No two days are the same. I might be
researching, reading, writing, or meeting people. I could be at
home, in the office, or in rehearsal. If I'm writing a play, most
of the work is likely to be done in the middle of the night, when
there are fewer distractions.
I joined the Riding Lights Theatre Company as an actor
in 1992, and haven't left - though I've been through a
number of job descriptions since then. I'm now an associate
I went to Oxford University, and was also
member of the National Youth Theatre, but then I just took a leap
of faith into the theatre. I started with small jobs in small
companies, and found a way.
I work freelance in addition to my work with Riding
Lights, which helps me to keep at least one foot in
When you visit the optician, you're asked to
decipher a chart while a succession of lenses, sometimes layered
together, are placed before your eyes. As Christians, we view the
world through a faith perspective - but other things may sharpen
our understanding, or reveal to us things that we'd never noticed
before. Theatre can do that. At its best, it is both communication
and communion: it touches a part of us that is unreached by
sermons, and it connects us to the people who share the performance
I'm not sure I understand what constitutes "Christian
drama". Which is more Christian: a play about the life of
St Paul written by an atheist, or a play about the NHS written by a
Christian? The only thing that can accurately be described as
"Christian" is a human being; so the term "Christian theatre" is
simply a stumbling block to putting plays before audiences. I'd
abolish it if I could, and then we'd be judging plays on more
We need to develop a more sophisticated understanding of
what theatre is, as well as a more catholic taste. What
are we afraid of? We don't turn on a tap and question whether the
plumbing is sufficiently evangelistic.
I tend to think that if a play packs a punch,
God's in the punch. I've been challenged, moved, delighted, and
spoken to by all kinds of theatre. It can be holy without being
I don't think that any institution fires the
imagination. It's the people within it who have the
ability to do that.
There's an increasing interest in the Church in the
power of story, which is encouraging; but imagination is
even more important: imagination encourages empathy, and with
empathy comes compassion. It's critical to how we relate to other
people. Being imaginative isn't a way of escaping the "real" world:
it's the key to engaging with it.
I'm lucky enough to have the gift of being able to
immerse myself in, and be fascinated by, whatever I'm writing
about. So, to a large extent, whatever I'm working on has
the potential to be my dream play. But I hope that my best work is
always ahead of me.
I've been working on a new Passion play, based
on a piece I wrote for the last Lambeth Conference, and an
adaptation of a children's book.
And I'm researching dementia for a play, by
reading, talking to people, meeting scientists working on it. We're
running workshops for people and their families to see if we can
explore new methods of communication based on theatrical
approaches, and use this for the play eventually. I hope we end up
with a play we can tour and wisdom we can share to improve
communications between people with dementia, to deepen richness of
relationships just at the point where they feel as if they are
Riding Lights performs all over the place.
We're rehearsing a co-production of The Alchemist with the
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and touring in churches, homes,
schools, and prisons.
The themes in The Alchemist of crooks playing
on people's need and greed is amazingly topical in this
financial crisis that we are in now, and it's also great farce:
hugely funny and acerbic, with larger-than-life characters.
I grew up in Oxford with my parents, and
younger sister and brother. We were a raucous, somewhat Bohemian
family, with a front door that was always open. I now live in York
with my husband, Mark, who's a teacher, and our five-year-old twin
We adopted our daughters from Ethiopia in 2009,
when they were seven months old. We had looked after nieces and
nephews, but having two at once held its challenges. You learn as
you go along about things you can do, like how to get two babies in
and outof the car - and the things you can't do, like go swimming
withtwo babies. It's a learning curve,but parenting is always a
The twins have a kind of mirror in terms of each
other, not just in terms of appearance but also in
experience, and I hope that will counter that sense of loneliness
that some adopted children may feel in a family. I hope that will
bind them to each other and comfort them.
I'm happy to do almost anything for my church,
but these days I prefer it not to be drama-related. I'm also a
diocesan governor for my local Church of England primary
When I read Aristotle's Poetics, I
remember being astonished that there was still a market for all
those "How to write" books. He's got it nailed. I was expecting a
commentary on Greek theatre, but I thought it could be written now
- it's so directly applicable to our understanding of character and
dynamics of drama. When you read the plays he would have known, we
don't read the richness into them, but you can see his work being
mined and developed in more sophisticated texts from later.
I like up to the sound of my children
discussing whether or not it's too early to get into Mummy's bed.
And I like anywhere with sunshine and good
food. Halki, a tiny Greek island, is hard to beat.
I was last, will be next, and am continually
angry with the rich getting richer and the poor getting
poorer, and the people who are comfortable with that.
I'm happiest in the summer.
I mostly pray for other people. There's one
family who have been the focus of much of my prayer for the last
I've had a crush on Joseph Banks (1743-1820)
ever since being floored by Joshua Reynolds' portrait of him in the
National Portrait Gallery. He led an extraordinarily energetic
life, including travelling the world as a botanist with Captains
Cook and Bligh; so he'd have some good stories to tell. Is flirting
allowed in church?
Bridget Foreman was talking to Terence Handley
Inheritance, Bridget Foreman's new Passion play, is produced
by the Riding Lights Theatre Company, and opens at Halifax Minster
tonight, 14 March. It tours throughout the UK until Holy