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Thanks to Arts Council England Emergency Response Funding during autumn 2020, whilst adhering strictly to government covid guidelines, we have brought together safely (with masks, social distancing and plenty of hand washing and gel!) a group of actors to develop their physical theatre and movement skills with world famous performer, theatre maker, writer and director PETA LILY and using this particular style of performance to explore nursery rhymes for the initial development of characters and material for a new show!


Our vision from the start has been to produce a theatre show for young children and families and to tour it when our theatres and community venues open safely for the public and when live theatre can once more excite, enhance and nourish our minds and spirits and when this pandemic is well behind us all. 

Under the wonderful guidance and teachings from Peta Lily as actors we have studied Embodied Voice, Commedia dell’Arte, Comedy Craft, Clown and Archetypes, Mime, Laban and Dark Clown.  

This work is so challenging, exhilarating and opens up so many creative possibilities and sees us all producing  and expressing ideas and creations physically, emotionally, vocally and imaginatively that we have never seen amongst us and ourselves. before. I love this way of working

Shelley O'Brien, Actress

I feel young again!!!

Carolyn Fairlie, Actress

Feels so good to be doing this work !! It is demanding on so many levels. It's just great!!

Peter Baynes, Actor

I was deeply impressed by Company Director Shelley O' Brien’s vision for Mad Alice – work that is accessible and life-enhancing but which does not shy away from presenting some of the darker aspects of life. Shelley found the possibilities of physical theatre compelling, and invited me onto this recently completed Research and Development period to nourish a small group of performers under the Mad Alice banner. We covered a lot of ground, made some glorious discoveries and laughed uproariously (safely within our pandemic face-coverings) and were also moved by some of the work that came out of the physical-, vocal- and character-based improvisations each performer developed. We are excited that we have laid groundwork for a future making of an intriguing fresh new work in a rich, melded style.

Peta Lily, Director


Photographs by Richard Eyers



Peta started life as an actor, and had the privilege to study with a wide range of theatre and dance practitioners, vocal work and aspects of martial arts practice and has enjoyed forging her own synthesis of techniques. She was one of the key figures in the early Physical Theatre movement (1988 Fringe First winning show Wendy Darling was cited in The Road to the Never Land: A Reassessment of J M Barrie's Dramatic Art by R.D.S. Jack. 1992 show, Beg was cited in Feminist Stages: Interviews with Women in Contemporary British Theatre by Lizbeth Goodman and Jane De Gay.). 


She was well-known for her solo shows (in those days a rare thing), but she also worked in companies and devised shows for companies. She is a director and also a writer, and teaches in Drama Schools, RADA, Mountview etc and also independently.


As a director, she has directed opera, theatre, cabaret and circus works including award-winning Je Regrette for Sarah-Louise Young, Famished for Lost in Translation Circus and Rough Magic for LCF:UAL at Wilton's Music Hall. 


You can read more about Peta and her work at - there's a blog or various arms of her work, too.

We are blessed to have had this time with Peta who is an incredibly successful and talented performer and theatre maker and who is such a wonderful, dedicated, caring, lovely teacher and person too!

Shelley O'Brien, Actress

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