I’ve wanted to interview this lush human for ages – she’s a mega talented writer, performer and theatre maker and reminds me of a younger version of myself…..if I could sing, or dance…or perform…..my point is, we are both passionate about similar things, we love to write and we like to tell stories – whether our own or enable others to tell theirs.
Rebecca Glendenning pops up in my head often has a person who is REALLY doing exciting things on her own terms as a theatre maker and writer. As someone steam rolling towards my mid-30s (make it stop!), it’s lush to look back onto others and see folks, like Becky in their 20s in the creative sector doing exciting stuff. She’s one to watch and from the moment, I saw her perform on stage in the first Bonnie and The Bonnettes’ show a few years ago – I knew she was special. I knew she was my type of human and it’s a pleasure to watch her career gather speed across various projects.
So I’ve wanted to interview her for a while, but of course, I try to find reason and purpose to interview – so the stars aligned when I was meeting Workie Ticket Theatre founder and Co-director JoJo Kirtley and Co-director Lindsay Nicholson recently, about their project Women Warriors and they dropped Becky’s name as a writer on the project. I was already in love with Women Warriors, a theatre project giving voices to female veterans but hearing Becky’s name made me love it more and I did a little excited dance in my chair. Yep… I dance…in business meetings…learn to love it Culture Vultures. #professional
Hi Rebecca, tell my fellow Culture Vultures who you are?
I’m Rebecca Glendenning, a theatre maker and stage manager based in Newcastle. I’m also co-founder of Bonnie and The Bonnettes who are a Newcastle based theatre company. I make fun, affecting work, influenced by politics, gender, and sexuality.
I love asking this question as it’s so different for everyone…tell me about your journey into the creative sector and theatre?
I’ve always loved writing; I used to write books and plays when I was little and just never stopped. I came to Northumbria Uni to study Drama and Scriptwriting in 2013 and in my third year I met Hattie and Cameron who are my Bonnie and The Bonnettes co-founders.
When Bonnie and The Bonnettes, as we are now, first started in our third year of Uni, we performed at one of The Letter Room’s Bonenkai nights and at the first Curious? Festival; getting our name out there. At the same time I was learning basic technical skills through University and volunteering at the old Alphabetti Theatre in the basement. That summer I was one of the volunteer technicians at Northern Stage’s Edinburgh venue in Summerhall and we had a weeks’ worth of training as part of that and then the month of experience working with some really mint artists.
Curious Arts Festival
Then once I was on the MA Theatre and Performance at Northumbria with Hattie and Cameron we were able to finish making our debut show Drag Me to Love, which we performed at Northern Stage in 2017, start The BonBons Cabaret, and start thinking about our second and current show, And She.
Whilst this was happening I was working more at Alphabetti as a technician! Now that I’d had some training, I started doing bits of Stage Management work on regional tours and for local companies which lead to more stage management and tech work, and then in 2018 I was offered my current job as Technical Co-ordinator of Alphabetti Theatre. I feel like I’ve rambled there, so much has happened in such a short amount of time!
Bon Bons Cabaret
I’m queen of the excited ramble so ramble away! How did you find out about and connect with Workie Ticket Theatre?
Workie Ticket Theatre founder and Co-director JoJo Kirtley put a call-out on Facebook for plays surrounding women and women’s issues for their ‘Hear Her Roar’ performance night, and my friend tagged me in it. I replied saying I had something for it, and then JoJo got in touch. It was a piece about falling in love with a girl for the first time when I was fourteen. It’s always nice to meet other theatre companies, and working with such a lovely one was a bonus!
JoJo and Lindsay from Workie Ticket Theatre
Tell me more about your ‘Hear Her Roar’ contribution? I didn’t get to see it but I heard it was really fantastic….
For Hear Her Roar I wrote a piece about falling in love with a girl for the first time when I was fourteen, and all the excitement and cuteness and internalised homophobia that goes with that.
I performed it at two separate Hear Her Roar events and it was a great experience both times. JoJo and the team were really supportive, and so when JoJo got in touch again asking if I wanted to contribute to the Women Warrior’s project I was like, YES!
The power of social media (other creatives take note!)…So onto Women Warriors; what was/is it like being a part of their creative team?
Lush! So so Lush!
This was my first ever writing commission. From day one, you just get such a sense of how much the project means to everyone involved, and the care they take with the female veterans and the writers and every member of the team, it’s just lovely!
During the sharing we had a few months ago, which was the first time most of the team had all been in a room together, there was such a caring atmosphere and it just felt so SO special, which I know sounds a bit cliché; but you could tell how much hearing their stories being told meant to the veterans, and how much it meant to the creative team to do them justice.
Tell me about Women Warriors from your perspective – as a writer and part of the creative team?
I think my experience of the Women Warriors project was slightly different to the other writers because I was paired up with a veteran and based on one to one conversations, instead of going to the groups. The reason we were paired together was because she is a gay woman and served at a time being gay was illegal in the British Military. As a gay woman, JoJo thought that would be a topic very close to my heart.
It’s been a lovely experience that I won’t forget. It’s been amazing to meet her (the veteran) and learn about her life, what she went through and the amazing person she’s come out the other side as. Also as a younger lesbian, it’s been really interesting to learn about an entire section of our history I had no idea existed and not from books but from a woman who lived it.
Tell me a bit about your piece/ part of Women Warriors?
As I sort of mentioned in the previous question, my contribution is about a female veteran who is gay and served at a time when it was illegal to be gay in the British Military; so she was paired up with a man who she had to marry or she’d be kicked out.
At the time she was recruited, she was homeless due to an abusive home life and being kicked out of the Army would mean going back to that so she married him, and he turned out to be abusive. The piece focuses on her journey through the military having to keep her sexuality a secret and now the amazing work she does to help LGBTQ+ people and how she’s turned such a negative experience into something that helps others.
She’s a bit of a personal hero of mine now, I won’t lie.
Tell us about the process for writing it the piece?
For writing it, I asked the lovely veteran I was paired with a lot of questions, and started out by putting it all in a timeline – she’s done quite a lot! Because it’s based broadly on her life outside the military, as well as inside, I had to leave out a lot of the things in that timeline but it was a really interesting experience hearing her talk. Then it was lots of edits and redrafts until I was happy with it. It was mainly chatting, and taking notes, and asking more questions.
Bringing her story to life on stage must be such a meaningful moment for you both! So, I’m coming to see it but why should audiences come and see Women Warriors ON 9TH OCTOBER at The Exchange (tickets are still available HERE)
I think, people should come see it because it’s a perspective that’s not heard, and it’s such an important one. There’s so much of life in the military that people who aren’t a part of it, just don’t know, and people know even less about what it’s like for a woman. It’s eye opening, funny, and tender, and just a really good watch.
Try and sum it up in 3 words for me?
Empowering, devastating, vital.
You’re doing LOADS at the moment…. Tell us more?
Right now Bonnie and The Bonnettes are in the middle of touring And She; and gearing up from our Halloween BonBons Cabaret on the 26th of October at Alphabetti. I’ve just come back from stage managing the tour of Holly Gallagher’s show Tensile Strength which is a joy to work on. I’m extending the short piece I wrote for ‘10 Minutes To Stake a Claim’ at Live Theatre Newcastle called ‘Chained Reaction’ too, which is about a woman seeking revenge after her friend is spiked and killed on a night out, which is very fun to write.
Bon Bons Cabaret
Congrats on your recent tour of And She (I absolutely bliddy loved it and my fave show of the year)…. Tell my fellow Culture Vultures about the show and where they can see it next?
Thank you! The show is part gig-part mums living rooms, and it the three of us (Bonnie and the Bonnettes) exploring motherhood, femininity, and woman hood through our mum’s stories, as well as our relationships with our mums now that we’re adults living away from home. There’s original songs from the incredible MXYM, and the feel good element that people know us for; we love a party, but with very real moments too because no parent-child relationship is perfect.
Our next date in the North East is the 7th of November when we’ll be at ARC in Stockton, and out next date is Barnsley on the 19th of October. You can see other tour dates HERE.
I’ve heard rumbles about a NEW show- I’ve always got my ear to the ground – I’ve heard you’re writing a show about you growing up and mosh pits? Can you share anything about that?
For Bonnie and The Bonnettes’ third show we’re teaming up with The Six Twenty to make a show called ‘I Died in a Moshpit’, which I’m super excited to be writing.
It’s a lesbian coming of age story from the moshpits of the Leeds underground punk scene. It’ll be gig theatre, and we’ll be working with two actor-musicians to make it. It’s feeling invincible at 17, and terrified of what’s coming next, but maybe if you hold their hand whilst that band play that song, it won’t feel as bad.
I love the sound of that! Big fan of The Six Twenty too – so yey! So finally…. what’s next for Becky?
This Christmas, I am lucky enough to be working on three shows; two for the lovely children’s theatre company Kitchen Zoo who are bringing WOLF to Northern Stage this Christmas in stage 3, and The Three Bears at Christmas to Queen’s Hall in Hexham. I’ll be working on them as Stage Manager and Company Stage Manager – I’m excited to be back in the room with such a lovely company.
And as a performer I’m hyped to be working on Bonnie and Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular at Live theatre which is a Christmas show for grown-ups and is Bonnie and The Bonnettes and Your Aunt Fanny. We’ve just had two weeks R&D together and I can’t give away too much but you’re in for a treat.
Tickets are selling really fast so please grab them whilst you can!
Bonnie and Fanny’s Christmas Spectacular
Well thanks Becky – that’s a whole lot of something and a whirl wind tour of past, present and future Becky (I watched Muppets’ Christmas Carol recently and I’m running with it). There is STILL time to nab the final few tickets to see Women Warriors tomorrow (9th October) at The Exchange in North Shields – get them from HERE and for anything else Bonnie and the Bonnettes related…. HERE.
That’s all for now Culture Vultures.