Dawn is a bit of a hybrid among Rep members. Where the majority of people are happy either on stage, backstage or front of house, she has never been able to confine herself to one area of this absorbing, collaborative adventure that is THEATRE. That’s why she is a familiar face on stage with a prop, in the workshop with a paintbrush and in the bar with programmes in hand!
Dawn has played a variety of acting roles since her Rep debut as Lydia Lubey in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at our old Beresford Street home in 1995. Over the course of 27 years, she has played a social worker, maid, housekeeper, washerwoman, singing rabbit, aspiring author, old lady, Victorian narrator, squirrel (the last four being all in one play!), nurse, princess and a host of girlfriends, mistresses, aunties and wives. More memorable, challenging performances include flamboyant, tango performing socialite Lady India in Ring Round The Moon, hay fever suffering tap dancer Dorothy in Stepping Out, clean freak and murderer’s wife Marjory in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologue The Outside Dog and bereaved lesbian lover Rose in Five Blue Haired Ladies Sitting On A Green Park Bench.
A Modern Foreign Languages teacher in real life, Dawn has enjoyed the opportunity to cultivate accents on stage including R.P English (posh!), Italian, Liverpudlian, general “northern”, American and more recently Cornish, as feisty housekeeper Dorcus in Ladies in Lavender in 2019.
All of the fun I’ve had treading the boards I owe to the expert direction of some inspiring directors and a host of talented cast and crew members, some of whom have become lifelong friends.
Over the same 27 years, her creative vision and love of slapping on paint have been indulged in a variety of set designs and creative opportunities. From homes, garages, gardens and hotels, to period settings, barns, indoor and outdoor scenes, Dawn says
I’ve had the time of my life collaborating with our talented, dedicated stage crew to create mini worlds from page to stage. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ called for a set built of primary coloured building blocks, with cartoon-drawn furniture, while Cemetery Club demanded research into Jewish headstones and our dining room full of bin bags of autumn leaves carefully preserved till opening night!
Dawn’s all-time favourite design, for The Ladykillers, was constructed entirely at a sloping angle, to recreate “Mrs Lopsided’s” rickety house. The split-level set incorporated old, temperamental pipes with running water, falling shelves and ornaments, train smoke billowing through a sash window, a collapsing chimney stack, a blinding light through a railway tunnel and the drop of a signal to accompany every gory death! The hours of blood, sweat, tears and dedication from the entire backstage team in bringing such sets to fruition is not to be underestimated!
Dawn’s involvement in our forthcoming production of Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen has been twofold. Again, she had the chance to cover herself in paint and sawdust in the workshop to design and help create a 1960s hanging cell, Lancashire pub and greasy Joe café. Prior to the pandemic, she was also given the chance to take her first tentative steps into directing, as assistant to top director and friend, Diana Halstead. However, as the production was postponed first time round and Diana has moved out of the area in the intervening 2 years, she now find herself actually in the director’s chair!
In her own words:
I am indebted to a talented, enthusiastic band of actors and crew who have made my first foray into directing such an enjoyable one.
In this hard-hitting piece of theatre, McDonagh examines justice, human nature and a slice of British legal and social history, shifting between moments of laugh out loud comedy, suspense and terror with masterful ease – come and see it if you dare!
When she is not busy at the Rep, teaching part time at The Discovery Academy and the Sixth Form College or taking part in local church activities, Dawn share my life with hubby Rob, the most patient of men, and her Staffy and Jack Russell, Izzy and Belle.