A teenage Cathy Tyson and Michelle Inniss
And now three decades on, actress Cathy Tyson and writer Michelle Inniss are teaming up again, this time on a new play premiering this autumn.
She Called Me Mother was commissioned by the pioneering Black Theatre Live consortium, and both friends are determined to add a Liverpool date to the touring schedule.
“I’ve got three Liverpool venues in mind,” reveals Cathy, who is currently in rehearsals for a new play, Radiance, in which she plays Marie Curie and which opens in London next week.
She Called Me Mother – being staged through a new company, Pitch Lake Productions, set up by the two women and director Cara Nolan – is Michelle’s first play. It centres around an elderly Afro-Caribbean homeless woman, Evangeline, and her estranged daughter Shirley, and is written in poetic Trinidadian vernacular.
Evangeline was inspired by a real-life homeless Black woman whom the writer got to know when travelling through London Bridge station regularly on the way to visit her mum.
Playwright Michelle Inniss
“Michelle showed me the play about two years ago and I was struck by this voice,” adds Cathy. “The language was the first thing that had me. I was excited by it because my father is from Trinidad
“The emotional potential of the play is boundless.
“Michelle surprised me. I was the big, loud brash one at school. The quiet ones always get missed out a bit. It was only after we left I discovered who she was. She’s so brainy!”
And that youthful dynamic is recalled by Michelle, who laughs: “We used to go to an am dram group at Speke. Cathy was doing fantastically, and then it came to me and I just looked out at the audience and I couldn’t say a word!
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