Gaye Poole (Writer)
Gaye has had many false starts including life as a general and psychiatric nurse, an estate agent and encyclopaedia saleswoman, before acting for thirty years and writing plays for the past three. She recently co-founded Human Story Theatre which sums up her passion for putting the human context around health and social care issues. As the most senior of the creative team Gaye probably behaves as if she were the youngest but is very excited to meet women of all ages and to channel their unique stories into a new piece of theatre: ‘6 Women’. As C.S Lewis said: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” So bring on these extraordinary women…

What has been the favourite period of your life?
I was tempted to say ‘right now’ but I always hearken back to when my boys were small. The precise time period? When they were old enough to sleep through the night but young enough to still spend hours catching imaginary butterflies and be entranced by anything new. I was working enough hours in the week to keep a toe in adult company and to bring a tale home to the tea table but few enough so I could attend all the toddler groups and be assured that my two were indeed the brightest, most musical, sporty, well adjusted etc until their own personalities asserted and overthrew my expectations of them and they thankfully carved out their own paths… but I so loved that time of ‘pure imagination’.

Lizzy McBain (Director)
Lizzy is the co-founder and Artistic Director of UnderConstruction Theatre. Growing up in both Cornwall and Oxford, she has also lived in Newcastle, which would be her top other place to live if she could move anywhere, because of the Geordie lust for life, gorgeous coastline, and vibrant music scene. She studied art, and has worked as a barmaid, florist, grape picker, post-person, piano teacher, set designer and theatre director, amongst other things! She writes “I am really excited about the 6 Women Project and the possibility of sharing inspiring stories about amazing women. I love nothing more than having a good conversation with someone new over tea and cake, and always turn to the real-life stories section in newspapers and magazines as I am fascinated by people’s individual life experiences.”

Did your mother work?
My mother went to university in the 60s, which at the time was still relatively rare for a woman. She studied Italian and then worked as a teacher until the 80s when she had three children. I am the oldest and when she had me, she stopped working for 8 years until the youngest was in school when she returned as a part-time supply teacher. She recently told me that her and my father didn’t even discuss what she would do after having a child as it was just assumed she wouldn’t go back to work, and that it was really rather unusual that in comparison, my aunt went back to teaching so soon after having a daughter.I have just had a baby boy and how things have changed! I am lucky enough to get the government maternity allowance (I can’t believe that they don’t even have maternity pay in America where my sister lives, although is it luck – is this not something we should expect in this day and age?), but as soon as that runs out when my son is 8 months old, I will return to work. This is something my partner and I didn’t even discuss, as there is no way we could live off one salary alone. I love my work but I know it’s going to be hard raising a small child and working full time. Will I be able to give either one, my son or my job, their full and due attention? Whilst it is great that Western women can work in almost any field these days, is it fair that the majority of women are still expected to do the bulk of childcare and bring in an income? Is this need to earn more and more money, because we desire more and more material possessions and have limitless expectations on the sort of lives we should lead? And have things really improved since our mother’s and grandmother’s generations?

Emma Webb (Movement Director)
Emma is an experienced movement specialist & she & Lizzy have collaborated on a number of previous projects together, discovering a successful shared process of directing performers. Emma will be the Movement Director on the piece. She is interested in researching how social convention has impacted on female movement throughout the twentieth century & translating this in to the performance environment. This project will build up a transferable bank of knowledge that can be applied to future UCT projects & other commissions.

Why do you dress the way that you do?
I dress the way that I do because I feel comfortable like it.  I’ve struggled to find a particular style that I like because I’m very changeable and open to suggestion. I’m also aware that I dress the way I do because, although I sometimes crave a bit of glamour, I’m not glamorous or particularly pretty. I feel that if I dress in a way that is expected of gorgeous people I will look ridiculous for trying to be something I can never be.  A lot of the time I can be found in trademark tracksuits; it’s my work uniform. My work is one of the things I’m proudest of, so although it looks odd scruffy, I wear the badge with pride.

Suzanne Burlton (Designer)

Suzie is a freelance theatre designer in her twenties. When she was little, she always said that when she grew up she wanted to “make things” – and now she does! She reads a lot about social and domestic history from the late Victorian period to the Second World War (she also has some less esoteric hobbies, like gardening) and is always amazed at how the same experiences and problems crop up again and again, no matter what the time period. Each generation thinks that they are going to be the one to Solve The Problem or Find The Solution but then thirty years later you get someone else writing about how young women’s working lives don’t prepare them to manage the home, or how the morals of working class girls are unjustly maligned in the popular press. But she still believes that times really are changing now, and that we really can make a difference to society.

Do you think it’s better to be young now than when your parents were young?
I remember getting my first social networking account on MySpace when I was a teenager, and thinking how brilliant it would be that now I could catch up with all my friends no matter where they were or what the time was. It felt like the Dark Ages were over! But since then I’ve come to realise what a burden social media and constant, instant communication can be. We’ve started to become aware of how difficult it can be for people to moderate their own use of social media, and how easy it is to paint an unrealistic portrait of your life (even unconsciously) it is online. I think it’s particularly hard for young people, who are in the process of forming their own identity, to cope with the constant barrage of filtered images of “everyday” lives without feeling totally inadequate. On the other hand, what an amazing thing the internet is! I can learn about anything I want to at the click of a mouse, from employment opportunities in Zambia to what my itchy ear means to how to repair my phone. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some fascinating people online, and there’s always someone ready to reach out and help you. On balance I’d rather be young now, although I still think we need to work out how to help people make the most of the good side of the internet without feeling burdened by the bad.

Our Partner Organisations
We are delighted to be working with the following organisations, who are supporting the project and our story-gathering process:

MSt in Women’s Studies, University of Oxford

Arts at the Old Fire Station

Young Women’s Music Project


Crisis Skylight

Kingsmoor Day Centre & Age UK Oxfordshire

UnderConstruction Theatre
UnderConstruction Theatre (UCT) was formed in 2006. Our mission is to revitalise forgotten, neglected & underused sites using storytelling, performance & multi-media to explore where historical & fictional worlds meet & to celebrate the stories & history that make places, people & communities special. We have produced ten unique pieces of work in museums, churches, art galleries & theatres, as well as outdoor sites such as Oxford Castle & the Rollright Stones. These include: ‘Oxford in the Great War’ (2016) in partnership with the Museum of the History of Science & ‘The Lost Voices of Oxford’s Great War’ (2015) in partnership with Museum of Oxford, & three ‘Hidden Spire’ projects (2012-15), devised with homeless people from Crisis Skylight. Since 2012, UCT has also curated regular Theatre Scratch Nights at OFS, supporting theatre makers to show developing work. Click here for the UnderConstruction website.