Ria Milton
29 Jun, 2023
Not Such Stuff

Hello people of Ignite and the further cultural community of Chelmsford. I have lived in our city for most of my years and having been born in Wales from purely Irish stock (sadly no Scots that I’m aware of) I do feel truly British.

My passion is live theatre and performance, I cannot see enough of it and am privileged to have had the opportunity to coach some fine local young talents to gain places in some prestigious Drama Schools.

In ‘the time before’, I spent many years hanging around Chelmsford Theatre Workshop, a local group run out of our own premises in Springfield Rd, The Old Court Theatre. There I directed an eclectic mix of productions including Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, One Day When I Was Young by Nick Payne, the amateur premier of award winning playwright, Katherine Soper’s Wish List (which, I am delighted to say, she came to see and was very generous about my interpretation), The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell and then just before the first lockdown back to Nick Payne with Constellations.

The theatre went dark days after that colourful production was struck, and I shielded.

Now we are back and our theatre is alive again, though no longer suited to my increasing access requirements as a permanent wheelchair user – so the current Artistic Director James Christie and Theatre Manager Danny Segeth went to town to find me an accessible space to perform in whilst the longer term planning begins on The Old Court.

And what a place they found! Sue Patel and her wonderful staff at The Meadows shopping centre have welcomed us with open arms so that, in collaboration with The Chelmsford Festival, my upcoming production of Not Such Stuff by Chris Wind will take place in their promenade from the 4th-8th July.

Chris Wind is a Canadian academic who wrote this piece, originally as separate soliloquies, to aid her students’ in their character studies of Shakespeare’s heroines. She has released these women from the shackles of a male quill and given them feminist voices, and they don’t hold back.

I have put them in purgatory, atoning for circumstances that were mostly beyond their control and desperate to find sanctuary in Mother.

It has been an emotional journey for us all, many one2one sessions in my home with my husband Bob Lambert, feeding and chauffeuring cast and co-creatives whilst being a general sounding board, culminating in final access to our playing space and making it come alive.

We are thrilled with what we have achieved and hope to see many of you there to enjoy this moment before I move on to the next.

Find out more about Not Such Stuff here.

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