 2001.

Diary Dates - Performances of 'Time Bomb'

Tuersday 8th October
Hike for Health Performance of 'Time Bomb' at Reading

Tuesday 15th October
Hike for Health Performance of 'Time Bomb' - Royal Marsden Hospital

Wednesday 16 th October
Hike for Health Performance of 'Time Bomb' -
the old operating theatre at St Thomas Church, Southwark.

News

An audience of around fifty, mostly health professionals, gathered in one of the auditoriums of the Royal United Hospital in Bath for the last performance of �Time Bomb� this year. The play and the after show discussion time was a great success.

Organiser Maggie Crow said after the performance, "I knew it was going to be good, but I didn�t expect it to be as brilliant as it was"

�Time Bomb� is a work in progress and the company are working on two more ideas and a song to include for performances next year. Bookings are already being made for next year.

The two performers in �Time Bomb� Gwyn and Harwood and Jill Miller are busy preparing their next fund raising event. They plan to walk from Bath to London next year, using the Kennet and Avon Canal route, with a few well known people meeting up with them at strategic points along the way. (More information about them will be divulged later) The journey will take the duo between 8 and 10 days.

If you want to pledge support or sponsorship you can contact Gwyn and Jill through this website or email them at: littlegifttheatre@yahoo.com

People

Jill Miller is a novelist, who has worked as `Writer in Residence' with various creative projects in women and men's prisons from 1992-2000. Her first novel `Happy as a Dead Cat' published by The Women's Press in 1983 was a landmark book for popular feminism and remains a text for Women's Studies. It was one of a list of a hundred books chosen by Britain's chief librarians to take into the next millennium. (The Independent Wed 8th Dec 1999) As a result of her own breast cancer in 1993, Jill founded PAC Project a free professional counselling service for people affected by breast cancer. `Time Bomb' has fulfilled a lifetime's ambition `to perform'

 

Gwyn Harwood currently works as a peripatetic teacher for Somerset County Council, supporting the children of travelling communities within mainstream schools. Gwyn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and decided to use this life changing experience by helping to form 'Little Gift'. She has found her practical knowledge and wide experiences as a teacher and counsellor invaluable for her part as a theatre company member, a performer and in helping to devise and write `Time Bomb'. Gwyn is married with three daughters and a son and lives in the West Country.

 

Director Marina Sossi has worked with diverse groups and individuals creating original and powerful theatre, using drama and performance as a process for personal growth and expression. As well as developing `Time Bomb' with' Little Gift' she is an accomplished performer; singing 70's group `Studio 54' devising physical theatre with `Big Dog' and as one half of comedy duo Muriel and Marlene. Marina has many years experience facilitating arts projects with men and women in prisons as well as with people with learning difficulties, young people and community theatre.

Time Bomb

" 'Time Bomb' devised by Little Gift Theatre company is a harrowing piece, and it was immediately clear from a delicately choreographed opening scene that each of the two performers had undergone radical surgery.

The starkness of such a revelation was disturbing and the issues springing from it were given many treatments, some poignant, some appalling and some hilarious. Reflections on mortality were juxtaposed with grimly remembered 'consolations': "It's not as if you're young, is it? You don't really need them."

In one bittersweet scene in an anonymous waiting room, a dialogue took place in which everything from family life to the latest sessions in chemo/radio therapy was 'absolutely fine'. Only the changing cadences of this absurd mantra revealed the fear which lay behind it.

The piece was extremely sure-footed. It never once toppled into self-pity or rage, and some of the musical interludes were not only delightful pieces of comic releif, but also powerfully ironic. For what was revealed in this extra-ordinary show was that despite fear and anger, dignity and beauty could still transcend it. Photographs projected on to the set - some uncompromisingly stark, some unbearably poignant - served as two functions. They acted as a powerful commentary and they also blurred the edges between the shaped drama we were watching.

By the end of the piece we, the audience, had been offered two distinct challenges; first to confront our own fears through the courage of two remarkable women and second, to reflect upon the power of their drama to dismantle some of those taboos which still charactise attitudes to cancer."

Review by Rob Moger - Lecturer in English at Frome Community College, Somerset. March 2001.