by Ian Soady, former member of Banner Theatre’s Main Group
14 April 2017
I first came across Banner in around 1973-74 when I saw a production of The Collier Laddie at St Peter’s College in Saltley. I was also performing, I think, with a loose assembly of people including Dave and Miriam Dale. I was very impressed with the production and wrote a short review for Saltley Gas.
When I was at Saltley Action Centre, I booked a number of travelling theatre productions (7:84 etc) to play at Norton Hall and I suspect Banner was among them.
I think I first actually got involved around 1977 for the Race Show. For some reason I ended up taking over lighting from John Fryer. I remember actually doing a theatre lighting course at Aston Arts Lab. From lighting, I carried on doing both that and sound effects / music including some concertina parts in weird keys which always terrified me….
Then I was involved with the building trade show although I don’t remember actually doing any music etc. I do remember sewing puppets, I think at your house… At around this time the nature of Banner changed with the arrival of Frances [Rifkin] as a full time director and I became less involved in the productions as I felt its fundamental nature was changing in a way I was less comfortable with.
I did start doing some work with Bernard [O’Donnell], arranging gigs and tours. I went to London and arranged a tour there but I have no recollection of which show it was. This would probably be 1980-81. I also remember doing some interviews for the British Leyland show round about this time.
Following that I essentially lost touch although still going to shows. This was partly because by then I had a “proper” job so had less time to devote to it. I suspect Dave Dale became involved as he and I had continued to do one-off gigs in pubs etc, and he became interested in Banner and probably contributed a lot in terms of moving away from very traditional musical genres and introducing more electric instruments.
That’s about it – I hope you can manage to dredge up more from the deep recesses of my memory!
Note: Ian Soady was interviewed for Catching Stories on 17 April 2017. The interview transcript is available on this website.