Isaac: It was really important that we were not too pro, or not too anti, but to really give the audience the chance to think for themselves. And one of the main reactions to this piece is that people have been thinking about what does it mean, what does it mean to dictate the terms on how you want to die.
Sieska: We met at Vicky’s weekly and talked about things that we felt strongly about. I thought yes I can think of something I feel strongly about and that is assisted dying. Um, and when I was telling them about that this was something I had talked about with my husband I remembered this story of when I started to work for a voluntary organisation in Primrose Hill helping the elderly. Everybody said to me ‘isn’t it shocking about Charlotte’ and I didn’t know the story at all and so everybody told me, and I discovered that I actually had met Anita. I remember her not because I realised that she was going to commit suicide, or she was the person in the story, but because she was just so unhappy. And then we started doing research and discovered a lot of the things I thought about the story were actually not true, the basis was but none of the detail.
Vicky: When I read Charlotte’s statements, they were just so completely rich and full of humour, it was a very tragic story, it was a very complicated story, and on its own would have just stood as the most amazing piece of theatre. But…one of our group left, and we invited Rick to come in with us, a former drama teacher himself…
Rick: As the process went along we decided that rather it being a fictionalised version we would try and stay as close as possible to the original material, so as much as possible we’ve tried for it to be a piece of verbatim drama. Now that is quite difficult to do because real life isn’t shaped in the way that drama is. Isaac, in a moment of genius I think, actually decided that there would be more than one Charlotte and there would be more than one Anette, and that was for practical reasons because I think if that hadn’t happened the part of Charlotte would have been daunting, would have been far too big for anybody to learn really. But it also has got an artistic reason as well because it means that, what its really saying by having multiple actors playing the same part is that anybody could be in that situation.
Linda: Caught up in being Charlotte, you know actually being that person. She’s a little bit ditzy and she feels completely innocent at the beginning of the story, you know she doesn’t expect to be arrested, she doesn’t expect to go to prison that’s for sure. So she’s quite relaxed about it, she talks about it quite freely, you know, she doesn’t feel guilty, she doesn’t feel that she’s done something bad. You know she’s been true to herself and her word, she did what she was asked to do.
Cordelia: We found out that Charlotte Hough’s daughter was Deborah Moggach, and I think it was Sieska and Vicky who went to see her and she supplied masses of information. And so it gradually developed, it just opened like a flower, it was amazing, really amazing.
The fact that we’re a group of older people acting this is also significant because its highly likely that one or more of us will be in this position in the years to come.
Isaac: I’m thinking I’m really proud of them. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got to offer.
Exploring the moral complexities of assisted dying, The Promise is a play based on real events that took place in Camden in the 1980s. This five-minute film provides an insight into the behind-the-scenes process of creating this challenging play.
Co-produced by us and SilverSage, a group of actors aged 60+ who first met while working on Spare Tyre productions before deciding to form their own theatre company. The Promise is their first play, it premiered at New Diorama theatre as part of our Invisible Women Festival in February 2018.
Trailer filmed and edited by Three Blokes Productions.