Personal Account

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!

Ian Soady was interviewed for Catching Stories on 17 April 2017. The interview transcript is available on this website.