Open Mic Theatre

York International Women's Week 2020

Real People Theatre in collaboration with York Spoken Word hosted an "open mic" anchored by set pieces on the theme of how climate change is causing us to re-think our attitude to how we live on this planet.

"Bring your poetry, prose, songs, stories, hopes and fears to share or just come and listen.
Plenty of audience discussion ensured.
All welcome." Directed by Rose Drew.

FRIDAY 13 March 7-9pm + SATURDAY 14 March 2-4pm
Theatre 1, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 7EX

£2/or donation to the Real People Theatre charity



York International Women's Week 2019 - this was our 20th annual production!

What does resilience mean to you?

....something we need
both personally & globally
in today's uncertain times....

childhood memories from World War II
ancestors who settled in New Zealand
African women's resilience
an art project by Indigenous Canadian women
the life challenges faced by a woman from India
marriage conflict with the audience interventions
a Jewish refugee family and how to keep calm
and courteous as a cyclist !

Friday 1st March 19 (7.30-9.30pm)
Saturday 2nd March 19 (2-4pm)
Quad South Hall, York St John, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 7EX
Tickets on the Door £6 (£5 concession)



ageing without children

through choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement or distance

No we're not kidding - we're giving a voice to the millions of older people who are ageing without the support of children - ageing at home alone...not knowing who to call when in sudden need of a helping hand. It's all part of the loneliness and isolation which is so prevalent in today's society. Ten scenarios are available to springboard discussion at conferences, board meetings, workplaces - a chance to get both head and heart engaged.

(created for York International Women's Week 2018)

AWOC York is a monthly group started in Jan. 2016 with speakers exploring what can be done to help older people to cope with and plan for a future on their own.

all enquiries to Sue Lister 01904 488870
AWOC York Coordinator & RPT Artistic Director


Real People Theatre


As part of the York 50+ Festival 17, and with extracts from the show created for York International Women's Week in March 2017, More Food for Thought was an interactive presentation by the Real People Theatre Company. How do we feel about factory farming, plastic oceans, soil erosion, organic produce and how much can we rely on farmers and supermarket chains for healthy food? What can we do about all this? Contact: Sue Lister 01904 488870

2.30 - 4.30 pm
Priory Street Centre

15 Priory Street

FREE event with collection for the York Food Bank


Real People Theatre


for York International Women's Festival 2017

A feast of ideas, flights of fancy, fishy stories, and discussions about animals as companions, animals as food, animals in the wild, not forgetting the busy bees, birds, and life in the rivers and oceans...
...a wide-ranging exploration of our relationship with our fellow creatures.
This was the Real People Theatre’s
18th consecutive year as part of YIWF at York St John.

2 P E R F O R M A N C E S

Friday 10th March 7.30pm & Saturday 11th March 2pm
Theatre 1, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 7EX
Tickets on the door: £6 (£5 concession)

Enquiries: Sue Lister 01904 488870



Real People Theatre

Changed My Life

Suddenly nothing is the same...what happened...
examinations passed or failed, body image becomes an issue,
parents die, a housewife becomes a landlord,
how skills survive mental health setbacks, challenging cancer and dementia,
walking on fire!
Attitudes, behaviour, beliefs are changed forever.

These life-changing stories were shared and discussed in the 17th production
by the Real People Theatre for York International Women's Festival.

2 P E R F O R M A N C E S
for York International Women's Festival 2016

Monday 14th & Tuesday 15th March 2016, 7.30 - 9 pm
Theatre 1, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 7EX
Tickets on the door: £6 (£5 concession)

Enquiries: Sue Lister 01904 488870



The Real People Theatre Company


An exploration of death & dying

for York International Women's Week 2015

The one thing we can be certain of in life is that death, sometime, somewhere, is part of it. The challenge is - coming to terms with this. We are a women's theatre company based in York and we want to look at death and dying from women's points of view.

We have created a collage of poetry, drama, music, song and audience interaction on the theme of death and dying.

Pro and con, religious and non - sharing the human experience of living and dying.
It can be empowering. All welcome!

Real People Theatre performed EXIT as part of
the 2015 York International Women's Week
Theatre Studio 3, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York

and SATURDAY 14 MARCH 2 pm
at the Priory Street Centre, Priory Street, York
in support of Healthwatch York

Tickets on the door £5 (£4 concession)

The show was revived for the BEFORE I DIE festival on Sat. 23 May


The Real People Theatre Company


for York International Women's Week 2014

Sue Lister will be directing the 15th consecutive Real People Theatre production for York International Women's Week 8 - 15 March 2014. Anne Lister's diaries from the early 19th century reveal her intimate liaisons with other women. The Real People Theatre will be creating scenes from her times to the present day exploring how society's attitude to lesbian relationships has changed over the years. Helena Whitbread who decoded the diaries and has published 2 books will be sharing her knowledge with us and Jan Bridget will be facilitating audience discussion on the history and changing nature of women's relationships.

Monday & Tuesday 10th & 11th March
7.30 pm
Theatre Studio 3, Quad South, York St John University
Lord Mayor's Walk, YO31 7EX
Tickets £7 (£5 conc) on the door
Phone Sue Lister on 01904 488870

We also performed at SHIBDEN HALL, Halifax
for their Anne Lister Weekend
Sunday 29 June 2014, 2 pm

Hosted by the Calderdale Museums Trust we played to a full house
and a fine time was had by all.



created for York International Women's Week 2013

Using 3 statues of a mother and daughter responding as best they can:
on diagnosis
living with dementia
last stages in a care home
Sharing their inner thoughts and feelings at each stage and then inviting audience members to step into their shoes and share how they might respond.

This sharing of life experiences, insight and feelings can act as a springboard for discussion and learning, foster a greater awareness of personal responses to dementia and provide positive ways of living and dealing with it. It can be used either as a presentation or as a workshop with peers, staff or public - for empowerment, training, or awareness raising. Available for booking from March 2013.
Real People Theatre also has a selection of life stories (Paper Bag People) and a selection of forum theatre scenes (Encounters) to offer. See below. We are creative and flexible and can tailor-make something to suit your needs.
Please contact Sue to discuss booking possibilities: 01904 488870.


created for
York International Women's Week 2012


Through life stories, poetry and audience discussion we look at why so many women hide part of themselves for fear of prejudice and social exclusion - it's as if they wear paper bags which mask the 'shameful' parts. Why is this necessary in today's society? What is so shameful about having mental health problems, being a lesbian, suffering from domestic violence, being prey to an addiction or having a hidden disability? When will it be safe to come out...?

This show was part of York International Women's Week and is available for booking from March 2012 onwards for workshops, peer empowerment, staff training, conferences, and events where discussion of these issues is a key factor. Let us know your needs and we will tailor a presentation to support your work - through life stories, poetry and forum theatre (see Encounters below).

Phone Sue Lister, Artistic Director, to discuss possibilities: 01904 488870


A Forum Theatre Production
created for York International Women's Week 2011

A homeless older woman pauses to rest on a step in front of a souvenir shop. How do the passers by and the shop owner react?

A woman with a learning difficulty dreams of travelling in Europe. How do her support worker and the supervisor deal with this idea?
A woman with a history of bipolar applies for a job as a tutor in Health Sciences at a university. Is she a suitable applicant? What sort of job is she fit to do?

An ageing woman in a care home has motor neurone disease and wants help to die…but her partner, a woman, is dead. What are the prejudices she faces in order to have her wishes met?

A well-educated refugee from Nigeria and her children find themselves housed on a Peckham council estate next door to a BNP supporter and a Jamaican woman who has worked all her life in the NHS. How can they survive prejudice from both sides?
Each of these scenes is available as a springboard for future awareness raising, conferences, workshops, or peer empowerment. The Real People Theatre can also work with client groups to tailor-make appropriate scenes for use with peers or for staff training. Consider making good use of this York women's company to further your own work. Artistic Director, Sue Lister, welcomes your interest:




Drama Studio 2, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk,
York YO31 9EX

Workshops £5 each or £12 for all three. Book in advance 01904 488870

10.30 - 12.00

1 - 2.30

3.00 - 4.30

Pauline Kirk

Sue Lister

Rose Drew


Catching the Spark - finding inspiration

Bringing Poetry to Life - lifting words from the page

Poetry as Performance - presenting your poem




A light-hearted look at life's rich pageant

TUESDAY 10 MARCH 2009 7.30 pm

Drama Studio 2, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO31 9EX

Tickets on the door £5 (£4 concession) or phone 01904 488870


This was the Real People Theatre's 10th production for International Women's Week at York St John's - a milestone to be celebrated! For the 4th year we opened the door to poets and storytellers, singers and dancers, actors and comedians - all we asked was that wit, fun, humour and quirkiness took to the stage. And they did - thanks to Helen Burke, Carol Coiffait, Lizzi Linklater, Ann Murray, Paula St Aves, and Jannah Warlow. Sue Lister directed again and this time threw in a Spike Milligan monologue! A fine time had by all...




A QUESTION OF POWER is the title of a 3-year series of productions presented by the Real People Theatre Company in collaboration with women from different cultures and organisations.

The aim is to explore the nature of power, both personal and global, through the eyes of women for 3 consecutive International Women's Week celebrations.

Your participation is both welcome and vital to the success of the project.......!


York St John College

Saturday 11 March 2006

Saturday 10 March 2007


Saturday 8 March 2008 (see below)

Individual scenes from each production will be available for workshops & conferences throughout the following year.

Phone: Sue Lister 01904 488870

Programme for 2006

1. Hothouse, a one-act play by Clare Shaw, an allegory on global warming set in an ordinary office where it seems to be getting hotter and hotter (a Real People Theatre production)

2. Ring of Fire, a dance piece by the York St John student company, 103 Falling Birds

3. Lady Conversation, a video extract from Margaret Cavendish's "Lady Contemplation" introduced by Gweno Williams of the Centre for Excellence

4. Abigail Bailey - readings from the diary of an 18th Century New Hampshire farmer's wife with 14 children & an abusive husband

5. Poetry by American and Taiwanese women

6. Reluctant Departure, a story about the forced 'regeneration' of northern cities and the effect on elderly people who have lived there all their lives

7. Songs & Readings about an arranged marriage and the death of a beloved grandmother.

Programme for 2007

Christine Vogt-Williams lost her voice and couldn't sing for us but delivered her pieces with great aplomb. Rose Drew's memorable poems were performed with her usual flair and Tanya Parker presented powerful poems by herself and Pauline Kirk. We were treated to a dramatic story by Hannah Davies, a description of walking on fire by Ann Murray and Sandie Dennison came up from London to share her poetry with us. Margy Vernon introduced us to 5 Palestinian women and Sue slipped onto the stage at the end to present a poem by Andy Humphrey about the statue of Alison Lapper in Trafalgar Square.


This year we aimed to IGNITE YOUR FIRE with salsa, song, drama, poetry, and storytelling. We experienced the highs and lows of being a woman in the current climate, facing the challenges of the 21st century at home and in the world - who are we and where are we going?!

SATURDAY 8 MARCH 2008, 2 pm and 7 pm


Tickets £5 (£4 conc) on the door

The Programme for 2008 included a warm up with salsa, a monologue by a bag lady, the poetry of Pauline Kirk and Tanya Parker, songs from Track 29 women's choir, a dialogue between a feminist and a chauvinist, a dramatic monologue on domestic violence, the story of Skeleton Woman, a short story about a possible nuclear power leak, and a slide presentation + poem entitled Think Green First.



by Deborah Catesby

"They'll be talking about this at their breakfast tables tomorrow morning!"


If you missed us last year, now is your chance to catch this lively show. Revamped, recast, re-produced without a "narrator" in sight, the Real People Theatre is proud to present a fresh look at that traumatic day in the lives of an ordinary family.

Six women and a vanishing cat. Two grandmothers and only one spare room. A rebellious teenager and her elder sister with a secret. After the show the audience questions the characters - experiences can be shared, attitudes challenged, lies confronted and mysteries solved.

A Real Treat for 2005!

Performances in York, Rotherham, Halifax and Helmsley



by Deborah Catesby

Take a family of women including grandmothers, a mother and teenagers, add a quirky cat and a long-estranged aunt and watch the sparks fly!

A READERS' THEATRE production with audience discussion after the show.


2 pm

York St John College Lord Mayor's Walk York

Tickets £4 (£3 conc) at the door or phone 01904 488870


Turning Points

Saturday 8 March 2003 2 - 4 pm

York St John College, Lord Mayors Walk, York

Turning points in women's lives

Fun and frolic, pride and passion

Audience participation in forum theatre

A chance to participate in turning points in women's lives - resisting peer pressure, dealing with bullies, surviving jealousy, deciding whether to leave your partner and children, how to cope with ageing parents - the times when your life takes a wholly new tack.

Tickets £4 (£3 concession) from Libertas or on the door

We devised forum theatre scenes for the Doncaster Women's Centre on domestic violence, and for the National Older Lesbian Conference in Leeds on jealousy.



Caught in mid-action when the spotlights come on, ordinary women's extraordinary lives are revealed.

Fact or fiction?

Your call.

After a sold out house at 2001's International Women's Week, the Real People Theatre presented a brand new show. Rising to dizzy heights under their parachute, a cast of 12 women from all over Yorkshire brought you stories and sketches from the sublime to the ridiculous as well as the skills of women in dance and song.

Colourful characters from Sinderella to the Bag Lady were on stage to amuse, confuse, give you food for thought and tickle your funny bone. This was a women's venture and we invited you to come and share a unique experience.

March 2002

(tickets available at the door)

Saturday 2 March, Square Chapel, Halifax 7.30 pm

Saturday 9 March, York St John College, York 3.00 pm

Saturday 16 March, The Library Theatre, Sheffield 7.30 pm

Saturday 23 March, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds 3.00pm



Extraordinary Women looked at traditional roles and contrasted these with the possibility of breaking free and learning to become truly extraordinary. Scripted entirely by Yorkshire women in workshops held over the course of a year, and with a cast of 10 women from all over Yorkshire, several of whom had never been on stage before, the show explored: * what it is to be a women * lesbian identity * how women live and love * family relationships * fantasies and fears * joys and challenges * times of trauma and depression * what makes women laugh * what makes women angry * dealing with prejudice * what changes women would like to see in the future.

The performance on 10th March 2001was a special preview for International Women's Week. It was a work in progress and feedback was welcomed in the discussion period after the show.



A play that made one lesbian, at least, totally visible. Despite 'the rules' and her lack of status in straight society, it was she who assumed power over life and death in the end. A poignant insight into our common humanity. From artichokes to Golden Eagles, through laughter and tears, the play moved to a powerful climax. Virginia found out what life and death have in common - love. There was a talkback session at the end of the show during the tour in 2000.

9 performances in Bradford, Halifax, Holmfirth, Rotherham and York


Current Productions