Friday, 1 July 2016


In which I frankly and unashamedly tell you that I'm available for work.

So after nearly five years of being based at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington, I've taken the leap and "gone freelance". And what does that mean, you ask? It means that I'm a bit living on my savings, a bit applying for things here and there, and working out how I can continue to live the way I want to live, in the city I want to live in, whilst making work I want to make. 

What work is that, exactly? I'm not sure. Definitely directing. Certainly costume design/making. Some writing. Those kinds of things. So. I'm officially Available For Work. And while I do have the odd thing scheduled for the rest of this year, I also would like to schedule in more things (obviously).

But I'm also (trying) to be a bit zen about all this -- so I'm doing that thing where you put the intention or whatever out into the universe and put trust into it. The right thing will come up. The right work will come along. 

So there it is. What happens next? 

We shall see...

Thursday, 12 May 2016



(in which I realise I haven't written anything for ages and haven't updated things in longer)

Things I haven't written about:
1. Jane Eyre reloaded/round three/returns
2. Jane Austen round two (This Time Its Persuasion)
3. Venus Quarry for pluck. Productions
4. The Big Step into the unknown
5. Various Bits of Costume Work (both done and things upcoming)
6. All the life stuff, which I (obviously) don't write about on here.


JANE EYRE happened again, and it was lovely. The reviews page and past projects page will include those things soon.

Currently (as of May 2016), PERSUASION is on at the Rosemary Branch. I think I may have done some of my better work on this production. And it finishes with a hornpipe, so that makes me pretty happy, indeed. It'll be on at the Vera Fletcher Hall and then the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre in June.

VENUS QUARRY was a new play a directed for pluck. for Catford Upon Avon, a Shakespeare festival at the Broadway Theatre Catford. It was a joy to work with pluck. again, they are a brilliant company - not to mention, its always nice to work on something that doesn't have long skirts and bonnets and bowing and curtsies (much as I love all those things).

The Big Step into the Unknown is that I'm going freelance properly in June. Which means I shall be trying to get my work published and do directing and costuming and do all the things that go along with that. Its a bit of a scary prospect, but really a very excellent one. It needs to happen.

Costume stuff happening mostly has to do with Honey Tongued productions, for whom I costumed Twelfth Night last year, in Dubrovnik. This year's Croatian production is Hamlet, which is going to be glorious. And Twelfth Night is going to Vienna in November!

Will write some proper reflections on Persuasion soon...
Philip Honeywell and Anne McPhilemy
photo by Jason Eddy

Wednesday, 29 April 2015



In which I adapted, designed, and directing Pride & Prejudice. Oh, and I sourced the music too, but that was a rather afterthought.

I read an article the other day that said (in a nutshell) that humble-bragging is bad for one's health. So I'm going to endeavour not to humble-brag, but instead simply and clearly say that I am inordinately proud of the work that I did. I know it was good work. The cast were lovely, the reviews were fine, the audience seemed to enjoy it, and I'm relatively sure that I'm getting this adapting lark down to a relatively good science. 

If you want to read what other people said about P&P, have a look at the reviews page. One person's opinion, though, I do want to draw your attention to. Andrew Davies, the author of the BBC Pride & Prejudice adaptation came to see my production and had this to say:

Carla Freeman, George Haynes & Alice Coles in Pride & Prejudice
Photo Credit Bill Knight
Just a word to say I very much enjoyed and admired Bryony Thompson' s witty and economical adaptation.

Her used of Austen's third-person narrative as well as her dialogue took a little time to get used to, but paid dividends, particularly when several different voices were expressing Elizabeth's thoughts, and again in Darcy's second proposal, which I found unexpectedly touching.

It provided opportunities for a small professional cast to display their versatility - I imagine it would work equally well with a larger amateur cast and less doubling.

best wishes

Andrew Davies
And that's a pretty excellent report, all things considered.

Emilia Williams & Danny Frost in Pride & Prejudice
Photo Credit Bill Knight

Tuesday, 10 February 2015



Or, in which I once again embrace doing too many things.

We're about to head into rehearsal (well, six odd days away, anyway) for PRIDE & PREJUDICE! I'm very pleased. Partly because it is a rather lovely thing to be once again working on something that is self-generated, partly because the cast seems to be pretty brilliant, partly because I'm very happy with where the script is, partly because - oh, you know, that really gorgeous feeling that is overwhelming prevalent at the beginning of working on a show which is a mixture of nerves, adrenalin, anticipation etc etc. 

So, if you happen to be in London in March or the very beginning of April, pop on your glad rags, jump in your mechanized carriage of choice, and come and watch what I think will be a little gem of a piece.

Here is the poster. I think you'll agree that is really rather nice. The inimitable Bill Knight took the photo, John from upstairs stood in for Darcy, and that is the really rather lovely Emilia Williams as Elizabeth Bennet.

And this is what we're saying in a slightly more formal way about this production:

Following the success of last year's Jane Eyre ("Fringe theatre at it's best" - The Stage), Bryony J. Thompson turns her attention to regency romance with a new adaptation of Jane Austen's most popular novel. Thompson's passion for language shines and adherence to the original text shines through in this soaring feelgood romp.

Through the magic of theatre, a cast of seven multiplies to include all your favourite characters. Watch sparks fly between fine-eyed Elizabeth and proud Mr. Darcy, sigh with sweet tempered Jane over the affable Mr. Bingley, and raise your eyebrows as extravagantly silly Lydia meets her match in the rakish Mr. Wickham. It is almost too much for Mrs. Bennet's nerves.  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


(Or, Some More Reflections)
I was right.

This year has been about juggling. But not in the way I thought. The work/life balance is actually the thing that suffers.

It turns out, it is actually relatively easy to work on several projects at once. You just need a good diary and a bit of severe focus.

Spirit Harbour
Spirit Harbour was a fascinating experience. Having never directed opera before, I found it really interesting to have to adapt to an actually very different way of working. The biggest thing I found was the idea of pace. In my usual theatre work, pace is King - finding the right pace, rhythm, not dropping pace - but in opera, the pace is set for you by the music. So because it takes so much longer in opera to say what would take a moment in theatre, it is almost as if you are constantly working within stretched moments. Which was an interesting exercise, but I'm not sure if it is for me. I'll have to think about it a bit more.

Wuthering Heights was also a fascinating experience. Being responsible only for costume design was great. There is one task that I had to complete and I did. And I did a huge amount of sewing. Lots of frocks from scratch, lots of jackets adapted to what I thought they should look like. Top tip: to make very convincing breeches, cut the bottom off a pair of trousers and use the excess to make the bib bit of the breeches. Add buttons and either elastic to keep the breeches down, or extra material so the poor actors don't have chaffing on their little legs against their boots. The best sort of trousers to use for this are skinny jeans with some good stretch to them.

Rob Pomfret and Hannah Maddison in Jane Eyre.
Photo Credit, Bill Knight
Jane Eyre was lovely. And if I were a bit more enterprising, I'd probably remount it again and do a big F-off tour, but I'm not so enterprising and also I don't want to think about JE for a bit. I worked on it pretty much non-stop for a year and a half and I want something different. Gorgeous though it was. Might bring it back for 2016 (it will be Chazza B's 200 birthday, after all).

Hannah Maddison in Jane Eyre.
Photo Credit Bill Knight.

And then in June, I went back to Seattle for a month because my sister got married. I made her wedding dress. It was a gorgeous wedding. She was a gorgeous bride. It was a gorgeous little interlude in between working like mad and, well, continuing to work like mad.

Wedding dressing. Photo Credit, Mum. 

And now, on to the next.

Monday, 10 February 2014


If the beginning of this year is anything to go by, this will be the year I learn how to juggle.

Multiple projects happening at once, shifting feelings about where I am in my life, learning to sleep even though the stress level is really quite high. Embracing being in the moment.

I'm aware that you're meant to make new years resolutions at the beginning of the year, but we're approaching my birthday, and this is generally the time of year I feel the need to make an effort to re-commit or make new decisions or whatnot.


We're making this year about challenging myself. We're making this year about going full throttle. We're making this year about not worrying. About loving life, loving, and making work. And if that doesn't make for a full and worthwhile life, I don't quite know what does.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013



(Or Reflections)

This post is about my production of Jane Eyre. Reflections, really.

I first thought about adapting Jane Eyre when I was 16, in a (wait for it) adapting literature for the stage after school drama class. I "adapted" about three pages of it and thought it worked quite well. And then I promptly forgot all about adapting Jane Eyre for about ten years. Then last year, having finished working on my production of Romeo & Juliet, inspiration struck. Jane Eyre. A new adaptation. Why not?

cover page of my script, complete with requisite coffee stains
Well, as it turns out, there are lots of reasons why not. But far more reasons in favour than against. So I set about it.

My adaptation, as oppose to some of the other adaptations I read, contained only words from the book. Granted I switched the order of some things and edited til I hardly recognized some things, but every word was -- is -- Bronte's. In my mind, what is the point of adapting a book, if you don't use the language already there? Its all there. Every word, every emotion, every place setting, every detail is there.

 And that is something I discovered in the rehearsal process: I didn't always miss text I'd cut, but oftentimes there were moments that I'd had to cut from the book (for reasons of pace, continuity, placement, action) that I so missed. And speaking of cutting things, my goal was to get to rehearsal with a script that was 70 pages long,
see all the cutting?
keeping in mind that the book itself (on my computer, anyway) was 284 pages long. In reality, my rehearsal cut turned out to be far too long. Our first read through (as you can just about see from the timings on the front page of my script) took over three hours. And that was quite terrifying, actually. So we set about cutting more and more and more. It was fantastic, in one sense, because it was all about condensing this beautiful thing into an action-driven play. A play, as I think of it, has to move, we have to feel the action driving forward. So every time, there was a word, a sentence, and even in some cases a scene that didn't move the action forward, it was cut. We were still getting rid of pieces in our last week of rehearsal. And we ended up with a good script.

One point I do want to make is that this script wasn't work-shopped. I did not have the time or the funds to do proper research and development on it. I had three weeks of rehearsal to put together a production and that is what we did. So to come out the other side of it with the product that we did is a testament to everyone involved, cast, crew, producers, interns, designers, and a very, very generous audience who were up for seeing something slightly different.

So that was the script. For me, the design was always very clear. Because the adaptation was all about the book and the text, that is what I wanted to present. So a parchment coloured space. With accents of brown, black. Simple. No props. Just a few books. Actors onstage the whole time. Reading and bearing witness. Creating space with bodies, chairs, and very clear "geography" onstage. I find that as I'm planning a production, I see it in my head. Of course these things change and become more and less clear and as soon as you put words in actors mouths things change. When you put clothes on them, they change. And when you ask them to do things, they change. But in a very strange way, the production that came about, was very close to the production I saw in my head. Which is an amazing thing.

And on to the directing bit. Which I can't really write about properly because I can't tell you what I do or don't do. The directing is a bit like trying to be both the smartest audience member ever and also
the stupidest. To see everything and to see nothing. To encourage every nuance and subtle moment, but always keep the arc of the story uppermost in mind. Listening and hearing everyone, taking things on board, but sticking to your point of view.

Finally, this is about letting it go. I found that I didn't have to or want to watch every performance. I watched most of them, I'm not going to lie, but not every one (massive departure from R&J, when I did watch every performance, then operated most of them and when the opportunity arose to not be there for a performance I had to take myself out of London so that I wouldn't be tempted to sneak in and watch how it was going). 

I do theatre because I love it. I do theatre because I think I understand how it should work. I do theatre because I know how to tell stories and I quite like telling stories. The difficult thing about theatre is making something that is so ephemeral have a lasting impression. And striving for that is probably why I do what I do.