South Yorkshire actor brings his first self-written show to Sheffield
The splendidly named Granny Grotbag, the erstwhile “Wildcat of Sheffield”, is the creation of Dronfield-born actor Joshua Welch.
He is bringing his one-man ( one-woman?) show, ‘Granny Grotbag Says Goodbye’ , to Theatre Deli next week.
Granny regales the audience with her life story as a carefree Northern lass who found the love of her life and raising her children and now finds herself all alone.
Was there a particular person who inspired Granny Grotbag?
Joshua said: “It was the stories of all the matriarchs in my life all rolled into one.
“The format is a bit like a coffe e morning at first in that I welcome the audience into my home and offer them tea and coffee. I learn people’s names and suggest some of them sit on the sofa. When everyone’s ready, she tells her story.
“The feel of it is like a Lily Savage or Victoria Wood monologue. Gradually, as she tells her story, you realise there is a lot of grief and sadness. She starts out all jokey but it gets darker as the show goes on.”
‘Granny Grotbag Says Goodbye’ is directed by Kelly Hunter, with live music by Holly Musgrave.
Joshua grew up in Dronfield and went to university in York to study drama and then moved to London to do a Masters at the Drama Centre. During his time there he spent two months studying at the Boris Schukin Theatre Institute, Moscow.
It was with Norton Players in Sheffield where he first got the acting bug.
He said: “When I was 10 my mother passed away and I joined the Players as a way of escaping the drama in home life. It was a massive lifeline for me and the main reason I am doing acting as a job.”
He made his professional debut last February as Jack in a Northern adaptation of Th’ Importance of Bein’ Earnest at Drayton Arms Theatre in London.
He said: “Instead of Edwardian London it was set on a council estate in Nineties Yorkshire – Shameless meets Oscar Wilde.”
Other credits include Puck in Flute Theatre’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Bridge Theatre.It was through working with Flute that he met his director, Kelly Hunter. He said: “She runs Flute which makes interactive Shakespeare productions for children with autism and tours all over the world.”Nevertheless he felt the need to do something for himself.
He said: “The way the industry is at the moment, at saturation point with so many people and so little work I thought I would write something of my own.
“I wrote it on the back of a napkin and eventually showed it to Kelly who offered to direct it.
“I did it at a festival at the White Bear pub theatre in London and this will only be its fourth performance. but I’m really keen it should be seen in the north.
“We hope to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe but what I would really like is to do a tour where we perform the show at night and then the following day have a coffee morning and invite old person’s groups along to have a cuppa and see the show.
He said he hadn’t performed in drag since his panto days with Norton Players, but preparation was minimal. “We didn’t have any money so we got the costumes from charity shops and a wig off eBay and my housemate at the time did my make-up.”
‘Granny Grotbag Says Goodbye’ is at Theatre Deli on F ebruary 6, at 7.45pm.