Norwich pensioners domestic violence play
A group of four pensioners who live in the Ashby Court sheltered scheme on Ashby Street in Norwich city centre have recorded a radio play highlighting domestic violence within older relationships.
They are part of a group of 15 amateur actors aged 60 and over called the Ashby Court Entertainers who have been putting on plays, musicals and pantomimes for ten years. The 25 minute production called ‘Ruby Wedding’ was aired on community radio station, Future Radio on 107.8fm on Sunday June 14, 2015 at 4pm and repeated on Tuesday June 16, 2015, and is e available to listen to on-line at www.futureradio.co.uk.
The play was written and co-produced by local playwright, Ruth Bennett, who has herself suffered domestic abuse. It is set at a ruby wedding anniversary party for Donald and Joan arranged by the couples’ daughter, who is unaware that her father, a former army officer and retired headteacher, has become abusive towards her mother since he gave up work. The couple are played by Harry Grieveson aged 79 and June Simpson aged 80. Their daughter is played by Barbara Grigg aged 70 and family friend George is played by Richard Alden aged 71.
The play was also co-produced by Sheila Moore, Sheltered Housing Officer for Cotman Housing Association, a member of Places for People, who own and manage Ashby Court. Sheila founded the group in 2005 and came up with the idea of doing their first radio play.
Sheila, who retires at the end of June, but has vowed to continue running the Ashby Court Entertainers as a volunteer said: “We are very excited about how this has turned out and we’re hoping to tackle a range of other issues include coming out as gay in later life, scams, depression and loneliness. We desperately need funding so we can continue to work with Future Radio to make radio plays and reach a wider audience. I think that if people hear these sorts of messages from people who are older themselves it is far more powerful and hopefully they are more likely to listen and seek help.
“We’ve been going ten years now and some of the group have been with us from the beginning. Nobody had acted or performed before in their lives and now everyone thoroughly enjoys it and can’t wait for the next production. We’re doing the Sleeping Beauty pantomime next. We can’t thank Future Radio enough for their support, and we hope, subject to funding, this is the start of a long and successful relationship.”
Daniele Fisichella, station manager at Future Radio said: “At Future Radio we are delighted to have provided Cotman Housing residents with the opportunity to have fun, produce a very interesting play and experience something new. I have seen how excited the authors of the play were when they came to record in our studios in Motum Road. Knowing that Future Radio has enabled a group of elderly residents to have a good time and increase their confidence is a feeling second to none. Giving local people something to look forward to and scope to engage with a new activity is one of the reasons why community radio exists and will continue giving voice to different communities across Norwich. I hope our listeners enjoy 'Ruby Wedding' and it will help Leeway raising more awareness on the subject of domestic abuse.”
The play is also supported by domestic abuse charity, Leeway, and Age UK.
Ashby Court Entertainers meet every Wednesday afternoon and the group is open to residents and non-residents aged 60 and above. For more information about joining the group or offering sponsorship or funding, contact Sheila Moore on 01603 767035.
Harry Grieveson and June Simpson are pictured.