Bespoken Theatre Company

"A Multi-Sensory Delight!"

The Femme Fatale

"Illuminating"

A trilogy of plays exploring mental health, media, and the judicial system Beginning Autumn 2020.

News


Bespoken receive Special Purpose Award

"I can shake off everything as I write; My sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."- Anne Frank

Learn More

Getting through this difficult time. Spring 2020

"The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers."- Juliette Gordon Low

Learn More

Senses And Sensitivity at Cleeve Meadow School March 2020

"Not the senses that I have but what I do with them is my kingdom" -Helen Keller

Learn More

From Strength To Strength With Kew Gardens Feb-Mar 2020

"(I will) try to learn from the lovely world which surrounded me" -Marianne North

Learn More

Drama workshop with Autistic Inclusive Meets. Feb 2020

“Being different is a gift, It makes me see things from outside the box." Greta Thunberg

Learn More

Castles, Conflict And Change at Cleeve Meadow School. Jan 2020

“Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories.” ― Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Learn More

New Year at Kew! Sunday Stories return.

("On a sunset:) I cannot speak or move. I am drunk with beauty!" Marianne North (1830-1890)

Learn More

Christmas show 2019!

"His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him." Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Learn More

Waiting For ????????

“Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.” ― Samuel Beckett

Learn More

14/11/19 A visit from Claude Monet

"Creativity is contagious, pass it on." Albert Einstein

Learn More

02/11/19 Bespoken welcomes its first Patron Rebecca Prichard

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." Maya Angelou

Learn More

Projects with MAMA QUILLA 01/11/19

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller

Learn More

17/10/19 For The Love Of Trees performance and workshop

"Embrace the trees and Save them from being felled; The property of our hills, Save them from being looted." Sunderlal Bahuguna

Learn More

A most peculiar love story! AUTUMN AT KEW!

"Tis Vegetation’s Juggler - The Germ of Alibi ." - Emily Dickinson

Learn More

SUMMER AT KEW! What Makes Plants grow?

"Ring all the bells sing and tell the people everywhere that the flower has come." Minnie Riperton

Learn More

17/07/19 Theatre in Residence at Bethlem Hospital.

"The arts are not just a nice thing to have- they define who we are." Michelle Obama

Learn More

Transformation Storytelling and Workshop at The Bethlem Hospital. 12/06/19

"Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things." Lao Tzu

Learn More

Masterclass with Punchdrunk Theatre June 2019

"These things are mysterys not to be explained But you will understand when you get there alone..." Punchdrunk

Learn More

Easter storytelling at the Botanic Gardens of Kew. New for 2019

“Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot chocolate. I always find that cheers me up.” — Albus Dumbledore

Learn More

03/04/19 Launch of Persephone and the Pomegranate.

"Give me but one firm spot on which to stand on and I will move the Earth." Archimedes.

Learn More

About us




"The Theatre was created to tell the truth about life and the social situation."- Stella Adler Theatre Director

We are a recently formed Community Interest Theatre company, working with young people and adults. Our practice is rooted in the traditional aspects of theatre making and story telling. Our backgrounds are a unique combination of performance, teaching and facilitating in mental health.
 We are the resident theatre company at The Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and are developing projects in other specialist settings.

Meeting at Exeter University in 1990 to study Drama, we were influenced by theatre companies producing physical storytelling such as; Knee High, Trestle, Punchdrunk, Complicite,Told By An Idiot. Clean Break and Improbable theatre.

We performed a number of times at the Edinburgh Festival. Initially working on a little known play by Sabrina Alonso called Women In Technicolor. Gentle though shocking, the play exposed some of the corrupt and degrading strategies used by Hollywood to exploit young actors in the 1940's.

Written 25 years before the exposure of Harvey Weinstein and the emerging MeToo campaign, Alonso's play was a timely warning. Working as female actors in the early 90's, the theme of being 'frustrated in our time' led to us exploring constructs around  gender and expectation. We often found ourselves loving a play so much that we ended up playing male roles which seemed aplenty and more interesting to perform and explore.

Still the world was not quite ready for girls playing Hamlet just yet!

Having gone our separate ways in the industry after graduating, we have reunited as Bespoken Theatre Company.
A female led company combining a fresh and unique take on storytelling, performance, mental health and resilience, biodiversity and inclusion.

We perform and work with all ages. And we create each performance and workshop to suit each individual group that we work with..

We write and perform material that has a contemporary take on historical events, discovering interesting female roles aplenty!

We want to share and celebrate stories that have not been heard before. Exploring people's lives past and present, giving voice to those who were and still are denied an opportunity to speak.

"Pitch Perfect"

About us About us

Mental Health Matters


Mental Health Matters Mental Health Matters
"Children in urban communities suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome in higher proportions than veterans, and they need therapeutic outlets, which arts and drama has proven to provide." -Aja Brown Politician.

Our commitment to Mental Health.

Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health.

Like physical health our mental state can be affected by change, stress, life events and loss at any time.

We believe the arts are vital for emotional wellbeing, social connection and learning.

As a theatre company we hope to break down the stigmas and assumptions about mental health and mental illness.

We want to educate, inform and create discussion by looking at ideas around mental health and mental health resiliance. Exploring themes through performance and workshops.

We are developing an ongoing project on women and mental health. Through performance we can give voice to women's stories and experience.

We respect the fact that the stories we sometimes tell are not Bespoken's but belong to those who choose to share them.
We respectfully acknowledge those whose voices have been silenced, and we will do our best to honour their story.

We aim to bring drama and performance of a high standard to those in all settings, including hospital, community groups and other specialist provisions, for those who are experiencing obstacles in their life and cannot access the joy of theatre in a usual setting.

Some of our story projects with young people are linked to science and nature; using a multi-sensory engagement with the experience of biodiversity and encouraging a meaniful and caring relationship between ourselves and the natural world.

We aspire to develop inclusive projects that motivate and stimulate individuals of all abilities and backgrounds, acknowledging the strength of working together in diversity.

We continue to learn from the young people and adults we work with.

We remain inspired.

Plays


Our plays for adults delve into the darker elements of Herstory. We explore unknown tales that are based on fact or folklore. Our aim is to shine a light on women's voices unheard past and present. To give a fresh and open perspective on what it is to be female, cast in a time confined by  expectations of gender, class, race, status and social behaviour.


We are currently creating a trilogy of scripted plays that explore women, mental health, crime and media exploitation. Beginning with Ordinary, based on the true story of Helen Duncan a popular medium in the 1940's, eventually imprisoned in Holloway prison for her beliefs and practice. We have teamed up with the Old Operating Theatre in London and will be performing  Ordinary in November 2020. We will update details and booking information nearer the time.                     





Read More


Childhood is a constant source of inspiration to us.

A time when the imagination is developing and the first stories we hear influence and shape our responses to the world. 

We explore themes of childhood through myths, fairy tales and history.

We also create and devise plays and scripts with young people showing us how they see the world and the changes they want.

We work closely within education and other specialist settings delivering storytelling workshops to support the national curriculum.

Some of our story projects are linked to science and nature; using a sensory engagement with the experience of biodiversity and encouraging a meaningful relationship with the natural world.

All our sessions are followed by a celebration with food and music, and an arts and crafts session. 





Read More

Patrons of Bespoken Theatre


Rebecca Prichard

Patron

Playwright Rebecca Prichard's first work, Essex Girls, was performed at The Royal Court Young Writers’ Festival in 1994. Fair Game, her adaptation of Edna Mazya’s Games in The Backyard opened at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs in 1996 and her play Yard Gal (co-commissioned by Clean Break Theatre Company and Royal Court) was staged at the Royal Court Theatre, followed by a national tour. In 2013 Yard Gal was named one of the most influential plays in contemporary British Theatre (V&A, Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays). Her other works include: The Slow Death of Ecstasy(comm. Royal Court 1995); An East Side Story (comm. Out of Joint 2000); Delir’ium(Royal Court 2003); Futures (Theatre503 2005); Porn Etc (comm. University of Essex 2008); Carnevale (comm. Royal Shakespeare Company 2010); Dream Pill(Clean Break 2010, touring through 2015); Parallax (Almeida 2012); Congo Boy(comm. National Theatre 2014); Covfefe (comm. VCA, University of Melbourne 2017) and she is currently under commission to the Royal Court Theatre. Her short play Bury Her (2019) was recently performed at Queer Upstairs at The Royal Court, an event marking fifty years since the Stonewall Riots. Her work has been produced in Europe and the United States and she has written for radio (Something Blue, The Good Doctor) and television (Butterfly World, Channel Four Jumpcuts). Awards and residencies include: Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright (1998); Writer-in-Residence, Royal Court Theatre (1999-2000); Literary Associate, Hampstead Theatre (2004-2005); AHRC Creative Fellowship (2007-2010); Yale University Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Centre for Modern Day Slavery (2014-2015); International Research Scholar, University of Melbourne (2015-2019)

Read More

Eugenie Douglas

Patron

Eugenie is a Therapeutic Social Worker and Child and Family Mental Health Specialist, working within many communities across London. Eugenie is a respected and established community figure, well known to families and staff working within Education, Clinical settings, GP Surgeries and Voluntary Organisations. Eugenie is passionate about the importance of creativity within mental health and has facilitated the development of creative play skills through parent and child interaction and attachment. She has also provided mental health training and consultation in the community for groups and has developed workshops around Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health resiliance and self regulation. Eugenie is a strong advocate for groups that are at a social or economic disadvantage and she also consults with public services and other organisations on structured inequalities, enabling changes towards accessing supportive and inclusive services for all. We are truly delighted to welcome Eugenie to the Bespoken family. We feel that her expertise and knowledge will enable us to shape inclusive theatre and performance for everyone. Supporting us in our hope to promote the importance of the arts within mental health and the community.

Lee Simpson

Patron

Lee Simpson, writer and performer is also the Artistic Director of Improbable Theatre. Lee is also well known and loved for being a member of The Comedy Store Players. Bespoken Theatre have been huge fans of Improbable Theatre for many years and are delighted to have Lee Simpson as a patron for the company. Lee explores social attitudes to disability, mental health and aging amongst other issues through theatre, comedy and improvisation. He recently directed the show Still No Idea for The Royal Court with Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence which explores attitudes towards disability and inclusion. Lee collaborated with Paul Merton on the comedy show Out Of My Head which dealt with issues around mental health. In 2017 Lee directed Lost Without Words for The National Theatre with Phelim Mcdermott. An improvised show with older actors in their 70's and 80's using just props, no script but their own words. Lee is also a dedicated pioneer in the art and skill of improvisation and also teaches and delivers workshops with performers and artists. He has also facilitated story telling and drama workshops for the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital school.

Team


Cherie Pruden SRAT Dramatherapy Drama B.A Hons

Artistic Director Writer and Performer

Cherie studied at Exeter and Sussex Universities. She is a Theatre Specialist, working in mental health including Child and Adolescent Mental Health services and Neuro Developmental teams within education and the community for over 25 years. In 2017, she was given a Teaching Excellence award by the Lord Mayor of Southwark for her work with vulnerable young people. Cherie has worked as a performer with Random Acts Improvisation Company, Theatr Clywd and Leap Theatre in Education. Cherie received mentorship from Chris Bush at The National Theatre working with script development and story.

Abigail Halley Drama B.A.Hons

Artistic Director Writer and Performer

Abi studied at Exeter University and Italia Conti. She has worked as an actor, improviser, storyteller and voiceover artist for 25 years. She is also highly experienced in teaching, workshop leading and live interpretation bringing many historical characters to life in museums, galleries and educational settings. Abi works closely with Kew Gardens developing children's awareness of biodiversity and natural world protection through immersive storytelling. Abi has just written her first novel and is about to embark on a second.

Gregory A. Smith

Performer and Writer

Gregory trained through Lee Strasberg Method in Los Angeles, California. Gregory has worked with companies including Spin Cycle Theatre N16. King’s Head Theatre and Minack Theatre. He has toured extensively in France with Quorum Theatre company with plays by Philip Ayckbourn. Gregory has appeared in several award winning short films, and television drama's for Stephen Poliakoff. Gregory is also a painter in oils and pastels and author of “My Signature Dish” “A Founding Mother” the play Lili (in the Guesthouse Window), as well as a collection of poetry, “As It Was Then.” Gregory is also a fluent speaker in Italian and French.

Sandra Mills

Performer

Sandra studied at the University of Ulster and Desmond Jones School of Physical Theatre and has worked as a performer in UK and abroad. She studied an MA in Theatre and International Development after which she spent time in India with Jana Sanskriti using theatre to work with tribes exploring issues affecting their communities. Her case study was published in the journal Development in Practice. She led Bridge intercultural arts programme at Chichester Festival Theatre. She recently performed with Amnesty about the experiences of Afghan women and has also devised and performed with Random Acts Theatre

Reviews and Testimonials


Jenni Tyler-Maher:Executive Head Teacher Cleeve Meadow School

"We can’t wait for our next visit from Bespoken Theatre Company. Truly interactive and inclusive, engaging some of our most hard to reach young people. Thank you for putting smiles on their faces and giving them the confidence to use their voices."

Jenni Tyler-Maher

Emma Dalmayne:Autistic rights campaigner and author

"Thank you to Bespoken Theatre for their wonderful visit today! The AIM attendees had a brilliant time, highly interactive and promoting team work."

Emma Dalmayne

Petra Woodford Headteacher Primary and Middle Department:Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School

Our primary /middle department at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School was recently lucky enough to have a visit from the Bespoken Theatre Company. We invited the company to provide a session as an ending to our project on the Greek myths. It proved to be a glorious conclusion to a very successful exploration of these great stories: it was truly memorable. Abi from Bespoken came for the whole morning and provided a multisensory exploration of the myth of Persephone and how the seasons were formed. Not always an easy group, Abi was still able to engage all the pupils putting them at their ease and building up participation gradually in a gentle, non-threatening way. The story was told with clarity and beauty but what made it unusual was the cross-curriculum reach. After the story there was Greek food to sample as well as Greek music and locating the country geographically. We then had a paper flower workshop which the pupils enjoyed as the tasks were achievable and the outcomes, in terms of end product, were delightful. I would recommend Bespoken Theatre Company unequivocally and we have a second workshop in our diary for next half term. Again, the session has been bespoke for us and fits in with our new topic of transformation. Chocolate tasting will be included and a design task incorporated into the morning. It sounds like a recipe for another stimulating morning and we are very much looking forward to it. Thankyou Bespoken from all of us.

Petra Woodford Headteacher Primary and Middle Department

Paul Harris:Specialist Teacher Bethlem Hospital School

"The story of chocolate was a fabulous workshop of two parts. Starting with Cocoa butter hand cream and Willy Wonka singing a world of imagination wonderful the story telling started. We moved into our very own rain forest to meet the Mayans and Aztecs through to the conquistadors and then into Europe and Pepys's London and the chocolate houses of the 17th century. With kinaesthetic chocolate factories and questions to keep the engagement we ended with tasting the 'bitter water' and then the ever sweeter samples of chocolate the sensory backdrop continued as we were moved into some lovely design work of our own wrappers in part 2. We made some lovely design work with chances to think about the language of bar names and discussions around prices and flavours as we worked. Pitch perfect."

Paul Harris

ThreeWeeks Edinburgh:Mr Thomas By Kathy Burke

"The most striking aspect of this tale of the underside of life in a London boarding house is that the four male characters are played by woman and the one female character is played by a man. "This has the effect of making us consider the kind of behaviour and conversation that, in certain circles, define gender: the men swagger, swear and swap sexist remarks, and the woman gently gives way to them, while actually being the strongest of them all. The performers imitate the manners and the mannerisms of members of the opposite sex most effectively. An entertaining and quite illuminating piece."

ThreeWeeks Edinburgh

Thom Dibdin The List:Mr Thomas By Kathy Burke

"The young company twists Kathy Burke's play by having women play the male roles and a man the female. This neatly perturbs the audience's expectations about male bonding, focusing attention on the way men do - and don't - touch each other. This is an attractive and questioning production."

Thom Dibdin The List

Philip Parr The Stage:Women In Technicolor By Sabrina Alonso

"Witty and moving. Women In Technicolor is a thought-provoking piece of theatre. The performances of Abigail Halley and especially Cherie Pruden in the dual role of Cathy and Marlene Dietrich are excellent."

Philip Parr The Stage

we can provide


Work with Specialist groups

Learn More

Workshops and Training

Learn More

What do you need?

Learn More

Funding

Learn More

SAFEGUARDING POLICIES


SAFEGUARDING POLICIES SAFEGUARDING POLICIES
Child Protection and  Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Policy

Bespoken theatre acknowledges its duty to act appropriately to any allegations, reports or suspicions of abuse. Its staff will endeavor to work together to encourage the development of an ethos that embraces difference and diversity and respects the rights of all children, young people and adults.


Safeguarding Children and Young People
Bespoken Theatre will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in our workshops through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines. A child is defined as under 18 The Children Act 1989.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults.
We also acknowledge our responsibilities in respect of adult participants who might be deemed to be ‘at risk’ because they are ‘vulnerable’. A vulnerable person may be identified as a person aged 18 or over who has a condition of the following type: (i) a substantial learning or physical disability; (ii) a physical or mental illness or mental disorder, chronic or otherwise, including an addiction to alcohol or drugs; or (iii) a significant reduction in physical or mental capacity.


Policy Aims Of Bespoken Theatre

• Provide children and young people and vulnerable adults with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of Bespoken theatre

• Allow all staff to make informed and confident responses to specific child and vulnerable adult protection issues

update knowledge and training of safeguarding issues.

consult with professionals who are experienced and qualified in safeguarding for supervision and guidance.


Bespoken Theatre believe that

• The welfare of children and vulnerable adults are vital and that safety and welfare come first in all instances.

• All children, and vulnerable adults whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse

• All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately

• All staff including teachers, care staff assistants and volunteers working for and alongside Bespoken Theatre have a responsibility to report concerns to the identified staff responsible for safeguarding.

Bespoken Theatre has a duty of care to safeguard all children and vulnerable adults involved in our workshops from harm.

All children have a right to protection and the needs of disabled children and others including adults who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account.


Bespoken Theatre will adhere too

• Always work in an open environment with and alongside support staff from the school/institution/community group (e.g. avoid private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment i.e. no secrets)

• Treating all young people/disabled adults equally, and with respect and dignity.

• Always putting the welfare of each young person/disabled adult first, before winning or achieving goals.

• Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with all participants (e.g. it is not appropriate to have an intimate relationship with a child or vulnerable adult)

• Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children/vulnerable adults to share in the decision-making process.

• Making performing fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.

Ensuring that all material (i.e scripts /scene content) is age/ability appropriate and never makes a child/vulnerable adult feel uncomfortable or concerned or exploited.

• Keeping up to date with the skills, qualifications and insurance in performing arts, safeguarding policies, diversity and mental health training.

• Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people, vulnerable adult. Always aiming to speak in a positive manner and remembering that building confidence and ensuring the child/vulnerable adult is having a positive experience is always the main aim.

• Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism

Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given in an accident report book that is property of the school/institution/community group.

Informing school/community group staff if any child/vulnerable adult is taken ill or injured during workshops, communicating with parents/carers if relevant and necessary

Never offering or allowing children/vulnerable adult to be transported home in cars or to events through staff employed by Bespoken.


The following practice is never acceptable from Bespoken Theatre 

Encouraging rough, physical or sexually provocative games

• Allowing, engaging in any form of inappropriate touching

. Encourage violent or intimidating behavior (Towards self or others or environment)

• Allow children/vulnerable adult to use inappropriate language unchallenged

• Make sexually suggestive comments to a child/vulnerable adult

• Reduce a child/vulnerable adult to tears as a form of control

• Allow allegations made by a child/vulnerable adult to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon

• Do things of a personal nature for children/vulnerable adult that they can do for themselves

Guidelines for use of photographic filming

Bespoken Theatre does not allow any filming or photographing to take place UNLESS;
We/or the school/institution/community group have signed consent in advance from parents/carers or those in position of guidance and responsibility working with a vulnerable adult. (If they are unable to do so themselves.)

We ask all participants to put mobile phones away in bags, completely out of sight before starting any workshops

Bespoken staff may use technology for playing music in sessions or performances only

Recruitment and selecting staff

The company recognizes that anyone may have the potential to abuse children/vulnerable adults in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that unsuitable people are prevented from working with children and vulnerable adults.
All staff employed by Bespoken Theatre have full records consistent and in accordance with the Criminal Records Bureau (DBS CHECK) Including evidence of identity (passport or driving licence with photo)


Responding to suspicions or allegations

It is not the responsibility of anyone working at Bespoken Theatre in a paid or unpaid capacity to take responsibility or to decide whether or not abuse has taken place towards a child or vulnerable adult.
However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities. Bespoken Theatre will assure all staff that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concern that a colleague is or may be abusing a child/vulnerable adult.

Suspected abuse

Any suspicion that a child/vulnerable adult has been abused by any member of staff should be reported to the designated safeguarding lead who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child/person in question and any other child/person who may be at risk.

Should a child/young person or vulnerable adult wish to speak about any concerning issue, all Bespoken staff will let that person know that they have a duty of care to inform a professional if they believe in good faith their is a safeguarding risk or threat to that person.

Should any child/young person or vulnerable adult make any concerning disclosure to staff employed by Bespoken they will inform the designated safeguarding leads who will take the appropriate action as a duty of care to the person who is disclosing the information.


Dealing with Bullying and Intimidating Behavior

Have a zero-tolerance policy to bullying

Take all signs of bullying very seriously

Work alongside and support a school's/institutions anti bullying statement

Challenge the intimidating behavior immediately and explain the situation and try to get child/vulnerable adult who is doing the bullying to understand the consequences of their behavior

Seek an apology to the victim/s.

If behavior remains unsafe and continues we will ask the child/person who is showing intimidating behavior to leave the workshop with other members of responsible and identified  staff.

Speak to the teacher/s of children involved with the incident.

Speak to the staff responsible for all vulnerable adults well-being and safety.

Report any concerns to the designated safeguarding leads within the schools and institutions/community groups that we work within.

Inform staff who are responsible for a vulnerable adults safety and well being.

Encourage and support changes in bullying and negative behavior

Inform all appropriate members of the action taken

Keep a written record of action taken (whom, when etc) For school, institution and community group

Cherie Hughes (Designated safeguarding lead for Bespoken Theatre Company )

Contact