The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius

Actress Joanne Howarth's Theatrical Voyage from Youth Theatre to the Globe Theatre with Passion plus a self-confessed 'Geekery' for Shakespeare to Power & Inspire her Along the Way!

January 29, 2024 Chris Grimes - Facilitator. Coach. Motivational Comedian
The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius
Actress Joanne Howarth's Theatrical Voyage from Youth Theatre to the Globe Theatre with Passion plus a self-confessed 'Geekery' for Shakespeare to Power & Inspire her Along the Way!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Delighted to welcome Actress & Director Joanne Howarth to "The Good Listening To Show" Clearing. With many a Theatre & TV banger to her name, having performed at most of the major theatres in the land.  Including 3 seasons at the RSC, one highlight of which was "The Alchemist" with Hugh Bonneville & David Bradley. She also played on TV opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in "Wallander".

And we have history! Joanne and I met way back when at the Salisbury Playhouse in a production of "Custer's Last Stand", directed by previous Show Guest, Lucy Pitman Wallace.

Suffused with theatrical anecdotes and inspirations aplenty, Jo talks about  her personal ritual (for the last 20 years) of always finding solace and her 'serious happy place' in her "Morning Pages", a practice derived from Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way.  With treks through the South Downs near her home town of Brighton becoming her Clearing and her creative lab for untangling thoughts and mastering monologues.

We also venture into the rehearsal room, where the chemistry of artists & theatre companies like Complicité and Told By An Idiot ignite Joanne's craft, blending the physical with the poetic to create theatre that resonates long after the curtain falls.

Tales of inspiration, resilience, and the occasional happy distraction adorn this episode, painting a portrait of a life dedicated to the stage and to the magic and the sense of rich community that it can bring.

She pays tribute to her fellow community of Globe Education Practitioners (GEPs) for their unwavering support and inspiration in all that she does in her work.  Jo also delves into the societal impact of theatre and considers the enduring legacy of storytelling as a reflective mirror to our world

A wonderful and rich episode indeed!

You can also Watch/Listen to Joanne Howarth's episode here: https://vimeo.com/chrisgrimes/joannehowarth

Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.

Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)

Thanks for listening!

Speaker 1:

Welcome to another episode of the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes, the storytelling show that features the clearing, where all good questions come to get asked and all good stories come to be told, and where all my guests have two things in common they're all creative individuals and all with an interesting story to tell. There are some lovely storytelling metaphors a clearing, a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, some alchemy, some gold, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare and a cake. So it's all to play for. So, yes, welcome to the Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, chris Grimes, are you sitting comfortably here? Then we shall begin. Get quite literally in and welcome to a Facebook Live recording of the Good Listening To Show Stories of Distinction and Genius, the show in which I invite movers, makers, shakers, mavericks, influencers and also personal heroes into a clearing or serious happy place of their choosing to all share with us their stories of distinction and genius. And who better? Who qualifies with bells and whistles? This is the delightful actress. Joanne Howarth is in the clearing. Jo Howarth, you are extremely welcome. Thank you. Nice to be here Now. We have history in that way, way, way back when I was 20 years exactly. Chris, oh is it? Yeah, thank you for researching me. 94.

Speaker 2:

I didn't. I remember because I went on holiday to Australia straight afterwards, so I remember because of that.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it was Custer's last stand at the Salisbury Playhouse. Yeah, yes, you were playing Red Cloud, I seem to remember.

Speaker 2:

I couldn't remember which I was.

Speaker 1:

I've just checked your CV, thank you. I was General Terry and Custer's dog, obviously.

Speaker 2:

Of course you were yes.

Speaker 1:

That was groundbreaking. Thank you very much. Lovely, and talking of groundbreaking, you've got many, many theatrical and filmic and television bangers to your name Very impressively. I saw on your show you're playing opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in Wanda. You've been in the well the alchemist after well as part of three seasons at the RSC and that was with Hugh Bonneville and David Bradley. You're also wonderfully at the Globe Theatre as part of the Education Department often, and indeed oftentimes again, with Colin Hurley, who's also been a guest here, as has Carl Heap from the Medieval Players, who I know you've also worked with I think that was Piers the Plowman back in the day, yeah.

Speaker 2:

It was just before you.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and nearly finished playing. A bit of Happy Smirk at you. It's quite good fun Googling my guests before I start. And did you know that you've got a? Well, you've got some namesakes. There's somebody called Jo Happiness Haworth.

Speaker 2:

Yes, that's right.

Speaker 1:

She's a motivational speaker and director of happiness. And then you've got somebody who's a planet protector, who's trying to save us from styrofoam when used in manufacturing.

Speaker 2:

That's not bad actually.

Speaker 1:

For an extra £4.50, I could have got both of those together, but I decided to go for you because you're a wonderful, glorious actress. So you're very, very welcome, jo, thank you. So how you're about to start directing the Winter's Tale, I understand. So not only are you a director, you're also a director, and I know that obviously you work in that capacity within the Globe Theatre as well. So how's morale? What's your story of the day, please?

Speaker 2:

My story of the day. You are right, I'm about to direct Winter's Tale. It's a student. Most of my directing is with students these days. I just love that thing of introducing young people who've never done it before and aren't complete geeks and lovers of Shakespeare like I am, and hoping that at the end of three weeks with me there'll be geeks and lovers of it too. So yeah, in fact I've just been sitting with my feet up reading some academic studies on Winter's Tale so I can try and sound intelligent.

Speaker 1:

And where are we going to be doing this?

Speaker 2:

So it's with Rose Broughford's Foundation course in Brighton which is where I'm at.

Speaker 1:

Where do you train? Yes, your alma mater.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's where I trained. I trained in their Cid Cup Central, but I now live in Brighton and this is the final year they've had. For five years They've had a foundation course here in Brighton, which has been brilliant because for once I actually get to walk to work, because normally I'm on a train. I'm either staying somewhere or I'm on a train to London. So it's been a joy directing this project for the last five years, but they've just closed the course down, sadly, so this is my last one, but yeah, so they're all. It's their foundation course. So most of the young people are sort of gap year age. Yes, some of them have been to university and for most of them it's their first experience of doing more than monologues.

Speaker 1:

And what a profound life cycle that is, because you train there and then you're now sort of dropping the mic with their last ever production. Is that right?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's the last production of the foundation course. The college itself is storming ahead. It's just that they've decided to focus just on the CIDCUP college rather than shutting down the foundation courses which happen all over the country, which is sad, I think. But hey, they'll have their reasons. Yeah, but yeah, I love the fact that I'm back teaching. I mean, I've taught at Broughford a few times over the years, but I do love that. You know, that's where I kicked off.

Speaker 1:

And also lovely that I read also that you were the first ever in your school to join the drama club and Shakespeare was one of your first offers of a role. You played Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream. Yeah, I did.

Speaker 2:

I did, I did and that completely yeah, talking about formative things, you know that was amazing. Yeah, I completely fell in love with it and then whenever I studied it like we studied dancing in Cleopatra after that and I think because suddenly it made sense, because I'd taken it off the page I could sort of do that with Cleopatra. It's a brilliant thing.

Speaker 1:

Lucy Pittman Wallace has just been a guest recently in the last couple of months as well.

Speaker 2:

That's all she was doing.

Speaker 1:

And she obviously directed us both, but she took the passion for directing Shakespeare as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Wonderful, so I'm very excited there's going to be a through line of Shakespeare that might come through this as well. So welcome aboard. So I'm going to curate you through the normal curation of the journey, which is a clearing a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called five, four, three, two, one. There's some alchemy, some gold, a couple of random squiggles, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare, a golden baton and a cake. So it's absolutely all to play for. So Joe Ann Howard, or Joe is I'll now call you from now on. Where is what is a clearing for you? Where do you go to get clutter free, inspirational and able to think?

Speaker 2:

There's a few places. So actually the non physical space is that I do morning pages every morning and that, literally, is what clears my brain every morning and helps me focus. I'm now completely addicted to doing I don't know if you know about morning pages, but I do Julia camera, julia Cameron's book, the artist way it came from, which I went through the process of about 20 years ago, and the morning pages have stopped because it just really helps me clear out. I know the anxieties of the day before be grateful, great, you know, look at what was good, even if it was a shit day the day before, looking at what I can be grateful at, but also why the shit bits were shit, to sort of help me start from a clean place. So kind of literally actually every morning I do that, but I'm not inviting you to my bed to sit in there and do my morning pages with me, chris, just to be clear, yeah so, and so my, my happy place and the brilliant thing about living in Brighton and I'm sure I think you've probably heard this from Tim Crouch and various other Brightonians who you might have had on is the South Downs. I mean, it's part of the reason to live here is getting up on the South Downs. I love being at the top of a hill where you can see the sea in the distance and Just walking that path, and there's various points along it. I don't necessarily have a favorite spot, I just, but I do like walking. Yes you know, and if I'm learning lines, I go up there with my you know, I'll record my lines and put them in my headphones and I'll walk along talking to myself, looking out to see with the rhythm of my walking, to help me learn stuff. And you know, if I've got stuff to sort out, I'll sort it out. And if I've got a friend I need to sort something out with, I'll take him up there and we'll walk it out.

Speaker 1:

You know it's if in doubt, walking out is an adage I've often heard, actually yes, yeah. I love the fact that the morning pages has stuck with you for the last 20 years as being a sort of life Practice. Now, so, on the daily, every morning, without fail, you do your morning.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, occasionally, if I've got to be up really early, I'll do them on the train. Yeah, but usually I'll do them with the morning cup of tea. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So have we got a tome of, you know, thousands of journals lying around, that you well.

Speaker 2:

I write them. They're completely unreadable. That's part of it, um, so I burn them in the fire and actually I got I got an iPad you can draw on for Christmas, so I'm actually experimenting with writing them on the on the iPad. Typing doesn't work for me and then just I'm experimenting with writing on the iPad, so I'm not having to waste paper.

Speaker 1:

Although I love the, the ceremony of burning your yeah, dude, and burning, you know Just, it's always about future focus, then, and yeah, right to do the moment. Yes, I mean occasionally, I'll keep.

Speaker 2:

Actually there's a page which I'm really proud of. Occasionally I write short stories and if I've written one that I'm proud of a sort of stream of consciousness short story, if I've written one I'm proud of, or if something's come up, sometimes it does turn into lists got to say that if it's an important I'll put a little star at the top of the page and then I know when I'm about to burn them.

Speaker 1:

I go page to save so your morning page is allowed to be a shopping list if it needs to be. Is that well?

Speaker 2:

to be honest, chris, it's just this, you know, but I don't have a huge amount of discipline, so sometimes it goes in that direction.

Speaker 1:

Yes, no, I love that. And also you quite right. Tim Crouch Honed in on a particular bench that he's found, yeah down, and got very intrigued by the biography of the person whose plaque was on the on the bench right right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, actually I did watch Tim's and I have I don't know that bench, so I just think, oh, one day I'm gonna go and try and find that I'm going to see Tim show this week, I think so I can ask him where is.

Speaker 1:

Send in my very best, marvelous. So where they're on the south downs then, and you, maybe you've got a couple of journals of gratitude under your arm as we. Walk along. So I assume we're walking along in yeah, yeah, it's all right. Yeah, and I shall. Now, Who've majestically next to you with my tree, and now I'm gonna shake your tree to see which storytelling apples fall out. How'd you like these apples? And then this is where you've been good enough to crunch along on the construct of four things that have shaped you, joe house, three things that inspire you, two things that never fail to grab your attention is where they all squirrels, come in. And Then the one is a quirky, unusual fictor about you. We couldn't possibly know about you until you tell us. So you don't have to do that in a one-a. I'll talk you through it, but just just interpret the shaking of your canopy as you see fit, okay, so four things that have shaped you okay, I'm gonna start with Manchester and and that's.

Speaker 2:

I've never lived there, but my family goes back generations in Manchester and before, just before I was born, my parents moved down south and on my father's deathbed, when I asked what he was most proud of, I think leaving Manchester was one of the top things on his list. How? But I think you know, when they came down in the 1950s and I can remember it from a child because as a child we'd go there for a holiday Since they were the grandparents always. So I did spend a lot of time there as a kid and it was. I just remember it was bleak, you know a lot of. There were a lot of on-site still and it was dark and grubby and and to my parents it was like part of them wanting to kind of move on and do their own thing. Leaving Manchester was sort of an important part of that. But it's kind of interesting. I think it's only later in life that I've I don't know that I've realized how much, how kind of interesting it was that I sort of feel like there's no people say to me where are you?

Speaker 1:

from and.

Speaker 2:

I'm never quite sure what to say, because I don't feel like I'm from anywhere, because, but the family was definitely from Manchester, but we were living in Croydon and Croydon itself isn't you know, it's sort of on the edge of London and hasn't quite got its own identity as well.

Speaker 1:

So it's very relatable, by the way, and my own parents had a similar exodus from Middlesbrough for similar reasons. Yeah, yeah, I know that your dad was a sales rep for a Lancashire cotton mill. Yeah, so north as a sort of thing to be done.

Speaker 2:

I know it was and he had to go back to the mill quite often as well. So I think, when we went up for the holidays, he'd quite often go to work in the mill and you know touch base with his bosses and stuff. But he was there right down in London, so hence that that kind of connection. And mum came down and and worked until I was born and she was a cookery demonstrator. So she, she did that Stuff until I was born and then worked in nursery schools and things. So Manchester's very much in your DNA.

Speaker 1:

Even though you're, so, it's where you're from. Yeah, it is in my DNA, but I think more than anything.

Speaker 2:

It's. I suppose it's just representative that I know he. I kind of understand. I know there's that weird thing about being an immigrant, but I always felt like I was in the south. You know, I didn't like people take the piss out of my accent. Sometimes there were things I'd say which were very northern because I lived in a northern house, even though my parents were desperate to try and wipe their accents out because in the late 50s, early 60s, and northern accent Could stop you getting a job. Yes, in fact, interestingly, my mother became a bit of a higher synth bouquet and losing her middle.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, partly because of that idea of, yeah, that big risk.

Speaker 2:

Plastic and not plastic, because you would want to use the ass and and hadn't realized that that didn't count for plastics. Lovely so, and it's. It's interesting that it's all coming back to me now and I think that's why I thought about this. I don't know whether I said this a while ago. Is the in rehearsal rooms at the moment? It's not encouraged for you to use an accent that's not your own. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, you know that that thing of, I think, when I was younger. You know, learn as many character accents as you can and then, sort of, you know, pop them in, isn't you know? But it's, it's absolutely encouraged for you to be an accent. You know from where you're from and I and I I'm never quite sure what that is. I mean, clearly I've got one. I'm talking in it now, but I am a complete chameleon, and I was when I was little. I talks differently at school to how I talked at the grandparents house. I pick up people's accents and I still do. I'm dreadful at picking up, or dreadful or good, I don't know what it is, but I'm landing in with who I'm with, you know.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and being a chameleon is a brilliant testament to one's you know, to your capabilities as an actress to be able to just osmosis and blend in.

Speaker 2:

So I suppose that thing about things that made me is, I think part of what made me be an actress is that there's a little bit that I was doing that from when, like as soon as I started to talk.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I remember once being dragged out of the kitchen and told off by my mum. I must have been about 14 when my little brother bought a friend home who'd just come down from Preston and his mum had come to pick him up. And I walked in and started talking to her in a broad Preston accent which I'd never talked to in my life before and my mum thought I was taking the piss and her dragging me out and going God, sex, stop it.

Speaker 1:

Lovely. That's a great shapeage, by the way. So we know why Manchester's there. Have you ever worked at the Manchester Royal Exchange?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I love it and actually when I went to we used to visit the grandies, you know, in my teens and that was the really early days of the Royal Exchange. So I'd just go and sit in that amazing hallway and go. One day I want to work here and I've been there twice now and I absolutely love it. Dream.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's that venue and the Globe Theatre that I most envy in terms of an atmosphere from where you've worked. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm both in the round, so they both have that. I think both of them taught me things about each. You know, each venue taught me something about the other because of that, in the roundness of them, lovely.

Speaker 1:

Perfect, great shapeage number one please. So shapeage number two please.

Speaker 2:

Number two. I'm kind of doing this in order of age, I think, but Youth Theatre, youth Theatre is amazing. I mean I went, I joined Youth Theatre when I was 16 in Croydon and then the year later when I, a couple of years later, in my gap year, I joined two more. Because I did, I worked in London as a receptionist and joined two and just went to a Youth Theatre every night but the Royal Court and the cockpit. I went to those two. I did a summer in Youth Theatre and just like my little world of my little family in Croydon and Croydon-ness and that suburban-ness was like blown open, partly by the place and learning so much more, but partly the young people that I met from all sorts of different backgrounds. You know, some of the ones I met in London were terribly posh, or seemed it to me. You know they had parents who were university lecturers and all sorts of posh stuff like that, and you know. And then you know, but also you know, just kids of all different types all thrown in together, all with the common love of doing of theatre. And I mean I suppose at the moment I'm just so aware of Youth Theatre's all over the country having their funding cut. Yes, and each of those Youth Itters though on the whole they were run by volunteers but they still had funding to help them survive yes, and I just I think for so many young people it's just a brilliant place. You know, a few of us went on to be professionals, but most of those kids that I was with then have, you know, just kind of learned about communication and other people. I've still got a lot of my best mates as still people. I met them when I was 16. Yes, and we've all gone off into do different things. But I just think Youth Theatre is such an amazing thing and without that I don't know what I'd have done. I think I met professional actors then, of course, as well. So suddenly, that love I'd had of doing stuff in the school drama club which was, you know, quite definitely as the school told me and my parents told me, was not a job.

Speaker 1:

And, of course, the confidence and the social skills that we know it gives us is so precious and irreplaceable if it is lost, which is the tragedy, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Completely, and anyway, I just, you know you know, big up for youth theatre across the country. For, yeah, it was a big thing in my life, you know, in giving me confidence.

Speaker 1:

And a quick random question, because you mentioned Croydon you didn't happen to go to the Royal Russell School, did you?

Speaker 2:

No, I didn't.

Speaker 1:

Both my brother and sister went there to boarding school whilst we were living in Uganda, and it was just Croydon, and I never met Croydon and Royal Russell schools. Anyway, I just thought I'd right now.

Speaker 2:

I've a feeling I did once go and see one of their school plays, though. I think I did. I think I knew someone who went there. I think I saw a Julius Caesar, which was pretty interminable. From what I can remember, Quick stab him get it over with.

Speaker 1:

Go on, brutus. That's it Anyway.

Speaker 2:

shapeage number three please Shapeage number three. I'm going, sam Onamaker. So, and then, basically, this is the Globe story. I've been involved with the Globe since 1987, when Sam came to our equity local equity branch which met at the National Theatre, I was living in central London. Why then? Well, living in Deppford, that's not really central London, it's central compared to where I am now. Sam came to see if some actors would help him out by doing a little bit of street theatre on the building site to let people know that something was going to happen and that he was trying to get permission from Southwark Council to build the theatre. And a little gang of us went down and the rest is history. I'm still there, you know, I'm teaching there this weekend. He's that project and the energy, and there's a mate up there in this core team, him and Patrick Spotterswood, who was his assistant at that point and then became the head of education and really for years was my mentor over time of teaching me. You know, I just learned so much in that place. I've travelled the world with that place as well. You know, I've taught in China and America and I've travelled in shows to Brazil and Uruguay, and you know. So, apart from just learning, a whole new relationship to theatre and space that that gives you with the daylight playing and the size of the place. I love that building. I absolutely love it and the people in it. It's shifted and changed over the years and, of course, with each change of artistic director and each change of staff in the education department. Because, yeah, I am, I probably have been there one of the longest people ever.

Speaker 1:

But you know, I'm not there all the time.

Speaker 2:

I'm in and out. It's like a home. I don't know whether I'd still be an actor if I didn't have that, If I hadn't had that place over the years as a kind of home to go back to and to you know, I can walk in the door and the security guards go.

Speaker 1:

Joe, how lovely A homecoming. Yeah, you're walking around almost in the circle of the foundation stones at the beginning is fantastic yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, we, um, yeah, we were very sad the other day because Benjamin's F and I died because of the grand opening in 1988 when Judy Dench came with a digger to dig a hole and start off the building. Um, we did a little bit from midsummer night stream and Benjamin did some poetry and we've got some lovely pictures from back then, that which we found and put on the on the globe website thing, facebook page, whatever social media yeah, and is that where you met Colin Hurley, by the way, who's been a previous guest to?

Speaker 1:

He's my favorite. I did actually.

Speaker 2:

So I met Colin before that. Actually, I've met Colin originally with youth theater, but I neither of us quite remembered that. But we were both at the same youth theater festival in Leicester back in 1977. Um, but we met in Ipswich at the Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, when I was doing a TIE tour of Mary Mariah Martin in the red barn, I think it was Um, and he was doing David Copperfield or one of those. Dickens. I can't remember which Dickens he was doing. He was in one of. We met then and he was a little babyface boy. He was very babyface when he was young. Quite funny thing the hairy beast he is now. And then he joined the globe. He joined the globe mid nineties probably, I think, and we've worked together ever since. The China trip was me and Colin we went out to be advisors on a Chinese production of the fellow that was a cool trip.

Speaker 1:

I met him at the Salisbury Playhouse, which is where I met you originally, but that was through him being Hamlet and I was Polonius and the Gravedigger to his Hamlet oh brilliant, brilliant. Brilliant and what an astonishing Hamlet he was, hurrah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, he's a great and very inspiring chap.

Speaker 1:

Yes, he's got a real sort of Anthony Hopkins-esque quality to him, I think.

Speaker 2:

I never thought about that.

Speaker 1:

but yeah, and by the way, you remind me of Maxine Peak. Do you get that a lot? Yeah, I do yes, it's a real compliment because I'm quite a bit older than her.

Speaker 2:

So actually I probably am. I don't know how flat it should be. Actually, when I was working at the old Vic, I was doing that Glenda Jackson's King Lear and she was doing something in the studio space and the producers got this mad thing that we had to meet, which was actually quite nice. So there is a picture of me and Maxine standing next to each other, with her looking slightly quizzical about it, but she was lovely as they're going.

Speaker 1:

Look, there's somebody who looks just like you and this old bird walks in Lovely sky.

Speaker 2:

I often wonder because she's. Manchester, that maybe with me with all those way generations going back from Manchester-ness we could be related way back, who knows.

Speaker 1:

Yes, love that. This is the fourth shape page now, I think.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, fourth shape page, theos of complicity, just far shaping me as an actor. I think I had it. I did some. Well, I went to see them quite. I think my training was very Stanislavski. Know the rules, do your? You know it was quite heady and I know when I was at drama school I got quite tied up in knots about that which. But when I left and I worked with other companies I learned to kind of to use that in a way that I needed to, without getting too looked up in my head. But what was really interesting when I went to used to go and see complicit days work and that incredibly inventive, physical, especially in the early days in the eighties, that kind of physical clowning which I always thought wasn't me but absolutely, you know, always overwhelmed by their creativity. And then I got in about it was about 91, I think I got to do, yeah, jasper Britton, I'd just been working with Jasper and Jasper was doing the visit with them at the National, which was amazing, amazing piece of theatre, and he, they were doing development on their next production which was Street of Crocodiles. Oh, yes, which was just amazing. Anyway, he invited me, introduced me to Simon McBurney and I did two weeks of development with them on that and then after that, always when I was feeling like I needed a boost in my creativity or whatever, I'd go and sign up and do workshops with them as a separate from that. I also met people on that who became told by an idiot. So I know, told by an idiot. I've worked with quite a bit since, but it completely transformed my way of teaching, and particularly teaching, I think, but also in acting. I think it just sort of of just that, yeah, of working physically, of connecting language to the body. That language and the body are the same thing. Yes, and that's all the time when I'm teaching Shakespeare, it's all about for me getting it out of your head and into your body and to feelings, to feeling it, yeah, to feel it. But feel what the sound does to you, feel what you know. So your storytelling it from inside and that kind of connection and just the courage and the bravery, that amazing I mean quite a few of the people on that workshop I did in 91, all that time ago, you know still kind of come. You know, catherine Hunter, you know there are all sorts of people who are still working with them now. I know. I've just seen recently in there driving a plow over the bones of the dead. There are a few people.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I saw that as well. Amazing stuff and, as you say, it's almost like a factory default resetting of creativity. Is it going to see what complicit power?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So I think always, always, if I'm and it's still the case if I'm feeling a bit kind of stodgy or I've got a bit stuck in things, I'll kind of go back and see where they're, you know, go and see their stuff again or re-explore things, or or even look. They have amazing teaching resources in their online websites which are brilliant to go back and look at and explore as well, and I think it really changed. It changed me as a teacher, but I think also changed me as a performer and and the opportunities that I then had in working. I haven't ever worked with them, I've only ever workshopped with them, but working with a told by an idiot was who I I met through them and and how you know.

Speaker 1:

Similarly, kind of have that LeCoc, which was very different to my training, and that was Toby Sedgwick. Is that right? Have I got the name right? Was that told by an idiot?

Speaker 2:

Toby, no, paul Hunter. It's Paul Hunter and Hayley Carmichael who had told by an idiot, toby Sedgwick actually Toby wasn't on that workshop, though he does work a lot with complicity he didn't do that workshop that I was on. Then it was Simon McBurney and Marcello Magni who we lost last year. Yes, it was really sad, yeah, and Catherine Hunter and those, yeah, that those, that team, amazing, yeah. So I just think the things that shaped me I wasn't sure to put that in the inspire or the shape and I thought actually, any overlap is completely fine and they're both rich, for both the same reason, actually, but it was early on and I think it did shape me as as what I as for me as an actor, so wonderful shapeages, thank you, and now three things that inspire you, joe Howarth. So inspire me. It's, I feel a bit like I'm following on from. I sort of I looked at this as inspired and then so it's a bit following on from before. So I actually I've got a huge list and I'm going which one now. But I think actors who do that very thing I just talked about, of letting the words kind of become them Of, of, particularly with Shakespeare, which I love and that's my, you know, I mean I don't do it. Well, actually I do quite a lot of new writing, but of course I'm about to go into directing Winter's Tale. So that's when my head is a little bit at the moment. So, starting off, when I was 17, I went to see Derek Jacobi's Hamlet and went, consequently, in my gap year in between going to youth theaters. I went to see it six times and just it was just. I mean I thought he was amazing and I love being in this amazing. It was the old Vic theater, but but I was just completely drowning in those amazing words, just brilliant. And then, interestingly, just recently, as I said, I did Glenda Jackson's King Lear, which you know I was playing third servant, the one that helps pokes Gloss de Zey's out, but you know, had a tiny part but was sort of I was sort of wanting to be there to see her it was her first thing that she was doing after she'd been in MP for 25 years and kind of coming back in and watching her, watching her find the power of those words, she was amazing. And then actually every night, the scene in the in the hovel she I had I was holding the wheel, all the actors were holding spotlights on things in the darkness and I had my spotlight on her, and so every night I was doing this kind of close up watching of her process, of her, like just being those words just amazing. So I think I think actors that can do that. That is so it's so inspiring to me to remind me of never short changing it, you know of, really, yeah, letting it work and helping them. For me, as a teacher, creating the circumstances in which other people can do that.

Speaker 1:

And did you ever get up close to Derek Jacobi to tell him how much you'd enjoyed watching him?

Speaker 2:

Well, I did reach the stage because every time I went to see it I went and stood at the stage door with my program. I can't have bought a program every time I think sometimes it was the back of a notebook because I wasn't earning very much as a receptionist. Programmes are the cost they are. Now I clearly didn't have a program every time. Yeah, so we reached the stage and we go. Oh, it's you again. Lovely. But actually I did see him. What did he actually, when I directed much do about nothing at the Globe? He was the guest of honor, not through me, through somebody else, but then he rushed off afterwards and I wanted to go.

Speaker 1:

But but it's me and I'm doing this.

Speaker 2:

It's all because of you.

Speaker 1:

Oh, it's much to do about nothing, don't worry. Ok, wonderful.

Speaker 2:

So second thing that inspires you Second, I've got, I've got um gaps. So a gap is a globe education practitioner, A gap, OK yeah.

Speaker 1:

Mind the gap, mind the gap, which is Mind the gap.

Speaker 2:

Yes, mind the gap. So gaps the gaps. I can't. So actually I was thinking about what literally inspires me and what helped me get through COVID and what so? Globe education practitioners so the people actually and faculty, because there's two departments there's higher education, which I work for mainly now, and the learning department of the Web Schools. But over the years lots and lots of people have talked at the Globe and we have a WhatsApp group and the WhatsApp group just gets bigger and bigger. But what an inspiring bunch of people. I mean, to be honest, they're all anoraks like me you know, they can.

Speaker 1:

everybody, you know everybody's a geek Theatre geek, but particularly Shakespeare geeks Like a Shakespeare spotter, like a train spotter, but with Shakespeare.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So Colin Hurley is a get you know who we talk about. He's a. He's a tip top get you know. He's so. Whenever we're stuck or we need inspiration or we've suddenly got this project, whether it's something we're performing and doing ourselves, or it's something that suddenly we've been thrown to teach a group of that we've never thought about teaching before, and or a play that we don't really know very well, you just put a thing on that WhatsApp group and the most amazing collection of of inspiration and ideas comes your way.

Speaker 1:

And like what's that group? I'd be one to one to get crash. I think the gift, the gift.

Speaker 2:

So that, and also I've just done it. I just did a session with them on stage. A lot of new people have joined since COVID and I did a session with them on the stage a couple of weeks ago. I led it on our stage to sort of see what we learned from it and what that space does. And just talking about inspiration, I suppose that space inspires me as well, but we're probably getting sick to death of the globe already.

Speaker 1:

Definitely a soul chime. I'm getting with the globe. Shakespeare's Theatre in the Round.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, but I had to mention them because they are so inspiring and there are so many times when I've just gone I don't know what to do. Ah, you know, and then those ideas come in and then take you down off another path of things that you can explore.

Speaker 1:

It's lovely to know where your goldmine of creativity is whenever you need to plug back into it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and they won't go. You what? Because everybody is as Anoraki as me. Lovely.

Speaker 1:

Third Shepich.

Speaker 2:

Third Now I'm looking at a list now because I just I wasn't quite sure things that inspire me. So I've actually written but it seems a bit similar this, but I've written actors again Actually, but it's no. Actually I'm gonna go for this one the people that inspire me, but I feel like I don't do it enough. So we've done quite a lot of actors, but it's actually people who stand up to power for justice. I admire that. I'm quite often keep my mouth shut and try and find quiet ways of doing things, but I really do admire people within theater or within life who stand up for justice and in all sorts of ways. You know whether it's on marches or being articulate enough to talk about that stuff. When something really matters to me, I tend to just get very tearful and a bit inarticulate, because you're feeling it, the words make you feel it, and then you're feeling it, yeah, yeah. So I love and I always did, and when I was younger, the early theater that I did well, I did a lot of political theater and I suppose I feel that that's what for me that I can do is. I love working with new writers, looking at working on theater that makes people think about the world they live in and about our responsibility to it and to each other. And it's not in a galactic way, but in a way that theater can you know, of helping people understand the way other people live, and indeed I was gonna say that is Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Speaker 1:

and to show us to her the mirror up to nature.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, no, it's true, exactly yeah, which and actually when I'm working on Shakespeare, I love the fact. Very often it breaks open those conversations, even though it's 400 years old. But I mean he did that. He wrote the stories he wrote, because to actually directly confront things that were happening politically would have been dangerous. So you look at sometimes you're looking at things from a history story, and likewise that's the case now when you play those plays or work with new writers. So I mean, actually one of the things I was gonna say is writers. You know, I've just done this amazing play about Falklands Wall at the RSC. I spent last summer doing, and that's where you played Margaret Thatcher, wasn't it?

Speaker 1:

Yes, I did. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That was kind of. Who'd have thought that? Eh, who'd have thought I'd have actually been playing her when I spent most of the eighties trying to bring her down with comedy. Hey, I don't know whether we helped, but she went in the end. Yeah, I did. That was kind of cool, yeah. So, yeah, I'm working with the writer on that. Looking at telling the story, I mean, we were telling the story of the Islanders and we had worked with a lot of South American people in the room as well, looking at the, so that we were really telling everybody's story, the Argentinians as well. But the ordinary people, the people that were caught up in it, yes, and it's, I suppose, yeah, what I'm saying about people who can kind of confront stuff. There's my I'm admiring that, I suppose. In my way, I kind of felt I'm doing it in the way I can do it. It's being part of that and the amount of people that came to stage door who were sort of in tears at their story being told and feeling that they've been, yeah, in tears in the right way.

Speaker 1:

Yes, so they'd been a catharsis in the right way, being realised as a story.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, which was good, really good, and you know, whenever I've been in a play that I feel like has helped people move on in their story, yeah, good.

Speaker 1:

And now we're onto the squirrels, the two squirrels. What are your monsters of distraction? What never fails to grab your attention, irrespective? Oh, I see you've got your own branded bottle there. It says Joanne A. Oh yeah, that's from Liverpool, Everyman.

Speaker 2:

They gave us all a bottle Joanne H.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you're thinking.

Speaker 2:

It's got that E&P every man in Playhouse.

Speaker 1:

but Lovely segue. That was a bit of a side BELL RINGS. We went down a rabbit hole of looking at a water bottle. So that was a squirrel. So, yes, what are your squirrels of distraction? Mine are obviously water bottles with your name on them.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's interesting as to whether a squirrel is a good thing or a bad thing, but literally something. When I'm walking down the road I'll go, oh, and this here, literally that I did today. It's old shit, I think I'd call it so. Things by bins, bits of furniture. People leave by bins, fascinated by them.

Speaker 1:

Have you ever sprottered? That's a skip diver, somebody who gets into a skip.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've never got right in one but to be honest, that's usually around here. There's so much plaster dumped on top of the shit that's in them it's quite hard to get to, but I do have some quite good bins across the road because I'm right in the centre of the city. We all have to put our rubbish in.

Speaker 1:

You're a bit of a bag lady then. You're always rummaging around. Yeah, but my phone.

Speaker 2:

I'm looking around at my house at the moment and it's amazing how much of my furniture I got from a bin.

Speaker 1:

Excellent, that's a great squirrel.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's very good. And actually this morning there's an old vintage clothes, a charity shop which has quality vintage clothes which I would pass every time I go to the swimming pool, and I was going down this morning and I looked the window shun and I went and I bought this.

Speaker 1:

Oh, majestic lovely, and you're wearing it today.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's actually what I thought. Brand new cardigan, I'll wear it. Yeah, so old shit.

Speaker 1:

Love that and, by the way, the sprotter was given to me by Chris Peary from Green Ginger. I just remembered him as a previous guest who talked about skip diving. Just thought I'd mentioned that again. Ah, right. Lovely, so you're allowed one more squirrel.

Speaker 2:

I think music. So I love music, and I quite often go kind of weird down. Once you've got, I'm quite good, I like my Spotify, just randoms, and then I'll hear something and go, who was that? And then go, oh, I need to listen to something. Oh, now listen to something else, and then going down a path of who that person was and who they were linked to, that can sometimes suddenly take up a whole evening and I realized so actually I started one the other day. I was listening Actually it was started by Desert Island Discs listening to Graham Nash on Desert Island Discs, and I hadn't realized he was so integrally connected with the Everly Brothers. Um, and I'm going to be in the hollies. Anyway, I'm not going to go into detail, but, oh boy, I traveled the whole music universe then.

Speaker 1:

Marvelous, wonderful squirrels there, random shit, old shit and random music. I love that. Ok, now a quite your unusual fact about you. We couldn't possibly know about you until you tell us.

Speaker 2:

Well, this is kind of no one, because actually a lot of people do know this, but probably most of my theatre friends don't know this Is that I run a church. Oh, wow, um, I'm the chair of the trustees of a Unitarian church in Brighton which is this wonderful old, um, well, 204 year old building which is built like a Greek temple. Um, and the, which I got involved with originally because the roof was falling in and they needed a um, they got some lottery money, but part of that is they had to do some kind of public presentation of the history of the building and they knew I was an actor and asked me to do it. Actually initially, just write a two hander about the Prince Regent, because it was the land was given to them by the Prince Regent at 200. What do you say? Um and Mrs Fitzherbert, um, but then I was, then I was, I got a job at the Royal Exchange and I wasn't around, so I ended up producing it. I employed a writer and I employed a director, and from this two hander it turned into this great big community production about the story of the beginning of this building, which I produced, which and I don't produce very much and I'm really proud of it, of that. It was a big promenade performance that lots and lots of people came to see and lots of the members of the church got involved in. Anyway, the trouble is it proved that I could run things, and was it called the Ballad of Fitzherbert?

Speaker 1:

or probably not.

Speaker 2:

No, it was called Prince and the Pillars. Is what it was called? Prince and the Pillars? Yeah, because there's four amazing huge pillars outside the building.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, he's got a roof on the pillars now. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it has. It has a beautiful roof which doesn't let in the rain. Now Cool.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, now, in terms of just getting a lick on with the structure because of the time that I'm hitting now, we've shaken your tree, hurrah. Now we move away from the tree, we stay in the clearing. Next we talk about alchemy and gold. So, when you're at purpose and in flow, joe Howarth, what are you absolutely happiest doing in what you're here to reveal to the world?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm happiest in a rehearsal room. And that's whether I'm acting, whether I'm part of the acting company or directing. I think both. I just I love the freedom, the laughter. A good supportive rehearsal room is my happiest place and I think, after not being in one apart from Zoom ones, which weren't quite the same during COVID, and I'd had a quiet year prior to COVID as well I've just had three brilliant years of being in three brilliantly creative supportive rehearsal rooms, and it's just reminded me, I think, if I ever during COVID thought, oh well, you know, I won't be going in one of those again. Actually, now it's now absolutely. I want to be in one at least once a year, and probably more. In fact. Can I just live in one?

Speaker 1:

Certainly it shall be yours, lovely, and now I'm going to award you with a cake. Thank you, you get to put a cherry on the cake now. So what sort of cake would you like? If you like cake and if you don't, you're obviously quite strange.

Speaker 2:

I'm going through a lemon drizzle phase at the moment.

Speaker 1:

That's a good phase, ok, so now you get to put a cherry on the cake, which is what's a favourite inspirational quote that's always given you sucker and pulled you towards your future.

Speaker 2:

OK, it's here. So I was given this little badge when I was in New Theatre at the cockpit, by a chap called Dave Evans, who became a film director eventually, but he was only 16 at the time when he gave me this and it's been on my notice board ever since I was 17. No, 18 years old when he gave me this, and it says do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Speaker 1:

Oh, we love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it feels a bit soft, but apparently they think it might be a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. But it's yeah, I think whenever I've sort of had a time where I feel like I'm not doing what I ought to be doing, that will make me feel better about it because I'll go. Well, that's OK, I'll make my own path, I'll go my own path. I find that very inspirational myself at this moment.

Speaker 1:

So just tell us it again, because it's brilliant. Yeah, do not follow where the path may lead.

Speaker 2:

Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Love that.

Speaker 1:

Wonderful. What notes, help or advice might you profit to a younger version of yourself? Now you've got the beautiful gift of hindsight.

Speaker 2:

Gosh, just you've got a right to be here. I think as a young woman, especially in the 70s, I didn't particularly feel like I did, and that still crops up. So yeah, you've got a right to be here.

Speaker 1:

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Speaker 2:

Take a break, beautiful Sound advice. Of course Love that, my dearest friend, who actually lives in my granny flat we've been friends since you were 15, she's really good at doing that, because I tend not to. I tend just to kind of go at things and not let myself take a break. And she's very good at going take a break. I love that You've got your oldest friend in your granny flat.

Speaker 1:

How lovely, it's true, and now we're ramping up to Shakespeare, but just before we get there, this is the past. The golden baton moment, please. So who would you most like to pass the golden baton along to in order to keep the golden thread of the storytelling going? Joe, I'm very excited that I can offer you this, and I've asked her and she's up for it.

Speaker 2:

So there you are, she's a double Tony Award winner, oh well, as well as several Olivier Awards.

Speaker 1:

Who are?

Speaker 2:

again. Yeah, she's a groundbreaking woman in her field. So it's Paulie Constable who's the lighting designer, paulie Constable and she, yeah, she was kind of. I mean, she's just phenomenal. She's an amazing lighting designer, has designed a lot of shows at the National Theater and all over the world. But kind of at a time she was starting, at a time when I mean, now there are more and more lighting designs. It's still quite a bit of a challenge. There are more and more lighting designs. It's still quite a male area, but I've worked with quite a lot recently, of course not at the Globe as we don't have them, but when I'm elsewhere. But Paulie was kind of like the leader of that. She. You know, when there were hardly any women lighting designers, she was out there leading the game. And she also did a lot during COVID for freelancers. She was leading the campaign to make sure freelancers weren't forgotten when it came to giving us some you know recompense and helping us survive.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for the gift of Paulie Constable. Did you say yes? Lovely Hurrah, and now Shakespeare, inspired by all the world's estate and all the bearded women, barely players. We're going to talk about legacy. Finally, joanne, how, when all is said and done, hectress director Joanne Howarth, how would you most like to be remembered?

Speaker 2:

I think I think for being facilitating a space, a place and actually this is interesting because I feel like this in a rehearsal room and on stage, as well as in this kind of community venue that I run in Brighton creating a space where people feel that they can be open and honest and comfortable and brave. And I know quite often, even you know, even as an actor, in a room, yeah, a place where people don't feel they're going to have the piss taken out of them, which I remember drama school happening a lot and you know just the way that can clamp you down. So I don't know people who. I love it. I always collect cards from students when they send me them about how much they learned and how they've learned about the joy of Shakespeare and the joy of playing and the joy of performance and that. So, and and I you know I love being part of a company where that is allowed, because I think a company that has joy and connection and can feel open and brave is going to do the best, most challenging, most interesting work, and I like to think that I've been in those companies and part of me being in them, and sometimes as a director of them, has helped that happen.

Speaker 1:

So, as the curator of a safe, safe space for all to belong, yeah, or a kind of a part of letting that happen.

Speaker 2:

I think you know, as a in a company, you're part of that. But but being part of that, I think I think that's yeah, that's that's yeah. I like that. I mean, I'm also I kind of collect. You know, I've done a couple of little bits of writing out of this. I don't know whether you found that in your research this book that I've written a chapter in which I'm really proud of, and I know when I got it I thought, well, even if I die, that chapter is still going to exist.

Speaker 1:

Why the theatre? Yes, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I've written this chapter called Theatre for Health and I'm really proud of it. But it's, it's and actually interesting. What I just said about actually connects to that in a way, about theatre being being somewhere where you can, yeah, when you can kind of open up yourself and be a better person than you are, you know, Anyway, but yeah, so I suppose legacy does come to me, because that thing about theatre is, it just goes, you know that little bit of Wollander, me and Kim Branagh is still there and it's not necessarily my best bit of acting, but it's the bit that exists because it was recorded.

Speaker 1:

Love that. And finally, where can we find out all about you on the old Hinterweb, should we want to go and find out?

Speaker 2:

Well, I suppose I'm not brilliant on the old Hinterweb, but I'm on LinkedIn. I don't have a website. I sort of think LinkedIn is doing that. I'm on LinkedIn. I occasionally put stuff up on. Well, I got an Instagram account, but I tend to just put stuff up on that when I'm doing a show in a theatre where they want me to share their stuff.

Speaker 1:

So I suppose LinkedIn really is my place, as this has been your moment in the sunshine, in the Good, Listening to show stories of distinction and genius. Is there anything else you'd like to say? Joanne Howarth.

Speaker 2:

I don't think there is, I think. Thank you, this has been quite painless. Thank you for that, chris.

Speaker 1:

I'll take that feedback. It's been painless. So, leeds and Ginny Minmin, you've been listening to Joanne Howarth. If you'd like to be in the show too, just have a look at wwwthegoodlisteningtouchcom and get in touch. Hurrah, thank you very much indeed. Anything else you'd like to say? No, thank you, bye, bless you, instagram. It's at that, chris Grimes. So until next time. For me, chris Grimes, from UK Health Radio and from Stan to your good health and goodbye. So, joanne Howarth, actress, you've just been given a damn good listening to in this format. Could I get your immediate feedback on what that was like to be in this structure, as in how you found the structure of it?

Speaker 2:

It was good. It's really opens up lots of doors. I mean it's sort of quite an inspiring because it's so, the metaphors are so sort of broad. It's been interesting. I mean I think I have well done quite a lot of rabbit holes and thinking about it, but yeah, really great to have yeah.

Actress Jo Howarth
Shakespeare, Morning Pages, and Manchester
Youth Theatre and the Globe Experience
The Impact of Dickens and Complicite
Inspiration, Justice, and Distractions
The Journey of a Theatre Facilitator
Feedback on Joanne Howarth's Performance