Bletchley Park from a female perspective
A brand-new play at The Pavilion Theatre in Selsey takes us back into the wartime world of Bletchley Park with an all-female perspective.
Following the success of The Dumb Waiter last year, Ice Breaking Productions are back at the venue with the one act-play That’s Our Girl written by Josh Harcourt-Kelly and directed by Daniel Bowring, with Ryan Moss as assistant director.
Performances are from Tuesday, June 26 to Saturday, June 30, 7.30pm. Tickets on https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/237930.
Ryan said: “Dan set the company up when he was at university. He made a short film and since then he has wanted to go into directing and has got a group of actors together to put on different productions every year, using the same group of actors to form like a rep company.”
The hope would be to develop it at the Pavilion in Selsey: “At the moment the building itself is in quite a state of disrepair, but there is a stage in there, and anywhere there is a stage, you can put on a production. There are lots of plans to develop it and it would be great if they came to fruition with this as a renovated and restored theatre.
“The play was written by Josh. Josh and Dan are friends, and they originally went into Ice Breaking Productions together. Josh is quite a keen writer and wrote this play and sent it across to Dan and said ‘Would you like to put this on?’ I was in Dan’s production last year and he asked me to come along as assistant director, helping mostly on the characterisation.
“It is a one-act play in the huts at Bletchley Park and focuses on four women. It is an entirely-female ensemble. It explores how the war affects them personally and how they affect the war. There are all in their 20s. They are still young women. Three of them are Wrens and one of them is a civilian. We start the play looking through the eyes of a character called Dorothy. It is her first day on the job. She meets the other three women. They are all unique personalities, but they form quite a close bond.
“From what I understand, Josh spent quite a lot of time at Bletchley Park doing a lot of research. We have also gone to Bletchley Park to get some visual studies for it. From what I understand, the women led a very pressurised life. They would quite often start work at midnight and work until ten or 11 in the morning, and they had very few breaks and very little time off. But the thing was the secrets that they had to keep. In the play we have got two characters who are best friends that are put into the same hut so they don’t have to keep secrets from each other, but they are not allowed to tell anything to their friends or family or husbands.
“The piece is a drama, and it is shaping up very well. We have got a fantastic cast.”
Director Dan said: “With the company we want to do predominantly dramas, and I am really keen to break the traditional mould… hence this play with an all-female cast, something that isn’t really conventionally seen in the theatres. I don’t think there is enough material that breaks the mould. There are a lot of plays about the war, but they are all very male based. It is good to be able to explore it from a female perspective.
“At the moment the Pavilion is our home, and it would be wonderful if it could be developed. It would be our aim to set up a rep company here and do maybe three or four or five plays a year.”