Guest Blog Post: Bad Aunts

Bad Aunts is inspired by sitcoms and chat shows we grew up watching – but we wanted to make something with a twist, something that makes a comment. Step one: put three, fantastic older women centre stage. 

Bad Aunts is playing on Saturday, 27 July 2019 at 7:15 pm. Click here for more information.

Bad Aunts Blog, Camden People’s Theatre

Following a sell-out run at the Brighton Fringe, the Bad Aunts are at Camden People’s Theatre for one night only before they head to the Edinburgh Fringe. Catch them in their living room on 27 July at 19.15!

Eloïse Poulton & Elinor Lipman, Writers

Bad Aunts is inspired by sitcoms and chat shows we grew up watching – but we wanted to make something with a twist, something that makes a comment. Step one: put three, fantastic older women centre stage. 

The show combats ageism through comedy and we have an inter-generational cast and crew. We both grew up having close relationships with lots of older people and have seen how they can gradually feel sidelined by society. This is one reason why we are so excited to make a show like this, making space for something which celebrates the importance of community in all its variety. 

We are trying a new way of working with scripted comedy, devised work in rehearsals, improvisation and audience participation. There’s also a different stand-up comedian every night making a guest appearance!

The sitcom chat show format gives us lots of scope to explore the main theme of the show, which is how important it is to chat to the people around you! Laughter, now more than ever, is a force to bring people together – not in spite of their differences, but because of them. 

Bad Aunts is the perfect mixture of going out and staying in. We hope people will laugh, cry and cry with laughter; and leave feeling happy and optimistic. Maybe with a couple of new friends. 

Penelope McDonald, ‘Dee’

I’ve been in ‘the business’ for forty-two years and I’ve only ever worked with people of different ages; in fact, the whole gamut of generations.  And it’s totally unimportant. I neither notice nor care about how old a colleague is, I care about whether they are a joy to work with. I care about their talent, their abilities, their people-skills and respect for fellow professionals, their creativity, their willingness to share and explore sensitively and caringly, their commitment to a project and willingness to work hard.  I respect both Ellie and Eloïse for all these things. There are other directors/producers/etc. of a much greater age who I have absolutely no respect for at all and, in fact, to be honest, would happily drop-kick into the nearest canal!

There are many days when I still feel like the baby of the company because I never stop learning and, actually, the more I work with brilliant young creatives, the more they teach me.

I strongly believe that theatre is a powerful tool for helping people address problems. As for comedy – is there a better release?  At one point in my life when I was going through such a difficult time and was incredibly low, my big brother took me to see Slava’s Snow Show – a magical and indescribable experience created by a Russian clown.  I’ve never forgotten how it lifted me and how I smiled and smiled for the first time in ages.

Denise Stephenson, ‘Maz’

It’s been great fun to work alongside two other women of my age, which doesn’t often happen and to be making a piece of theatre about our lives.

I work with younger and older people all the time, that’s one of the great things about theatre, that you’re always meeting and working with diverse groups. What’s exciting about this piece is that it’s about older women and created by two young women. I think we were all impressed by Eloïse and Elinor from the initial audition, what they lack in experience they make up for in their intellectual capabilities, scrupulous attention to detail, tremendous energy and of course their writing and directing talent. 

Comedy is always a brilliant vehicle to highlight something you’re passionate about and I use it a lot in my own work and theatre, of course, can be a great tool to start a conversation. Eloïse and Elinor observed correctly that stories about older women are rare and that is a reflection of the agency older women are given in our culture. By making a piece which centres on our lives and is also fun and a little bonkers hopefully goes some small way to address this. They created three very different characters who are all quite different from us and that has been fun to explore. The issues that older women face are addressed in each character’s story but perhaps the most important message is we’re just the same as we always were “we just give fewer shits”!

Vivienne Soan, ‘Jo’

I’ve always been interested in people and have always played the fool. I’d love nothing more than to have a really comfortable sofa to sit on and listen to people with more problems than me! 

Throughout my adult life, generally in public places – buses, tubes, trains, planes and sometimes Pret a Manger – people I’ve never met before choose my face to tell their life story to. I listen, absorb, and go home glad to be me (but as a professional I actor sometimes go to work and I be them!).

As thespians, we tend to always work inter-generationally but on this occasion, it is wonderful to get up close and intimate with the workings of the young mind. Bringing back memories of attitudes past and present.