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Local actor set for directorial debut as witchcraft comes to Gloucester

Gloucester > Entertainment > Theatre

Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Monday, 27th January 2020, 09:00

Taya Peacey (left) and Jo Hockin during rehearsals Taya Peacey (left) and Jo Hockin during rehearsals

The Phoenix Players have been a popular fixture of the Gloucestershire theatrical community for over 60 years.

Based in Gloucester and performing mainly at The Kings Theatre, the group was founded in 1958, and will be kicking off their 2020 programme this month.

‘Sabbat’ will be directed by Cheltenham-based actor Laura Bayston, and she says it’s something she has wanted to do for a while.

“I’ve been toying with this play for five years,” she explained. “I must have read it hundreds of times and when it came to getting it on stage it’s just never happened.

“Then Jackie (Howard, Phoenix Players member) got in touch and asked if I’d like to do it, and we decided to go for it.”

Laura grew up in Dagenham, East London, and attended the famous Anna Scher Theatre school in Islington during her teenage years.

It was here her love of theatre and performing began, though she admits it was only recently rekindled.

“Anna Scher was great, it was less of a school and more a place for working class kids to have an outlet and work with other kids,” continued Laura.

“I always wanted to go to drama school but could never afford it. So I got a job, and dipped my toes into performing every now and again.

“Then five years ago I did a one year programme at the Bristol Old Vic, retrained as an actor, got myself an agent and since then I’ve been getting more and more work.”

Since then Laura has gone on to appear in several short films, on stage and on our TV screens with a role in the popular BBC drama ‘Killing Eve’.

‘Sabbat’ will mark Laura’s directorial debut, and she says that rehearsals have been going well, despite the fact she is used to being on the acting side of things.

“It’s a small cast of four,” she said, “we’ve been rehearsing twice a week and our more experienced actors have been helping our youngest actor Evie, who is 14.”

The play tells the story of the infamous Pendle witch trials in Lancashire in the seventeenth century.

“It’s a simple play and it’s quite dark,” continued Laura, “it’s all about relationships, and how one small thing can grow and how stories can be manipulated to have devastating consequences.

“Hundreds of innocent people were killed in witch trials all over the world, for small things like having a wart on their chin.

“I think it relates to the modern day. Someone can put out a tweet that gets picked up and suddenly they can be labelled as something they’re not.”

‘Sabbat’ will be at The Kings Theatre from Tuesday 18th to Saturday 23rd February.

Other Images

Costa Cuard (left) will be playing Roger Nowell, Taya Peacey will be playing Judith Nowell, and Jo Hockin will be playing Alice Nutter
Costa Cuard (left) and Evie Hockin, who will be playing Jennett Preston during rehearsals

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