New touring production based on life of actress Alison Peebles

3 Aug 2012 in Dance & Drama, Highland

My Shrinking Life is an exciting collaboration between one of Scotland’s leading actors, directors and theatre/film makers, Alison Peebles and European experimental theatre-maker, Lies Pauwels. It was during rehearsals for David Greig’s The Cosmonaut’s Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union, when a creeping numbness and too many falls led Alison to her doctor and an eventual diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis.

My Shrinking Life created from interviews with family, friends, colleagues and the medical profession, examines the journey Alison has been on physically and emotionally since that first diagnosis in 2001. Despite her limitations, even because of them, My Shrinking Life is a very physical piece of theatre, performed by Alison and three dancers; Katie Armstrong, Thomas J Baylis and Hanna Stanbridge. Two additional child actors will play Alison’s younger self. Celebratory, irreverent and sometimes surreal, it is the story of Alison and her shrinking life.

My Shrinking Life is directed by Lies Pauwels, an associate of experimental Belgian theatre company, Campo/Victoria, who directed David Harrower’s Knives in Hens for the National Theatre of Scotland in 2011.

Alison said, “Toddlers just learning to walk whiz past me as I stagger inelegantly on my crutches, people amble past, non-serious walkers just ……walking, taking for granted the gift they don’t know they have”

Alison trained as a painter at Edinburgh School of Art, became a Performance Artist, then worked as a Community Artist in Cumbria. She developed her career as an actress as a co-founder of and touring with Communicado Theatre. She has played leading roles in theatres throughout UK. Recent productions include Mother Courage, Doubt and Happy Days. She has just finished a feature-film, 7 Lucky Gods, and two short films Angelina Daemon and Meal Deal and was recently seen in Donna Rutherford’s KIN playing theatres, hospitals, museums and art galleries. She will be appearing on TV later this year as Vicky Kirkland, an archeologist in new BBC One crime drama, Shetland.

Alison has directed an award-winning feature film, short films, TV, radio and many productions for theatre. In 2012 she directed The Captain’s Collection for Dogstar at Celtic Connections, Glasgow and The Man Who Lived Twice for Birds of Paradise about the young John Gielgud’s meeting in New York with playwright Edward Sheldon who was paralysed from the neck down. For the National Theatre of Scotland she directed Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, HOME Aberdeen and Flit – Transform Kilmarnock .

In 2005 Alison made a documentary about having Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple with Media Co-op and BBC Scotland. The documentary won awards at the Chicago International Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, Texas and Superfest International Disability Film Festival, Berkeley, California. Alison directed the feature film AfterLife by Andrea Gibb (The Standard Life Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Audience Award, Cherbourg Film Festival), short films Nan and Tangerine by Colin Hough for Scottish Screen/BBC/STV and the 10 part series Stacey Stone for BBC Scotland. Radio includes The Last Ten, Club Velvet and Lochpool Nights by Simon McCallum.

Lies Pauwels is an actor and director. Work includes: I dwie minuty csizy (William Horzyca Teatr, Poland) and Een vrouw die de horizon heeft bereikt (Campo – formerly Victoria – Belgium). Lies has worked closely with theatre makers Alain Platel and Arne Sierens, and she appeared in the trilogy they made together for Victoria: Mother and Child, Bernadette and All Are Indians. Her directing credits include Club Astrid, White Star (Victoria), For All the Wrong Reasons (Manchester International Festival/ Contact Theatre/ Victoria) and Venizke (as co-director with Ben Benaouisse/ Campo).

Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, Friday 5 & Saturday 6 October 8.00pm

Tickets: £12.00/ £10.00

Box Office: 01463 234234

Source: National Theatre of Scotland