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Jill Riddiford’s “Stories about people like my Mam”

Jill Riddiford will be performing in ALAN BENNETT’s A Bed Among The Lentils, as part of TALKING HEADS. This Glasgay! production will be at Mitchell Theatre for the Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2014. Book your tickets now!

What drew you to work on this production?

Hahaha! Because I was asked! But it is a privilege to have the chance to perform Talking Heads.

 What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

Oh! Where to start. I remember when they were first broadcast – the effect they had was astonishing. I was raised in a Northern English tangle of Mams and Aunties and Great Aunties  – ordinary women who only saw themselves  represented on TV and stage as the periphery, the supporting act, the comic turn. To see themselves  as the ‘main character’ was very powerful.  Women and men  who were familiar but overlooked – that woman who died alone and nobody there to help, the bloke who still lives with his mam, a vicar’s wife embarrassing everyone with the drinking, that one there thinking she’s going to be a big star – were brought from the sidelines to the spotlight with compassion and intelligence.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

None of us have immunity from old age or sickness, and Cream Cracker under the Settee reminds us of that.  Society is only as good as the care that it takes of its most vulnerable members.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

Love thy neighbour, I reckon.  Even thy lonely, odd, embarrassing or deluded neighbour.

Have you got a favourite family anecdote that’s similar to Alan Bennett’s view of everyday life?

I know what you are expecting here. Stories of the aunt who painted Tinkerbelle thepoodle pink. The colour-blind uncle peering at tomatoes on the allotment, unsure if they were ripe or not.  The nephew who was a terrible goalie when the boys played football in the back lanes because he wore a tutu and high heels.  But Alan Bennett’s stories are about compassion and love and respect. About the extraordinary beauty of the everyday. About that woman who, at an age when the stairs were already too much for her, uncomplainingly climbed them twenty, thirty times a day for three months to take water, a conversation, morphine, up to her dying husband. Stories about people like my Mam.