Interview: Beth Crackles and STABLE

As part of Camden People’s Theatre and their 10th Calm Down, Dear festival – curated this year by RashDash – Beth Crackles brings her show STABLE to the stage on 2 Jun at 7.15pm.

Ticket link:

I asked Beth to tell us more about her show, its themes, the fringe, and how starting to get into theatre at the age of forty feels.

Promotional image for STABLE

You’re a first time writer and performer putting on a solo show. How did you find yourself here? Who is Beth Crackles?

Post-Covid I had a bit of a ‘is this it?’ kind of moment and I was in a tricky place mentally so decided to take time out of work to spend time with my youngest child and to write that sitcom I’d been thinking about for years.

I did write a few episodes of a TV show and I did a little bit of my own poetry at an open mic night – but STABLE just sort of happened.

I applied to be part of Barrel Organ Theatre’s ‘LIVE at Barnsley Civic’ and that was the catalyst for STABLE becoming a thing.

Through this I was mentored by the comedian Luisa Omielan while developing the script. I put on STABLE in Sheffield, where I live – which was terrifying and brilliant – and did 20mins at Barnsley Civic. That’s it, to date.

Who am I!? Right now I’m a mum, a charity worker and a part-time writer, living in Sheffield and trying to work out how to live happily and creatively, and with passion for the things and people I care about.

I’m a bit all-or-nothing, which is perhaps how, despite being someone that gets very nervous public speaking, I’ve created a 45minute solo performance. I think that might be known as immersion therapy?

STABLE doesn’t shy away from the tough topic of domestic abuse, but does so with humour. How important was it to bring the comedy element into the show?

Like many people, I use humour to navigate tricky subjects. Not to be flippant or laugh things off, but to make them accessible to me and be able to process them.

It’s not funny that my stepdad was abusive. Was it funny that he tried to bath a golden retriever on Christmas day when he was drunk and he was so wet and breathless that it looked like he’d tried to shag the dog? Yes.

With STABLE I didn’t want to just talk about having a hard time. That’s not interesting or unique. I didn’t want it to be self indulgent. I didn’t want it to be brave. I wanted it to be good.

Good storytelling can shift perceptions. STABLE entertains but also challenges people to think not only, ‘why did she stay?’ but ‘what’s the lasting effect?’.

How important is it to be supported by venues like Camden People’s Theatre and festivals like Calm Down Dear?

Essential. I’m new to this and it’s expensive and also really scary putting yourself out there.

Having supportive venues like Camden People’s Theatre makes it much more accessible for people starting out or testing new things. I guess they are the bedrock of new talent.

For me, Barrel Organ Theatre was the game changer. It just takes one organisation – or three lovely people – like that to give you the confidence…and if you’re relentless and belligerent you can make things happen!

You’re producing the show as well – how challenging has that been?

I haven’t really thought about this being a thing! The set up is so simple. My tech requirements are lights up…lights down.

I had a bit of a wobble seeing other people’s professional sets and lighting. Then I got a grip. I’m doing exactly what I want, how I want, on my terms and that is a pretty good position to be in.

The stage is set as my kitchen table which is hugely symbolic for me and I’m hopeful that will resonate with the audience too.

I had a few hours of support from George Stone, a Sheffield-based theatre director and all-round incredible person, so that helped me get in the headspace for being on stage and what I wanted there with me too.

What’s next for the show and for you?

I’m going to see how STABLE is received at CPT and work through the feedback I get on the evening – then I’ll work out what next. I thought about Edinburgh Fringe, but I don’t feel ready for that right now. Maybe next year.

My TV script was recently in the top 10% of scripts in BBC Writersroom open call, so I’d like to return to that too.

As a newbie to writing, it’s obviously my side hustle and my main goal is to enjoy it and write good stuff. I’m taking up my first CEO role at Sheffield Hospitals Charity on Monday.

I’m passionate about people getting the best support in the worst of times; when I’m not writing about it, I’m trying to make it happen in real life.

Life starts at 40, eh!?

Follow STABLE on Instagram.