Last month 17Percent met with Roisin Rae and Anna Ehnold-Danailov of theatre company Prams In The Hall.
Prams In The Hall are based on an interesting idea – taking children into the rehearsal room. On one hand, this seems like such an obvious idea when childcare is prohibitively expensive and theatre is often such a poorly paid profession, but on the other hand, what chaos might ensue?
Anna Ehnold-Danailov, Sarah Hunt, Roisin Rae and Ain Rashida Sykes are all theatre professionals and parents. In summer of 2012 they established the theatre company Prams In The Hall, encouraging access to process, rehearsals and performances for those who have children. Prams In The Hall focuses on new writing, collaborating mainly, though not exclusively, with actors, directors, writers and other artists who have children. Their ambition is to create the highest standard of work while exploring and sharing new working practices that include bringing young children into the rehearsal room.
For professional women it seems there is often a stigma attached to having children (more so if you are a single mum), and this appears to be particularly true in theatre. Many actor friends have been unsure whether to mention they have children at auditions and some even feel forced to keep it a secret. Prams In The Hall celebrate and support the chaos and creativity that bringing a child to the rehearsal room can create. At Prams In The Hall, children are a welcome, planned for and part of the company. ‘We agree to create a safe and fun environment for them, as well as helping each other to work despite the chaos, and find ways of allowing it to feed into our creative process rather than stopping it.’
The company’s work is not restricted to ‘parenting issues’. However, the productions currently in development, ‘Through Daddy’s Eyes’ and ‘The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor’, take an unconventional look at modern parenting.
‘Through Daddy’s Eyes’, directed by Ain Rashida Sykes, puts on stage on stage the voices of real fathers, taken from the curated blog Daddy Diaries.
‘The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor’, written by Roisin Rae and directed by Anna Ehnold-Danailov, focuses on the inner turmoil of an artist who is also a mother.
Since starting the company, Anna told me that several women have emailed her and said ‘thank you, because I was getting to the point where I was really worrying that if I have children then that’s the end of my career, but now I feel like my choices are more open.’
Everyone is welcome: mothers, fathers, carers, guardians, as well as theatre practitioners without children who would like to work with us.