Ali & Phil Anderson-Dyer
The Bunbury Theatre Company CIC, Dumfries & Galloway and London
Tell us a little about what you do and why you love it
ALI: What’s not to love! We’re very lucky and now-a-days our jobs essentially entail making and teaching theatre! Although there’s more to it than that…
PHIL: We’ve only recently moved here in the last year and so we’re just starting to meet people and learn about the area but we produce professional theatrical projects and productions, as well as running a number of educational classes and programs both in Dumfries and Galloway and London.
ALI: As a company, Bunbury Banter… or ‘Bunbanter’ as we’re known, specialise in audio and new writing, although we’re also interested in multi-disciplinary work and new technologies, as well as the use of history, verbatim and physical theatre.
PHIL: I love the work we do, more than anything for the capacity it has to change people; be that through our theatre pieces or educational classes. In my opinion good theatre, in any form, should make us think and question things we might have taken for granted or misjudged….
ALI: But it should also be entertaining and an experience, not to mention accessible to everyone. That’s why we set up the company… There’s some horrible statistics of how often people engage with theatre and the results aren’t good for our industry but we want to change that. Those who work with Bunbanter believe that theatre and storytelling are intrinsically linked meaning that ‘theatre’ can happen and be created or experienced anywhere, even the discussion created by seeing a piece of theatre could be described as ‘part of the show’. And if that’s the case, then accessibility becomes focused on the issues which stop people seeing accessing theatre, be that financial or physical hardship, distance or proximity to venues or a number of other reasons.
PHIL: Ali’s gone on a rant… she does.. we’re very passionate about what we do. I guess that’s one of the reasons we love it. All the educational work we do, whilst also developing our students as individuals, works in the same way; we’re fostering the same appreciation, for questioning, imagining and exploring life, which lead us into making theatre.
ALI: Not that we’re encouraging our students to go into the theatre as a career, as unless you’re very lucky, it’s not the most stable….
PHIL: I’ll stop us there, before Ali moves onto that as it is another area we feel rather strongly about but have the capacity to drone on about. It’s not that we’re against anyone joining the profession, it’s just that acting is an especially hard life choice and having been one (in Ali’s case) and married to one (in my case)… we’re hesitant about encouraging that too much. Our classes and Ali’s workshops are always more about holistically developing the individuals involved, using the skills and disciplines taught and used by those who work in the industry.
ALI: Now who’s droning… next question.
What makes Dumfries and Galloway special to you?
PHIL: Where to start… although we’ve not been here long, I can genuinely say we have never found a more beautiful and welcoming place, as D&G…
ALI: We’re irritatingly boring about how much we love the place… it’s beautiful walks and scenery, which seem like all the best rural elements of the UK in one place! The woods and forests, the beaches, hills, moorland… And then there’s the arts – so much art and literature and so many fantastic festivals… and then the food! I can honestly say (as can anyone who’s watched us expand would also confirm) that we’ve both put on quite a bit of weight, since we’ve moved here.. I hoped the walks would counter-balance but so far we’re failing on that one…
PHIL: The Moniaive Chocolate shop and restaurant at Marrberry have become firm favourites of ours… And then there’s the wildlife, we’ve seen more voles, owls, frogs and toads then I ever thought possible! And the size of some of the birds!!
ALI: I think we’re starting to sound like the tourist board!!
Are you involved in other arts and cultural activities?
PHIL: We’d love to be but the company really does take up much of our time. That said, Ali does teach and work with the Guild of Players in Dumfries and we’re both involved with the community council (which isn’t really arts!) plus we’re go to as many of the meetings, arts events and festivals, as we can.
ALI: I especially enjoy Spring Fling… unlike my bank account!
PHIL: Hmm. I remember.
ALI: And we’re hoping that, now we’re a bit more settled, perhaps we can get more involved in some of those in a professional capacity, with the company.
Have you always been in this role – or have you/do you do anything else?
PHIL: Well, running a theatre company and especially in the way we do, means there is no specific role per say, loosely I’m the company producer but that often incorporates many other jobs and certainly doesn’t give me time to do much else, not that I’m complaining. Before coming onto the company the year after they started, I worked as a freelance producer but before getting into the theatre, thanks to my good lady wife here, I worked in a huge variety of job positions…
ALI: He was a postie amongst other things, and a mobile phone salesman …
PHIL: I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, until my late twenties so I did all sorts of things.
ALI: And he helped move us to London and then supported me through drama school, which meant taking, pretty much anything he could!
PHIL: But I’ve also worked a number of theatre jobs, from stage door keeper to backstage tech team, front of house, education… the list goes on.
ALI: We met when he was on stage door in Cambridge, when we both worked at the Arts Theatre.
PHIL: Yeah, I took that job because I thought it was easy!
ALI: Little did you know it was going to ‘dramatically’ take over your life…
PHIL: Ali has always wanted to work in theatre although, when I met her, she was acting.
ALI: I’d always wanted to act, ever since I was small and trained as an actress before becoming a director… although I’ve also done all sorts of jobs outside the theatre, from making fudge in a ‘Fudge Kitchen’ to a professional chef, event manager, sales and my fair share of promotional work. I also teach and run workshops, such as the Adult Acting Workshops on a Wednesday night, with the Dumfries Guild of Players.
If we asked a friend to tell us something surprising about you, what would they say?
ALI: Blimey, that’s a tricky one … perhaps that I was briefly homeless in my teens? Although that’s a bit dark … so maybe, that I went and lived in Ireland for a bet?
PHIL: Everyone knows that …
ALI: So what about you?
PHIL: My mates would probably surprise me with what they’d say!
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
PHIL: We have a very special member of the team who we haven’t mentioned, and that would be our Westie, Higgins. Higgs comes almost everywhere and having experienced the craziness that is the London theatre scene, he’s almost a bigger D&G fan, then us!!
ALI: In seriousness, the only other thing I’d mention is that we love hearing from new people be that audience members, collaborators or even those who are just interested in what we do.
PHIL: With the help of the Hollywood Trust, we’ve recently started running classes for young people in Upper Nithsdale on a Monday evening during term time, see our website or social media pages for more info or do get in touch.