Interview: Odd Doll’s Kathleen Yore, Part II

In Part I of this rather lovely chat with Odd Doll’s Artistic Director Kathleen Yore, we talked her route into the arts, love of her craft and all things puppetry and visual theatre. Here in Part II we talk influences, good eggs in Yorkshire and her best ‘the show must go on’ tales…

Is there someone in the industry who has really inspired or influenced you?

I think our theatre community here in Yorkshire is so supportive. I get support from everyone really; the Red Ladder folks support me loads – Chris, the producer there, has just started to meet me for coffees and advice. Rebekah Caputo who I used to work with has now moved to Denmark and is having a family so it’s just me, so I think it’s really important to create a team of good collaborators around you. Red Ladder are really supportive and great friends, they provide me with my lock up space for set. Then Cast in Doncaster have been amazing – there’s theatres in the north that just basically give me a gig and give me space to work and Cast is one of those – amazing people there, brilliant women. Harrogate Theatre – Porl Cooper who supports me in everything I do and involves me in everything.

So Yorkshire folk are just generally good eggs?

Yeah – I feel like we all just help each other, like we all go and see each other’s work, we all work for each other – there’s a cross-over; we’ve all been in each other’s rehearsal rooms. Especially for people making their own work, I feel like it’s such a supportive network and now I live near Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield and they help me with space…and Barnsley Civic – I feel like people here will try their best to help you.

High praise!

And is there a specific show which has left an indelible mark as a theatre lover and/or maker?

Yeah, well – I’ve got a few… So I recently saw Kiss and Cry Collective at London Mime Festival. I don’t know if you’ve seen them but that blew my mind, I mean I was kind of on the verge of tears the for the whole show and just looking at the audience in disbelief. That was pure visual expression and poetry – but clearly they had millions of pounds, (laughs) it was high budget! I kind of build something for £500 but theirs must be 5 million or something – a different level! Go see them, you will feel reborn! 

And there’s a company called Acro Jou who do beautiful outdoors work, very visual and stunning and I love that. It’s kind of what I’m working on next with my new clown show; creating a beautiful piece of visual theatre that just pop up outdoors so you get that high quality of theatre that you’d normally get indoors but it’s randomly at the bottom of your street. This also goes back to our playing, travelling roots which I love. Acro Jou make lovely work like that inspires me. 

I just saw Told By An Idiot at HOME in Manchester and the physical characterisations, the clown and the physical comedy in that was just absolutely stunning, so they really inspired me recently. They inspired me because it reminded me of the detail of physical expression that can be attained – that was pure skill that looks like it’s taken a long time to develop. I’m also inspired by great clowns like Paulo Nani and Gabriella Munoz in South America because clown is very closely related to puppetry.

Last question then. Do you have a best ‘the show must go on’ tale to tell?

Yes I do – I think everyone must have one… It’s gotta be my first show with my first company. I was at the Edinburgh Fringe and at the time, in my early twenties I was very very fit (laughing) unlike now! I did all that kind of traditional training with Derevo in Russia – it was that physical training that was like FEEL THE PAIN – if you don’t have a bruise on your leg then you’re not working hard enough! So I had it in my head that you need to really push it.

So before I did the show I’d be out on the cobbles with a hoover and I’d be doing weird physical theatre with this hoover, kind of flinging it about my head and just being mental – then suddenly I fell and I cracked my neck on the cobbles. I was in full body make-up and I got rushed to A&E and got put in a brace thing… but even though I was on drugs I was like ‘NO, we’ve still gotta continue with the show!’ I got on stage unable to move my neck and I great pain. Then I won an award at Edinburgh for being the most persevering performer of the fringe!

That’s horrific! I usually get funny stories… that one is pure pain!

Maybe I should tell you the Seaside Terror one…

Look, I love these stories so I’m not gonna stop you – you can tell me as many as you like.

So, I fell down the stairs and broke my nose and it just completely smashed. I had to have an operation to put it back together and the doctor said you know, you’ve been under general anaesthetic so you can’t work now. And that night, lo and behold, I had a show of Seaside Terror at Halifax Square Chapel where I had to wear a mask on my broken nose! I was on all this general anaesthetic and morphine and stuff and I’ll never forget it because it was the weirdest show I ever did in my life because everything was spinning around me.

I’ve always assumed you can’t cancel a theatre show and that you just have to persevere. Oh and then there’s the time in Red Ladders Mother Courage when I got so much dust on my lungs due to the environment we were in I struggled to breath never mind talk…the list goes on…but I loved every minute of it and thank god they still got 5 stars despite that strange women in the wings choking.

Tell the truth, you were thinking about that perseverance award from Edinburgh, weren’t you? Had to live up to that hype ever afterwards!

(Laughing) I know – but it was a really good show and everyone loved it and I really don’t know how I managed to do it –  I think there’s something crazy about us performers, we have that feeling of ‘the show must go on’ but in Seaside Terror it was like a horror movie in itself because under the mask I just had this bloody bandage on my face and everything about it was just wrong!

But you made it through… and did anyone notice any difference?

No I think they were really impressed. But then when I took my mask off at the end and I had these swollen eyes and bruised face people were like (laughing) ‘who is she? She’s really scary!’

Christ – you must get injured all the time then in clowning?

Not so much anymore, I’m older now and like to think I am more graceful – I take things slower! I don’t believe in stress, I just believe in making things nice and easy and calm. Life’s too short.

So there you have it – some fine and very timely wisdom to close there! Take a peek at Part I if you missed it and keep an eye out for Kathleen’s upcoming online content. For now, you can pop over to the Odd Doll website for more insight into the company and past work – and why not follow Odd Doll on Twitter to stay in the loop?

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