In somewhat jokey fashion, the previous post introduced the players in this narrative via a series of Twitterick poems. When this blog was simply a part of the Tower Company newsletter there was a reasonable assumption that readers would at least know a little about the people being referred to. As the blog has now spread its wings it occurred to me that not everyone reading it would necessarily know who the heck these people are so I thought a more formal introduction might be in order. So here are some current biographies to sink your teeth into. Let’s start with the company itself….
Tower Theatre Company (www.towertheatre.org.uk/index.htm)
Tower bills itself as “the most active non-professional theatre company in London” and with up to 18 shows a year that is certainly no idle boast. Throughout its long history it has put on over 1,500 different productions.
The company takes its name from the Canonbury Tower, the building that it occupied for over 50 years in Islington, North London. However, the company’s history goes back even further than that – it was founded in 1932 as the Tavistock Repertory Company (performances were then given at the Tavistock Little Theatre in Bloomsbury). Today the company performs at a number of London venues, principally the Bridewell Theatre just off Fleet Street, Theatro Technis in Camden and Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate. For the last couple of decades they have yearly performed a Shakespeare play in the Jardin de Shakespeare, Paris, an open-air venue in the Bois de Boulogne and in alternate years they regularly take a production to the Minack Cliffside Theatre in Cornwall.
Although it is strictly non-professional, many famous names have appeared on Tower’s boards in the earlier part of their careers, among them Tom Courtenay, Siân Phillips Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon.
So there’s obviously some hope for us all then! Now here’s the lowdown on some of the Dreamteam chosen to participate in the RSC’s Play For The Nation project.
David Taylor – Director
David lives in Islington off the Caledonian Road by the canal.
Early years were spent tinkering with model theatres and doing school plays but his first directing job for the Tower Theatre (as a very young man) was The Boy Friend in 1975. Since then he has directed and designed and occasionally acted in a wide range of shows. Favourite play productions include Pygmalion, Nicholas Nickleby, My Night With Reg, As You Like It, Lark Rise and favourite musicals include Mr Cinders, West Side Story, On The Town, Blitz, Valmouth, Sail Away and Guys and Dolls. His last production was The Producers which won the 2014 Minack trophy when it toured to Cornwall.
He is a part time manager with the Crossrail project and says sorry to anyone fed up with the disruption caused.
Maria Waters – Quince
Maria is a GP who works in Ealing and lives in Richmond.
She loves performing in both musicals and plays and joined Tower in 2008 for David Taylor’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Putting it Together. Since then, she has performed in TheFabulous Eddie & Otis Soul Revue in 2009, and in 2012 played the Blues Singer in The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife and Dinah in Brighton Beach Scumbags. Favourite roles with other companies include Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Belle in My Favourite Year, the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Berthe in Boeing Boeing, Beverley in Abigail’s Party, Mrs Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan, Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mrs Johnson in Blood Brothers, the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Phyllis in Follies, Lina Lamont in Singing In The Rain, Anita in West Side Story and Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. She has directed a couple of shows, Little Shop of Horrors and Assassins.
Maria also loves getting together with the boys in her old Medical School band from time to time, which is tricky as they are now scattered all over the country. They all performed together at a medical school reunion last year and in a music festival this summer.
Adam Moulder – Flute
Adam is a freelance Assistant Producer living in trendy Peckham Rye. His day job usually entails producing sport for the television, predominantly tennis and motorsport for BT Sport and Eurosport.
When not working all hours of the day he is usually found at a rehearsal for a Tower Theatre, SEDOS, KDC, Centre Stage or other London amateur theatre company’s latest production. Some of his favourite roles include Hamlet in The Tragedy of the Prince of Denmark, Lt.Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, Bernard in Boeing Boeing, Hal in Proof, Lewis in Our House and Arvin in Zanna Don’t! He has performed in a few Shakespeare plays too: King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Measure for Measure and The Merry Wives of Windsor and is excited to be adding A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the list. Adam is a big fan of musicals and stand-up comedy when he’s in the audience!
Aside from theatre activity he enjoys watching all types of sport as well as playing a number too including tennis, cricket, golf, squash, skiing, running and wasting his time on Facebook and Twitter (@adammoulder).
Tom Tillery – Starveling
Born and educated in the West of Scotland, Tom’s first stage appearance was as the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland while still a schoolboy over 60 years ago. He broadcast regularly on the BBC’s Children’s Hour before moving to London and joining the Tower Theatre in 1959. He has appeared in over 170 productions in London, America, France, Austria Germany, Gibraltar and Prague. He was in the London premieres of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore by Tennessee Williams, Vatzlav by Vaclav Havel, Arrabal’s The Car Cemetery and Noel Coward’s This Was a Man.
He has appeared in 14 of Shakespeare’s plays and has already played Bottom, Theseus and Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ventures into musicals have included Percival Browne in The Boy Friend, Cardinal Pirelli in Valmouth and the Emcee in Cabaret. Favourite roles include Jack in Home, Pickering in Pygmalion, Jaques in As You Like It and Sadie Spangle in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Tom worked at the Royal Opera House as Music Librarian for over 25 years and contributed programme notes for the Royal Ballet, Sadlers Wells Ballet and the English National Ballet. His own programme collection contains over 6,500 programmes. He was pleased to serve on the Olivier Awards Panel in 2004.
Peta Barker – Snug
Peta Barker was born in St. Vincent, West Indies and lives in Stoke Newington, London.
Peta’s acting credits include: Ariel & Caliban (The Tempest), Macduff (Macbeth), Autolycus (A Winter’s Tale), Iago (Othello), Mrs Yajnavalkya (Valmouth), The Voice of Audrey II – the Plant (Little Shop of Horrors), Mbongeni (Woza Albert!), Scullery (Road), Ash (Dealer’s Choice), Jack Mullen (The Weir), John (Shining City), Samuel Byck (Assassins), Derek (Brighton Beach Scumbags) and Hoke (Driving Miss Daisy). His directing credits include: Blue Remembered Hills, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Burn This, Lysistrata, The Blue Room, Brimstone and Treacle and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Peta has adapted Russell Hoban’s novel, Kleinzeit, for the stage.
Peta plays drums and percussion, guitar and bass guitar, and has played in musicals including: The Wizard of Oz, Blues Brothers, Chicago, Mr Cinders, The Producers, Return to the Forbidden Planet and Annie.
Peta works as Private Hire driver, and continues to be amazed by the wealth of cultural diversity and the rich architectural history of London.
Al Freeman – Snout
Al has been a Tower Company member for over 40 years. He has been less active in recent years because of working as a Drama Teacher in Kent, where he directed musicals such as Guys and Dolls and West Side Story, and plays including Arturo Ui, Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance, The Birthday Party and several productions for the National Theatre’s Connections seasons of new writing for young people. He holds LAMDA and Guildhall teaching diplomas and has been working freelance for the last three years.
Tower productions that Al particularly remembers working on include Burke’s Company, Billy Liar, Look Back in Anger ,The Alchemist, The Duchess of Malfi, Valmouth, and Volpone. He loves going to the Minack, having been in Vivat, Vivat,Regina, the first Tower production there, and since then in The Man of Mode, Little Shop of Horrors, Once in a Lifetime and David Copperfield amongst many others. He also played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar in Paris, as well as many other Shakespearean parts including Oberon, Leontes and Malvolio for the Polesden Lacey Open Air Shakespeare Company in Surrey.
John Chapman – Bottom
By day John (@johnchapman398) works as a freelance education consultant and writer recently completing work for the BBC’s Bitesize revision website. Prior to this he worked at the “chalkface” for rather longer than he cares to remember.
He has always been interested in the world of drama and in 2004 served as a panellist on the Olivier Awards, seeing a mammoth 70 productions in one year.
Not counting the odd (probably very odd) Nativity play, John first took to the stage as a schoolboy pretending to be a Latin frog; he has since been involved with over 140 productions. Favourite acting roles have been Hector in The History Boys (an award winner), Norman in The Norman Conquests, Felix in Humble Boy, Higgins in My Fair Lady, Bob Acres in The Rivals, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night, The Prince Regent in The Madness of George III, Gordon in Neville’s Island, Swelter in Gormenghast and Mr Micawber in David Copperfield (in London and at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall). Best directing jobs have been with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Lord of The Flies, Glorious! and any of the ten works of Alan Ayckbourn which he has steered to a successful conclusion.
Currently with Tower, John spent over 25 years with the Redbridge Stage Company. He is now proud and pleased to be working with the other, more famous, user of the same acronym.
My thanks to my fellow performers for sharing their lives with us.