My name is Lynn Sutcliffe.
I run a small independent television company and we make programmes for broadcasters. Umm I used to work for the BBC and lots of different independent TV companies but two and a half years ago I started my own.
So it was umm 1987 and I was at college in Liverpool and we had booked Spare Tyre to come and perform at our college. They were absolutely inspirational. I thought their work was amazing, what they were saying was fantastic. We became kind of a bit of Spare Tyre uhh I dunno, follower followers really. We went to see all the productions. So I remember ‘Laugh Lines’ umm which was one about getting older. I remember ‘Gone Shopping’. I remember one about health umm. I used to buy all of the cassette tapes because they used to sell the cassette tapes after the gigs and I used to play them on my cassette recorder in my room and learn all the learn all the lyrics.
So I came down I did the audition, we got on the course and really that is what changed my life. That’s really what opened up my life was the Spare Tyre course. It kind of did for me what university never really managed to do which was open the doors that I I wanted open and open my mind in the way I wanted it opening, meet the people I wanted to meet.
It was basically a course in community theatre, which was going to result in us devising a cabaret. So the idea was that we’d learn umm from Spare Tyre from Nick and from each other and then we’d actually put the show on for two weeks at the end just before Christmas.
Well the great thing about Spare Tyre, and I do think that the work they did was, it was absolutely magical because they would handle your your stories your feelings your thoughts so carefully so respectfully and yet they would use such craft to kind of help you think “how could you pull that into a story? How could we how could we show that on stage? How shall we show that on stage?” Very empowering, very umm generous in their facilitation. You know bringing things back and saying you know “we’re thinking of… this, what do you think of this?” but a lot of lot of input you know a lot of umm “we think we should do a scene like this, do you want to come and help us devise it?” and we then we’d improvise it and we’d improvise it again and we’d improvise it again and they’d be writing down what you were saying and then you’d get given a script that was basically your own words but kind of written down and given back to you which was incredibly exciting really umm and very validating and a very very important way of working.
Its its outreach projects were amazing, it really did kind of find really really diverse groups of people to put to together. You know, okay I was a, you know, relatively middle class girl who’d gone to college who’d come down from Liverpool but the group itself was really diverse in all its classes and its backgrounds and its experiences and those people have been found in all different places and put together and we all learned from each other. You know all experience is valid umm and I think that there’s something very simple and powerful about Spare Tyre’s work in the beginning. It was just to say that all have our stories and our stories matter and if we share our stories with other people we’ll learn we’ll learn from each other’s experiences and we’ll learn kind of how to go forward stronger and better together. And I suppose you know we believed we were making people think about issues. Well we were making people consider their their behaviour, their activities, the language they were using, how they were treating each other so it felt like there was a there was a point. We were working very very hard umm for you know very little material gain but huge kind of psychological and mental gain.
With Spare Tyre’s art projects you really do feel you’re at the heart of it. You’re not somebody whose performing what other people have written. You really do feel that you have created, written, lived those scenes and you you have multi multitasking roles. You know most people aren’t performers turning up to say the words. They’ve they’ve been invested in it from the beginning from the creation they’ve helped to make the scenery they’ve helped to make the costumes they’ve helped to drive the bus they’ve helped to you know it really is a group effort and therefore the sense of achievement is extraordinary.
The Spare Tyre experience I had was so amazing and transformational and life affirming and life changing. Every time I walk past the poster on my stairs and I just think “gosh wasn’t I lucky to find that” and I hope that other people can access things which have such a positive experience on their life really. That’s what I wish for them
Lynn runs a television company based in London and has a background in theatre. She attended some of our earliest shows including Laugh Lines and Gone Shopping, after being a fan of our work for a while she joined in as a participant during one of our London-based workshops in the late 1980s.
Lynn talked to us about how Spare Tyre impacted her in a way that college did not, and the importance of sharing stories through theatre.