CATHY Tyson and Pitch Lake Production bring ‘She Called Me Mother’ to The Lowry in Salford this week, Quays News entertainment reporter Amy Williams caught up with Cathy recently…

Cathy Tyson is an actress who began her career in Liverpool at the age of 17 and has been actively in the industry ever since. After performing in films, TV shows and theatre for her entire adulthood, she has maintained her love for acting through the many different styled shows that have been broadcast; her diversity has been shown through the variety of different characters that she has played so well, including Carol Johnson in Band Of Gold, Miss Gale in Grange Hill and Andrea Hayworth in Emmerdale.

Next on her list of achievements is to star in a play called She Called Me Mother which comes to the Salford’s Lowry Theatre on November 13/14. This play is a Pitch Lake Production that she is co-founder of and as the lights come up on stage, it will introduce a sensitive storyline that is sure to be a tear jerker due to the emotional issues within it.

Cathy has won many awards in the past, as well as being a BAFTA nominated actress. She continued to explain about her experience in Manchester and her success within the city: “I’ve played twice in Manchester and I won the Manchester Evening News Award for best supporting actress a few years ago. I don’t act for awards but I did win it. Manchester has been very good for me, I’ve played a lot of TV and theatre there but I’ve seen things there.

“It’s a beautiful city with lots of good architecture as well like the science museum and also quarry bank, I’ve been around quite a bit and we filmed in Salford when we did Band Of Gold, so I feel quite familiar with Manchester; lots of canals and I like the fact it’s near Liverpool!”

Touring all around Britain and being sure to be involved in many cities, Cathy has performed in the northern city of Manchester twice, including being on stage in The Lowry before. She said: “I’ve played there before and I like that area it’s beautiful; I’ve also been in that studio before so I know what it looks like. I’m just happy to be performing, and we’re touring so much that every theatre feels like home because when you walk in there it’s a sense of familiarity.”

Moving on to her newest project which is upcoming, Cathy stars as one of the main characters in She Called Me Mother, which is the second production from Black Theatre Live.

“I hope it gives out many messages, the character has been waiting many years and never given up hope about trying to see her daughter. We’ve just been invited to a young offenders institute and that will be in front of a lot of young men and this involves domestic violence and I just feel very privileged to be offered this opportunity; if we go I hope that this can help to bring about talk on the issue.”

She continued: “I had a privileged life, I haven’t suffered a lot of pain and there’s a lot of pain there and people going through terrible stuff. I like to think I can help to make people think while entertaining and giving hope. But then, I can’t command what people take from it, people take what they want and I try and hope for that but people will take different stuff to what I’m giving out. They interpret it… it’s quite frustrating because I like to control it! It is great that people make up their own minds though.”

With She Called Me Mother being live on stage rather than broadcast on television, the reaction from the audience is there in the moment and is shown instantly. Cathy shared her thoughts on the crowd reaction for this show: “We’ve had a great response of people just sitting there and listening and I’m amazed at the audience’s patience and willingness to listen. We’ve had a good response so far but I don’t want to take anything for granted. They’ve been appreciative, they’ve felt that there’s more than two characters on the stage because its storytelling about other people.

“I’ve been on the phone talking to organise, it will be nice getting back to my lines tomorrow, when we go to Chester. The audience has been engaged, we talk to the audience because we have a lot of monologues looking them straight in the eye and it’s wonderful, it’s like a conversation! I can focus on one people’s eyes and people feel involved and you get them being quite attentive just in case I look at them.”

She laughed: “I looked at someone sitting next to a man I was looking at in the audience and they nudged the person next to them as if to say ‘look she’s talking to you!’. I didn’t expect all of that, it really is a delight.”

Cathy told an anecdote to show her appreciation for the efforts of her audiences: “There was a man the other night in the crowd for a Peterborough show, and he was on a machine with breathing apparatus. He was on the front row, and it was so nice seeing him, I thought ‘god bless him, he’s ill and come all the way here’. I looked at him at the end and smiled a thank you for his efforts. The audience are so much a part of this show, they give me so much; I feel listened to and I feel like they’re listening to the homeless [Cathy plays a homeless character]”.

By being involved in so many different aspects of the acting world, it was interesting to see what is preferred: TV or theatre. Although Cathy enjoys all sides to her job, she enlightened: “I love the theatre. I never used to commit to what it is that I enjoy the best but I think that it is theatre! You’re very vulnerable in the theatre because you’re there, on stage, for 90 minutes and you can’t get off. You’re there every moment, in the moment and so is the audience; they’re there for the whole time going through it with you. In the moment anything can happen and it’s knightly. You’re actually hearing different sounds in the audience, and no two audiences are the same so that’s interesting.”

She continued: “I started life in the theatre so it is close to my heart. I love the fact that we go to places and there is a theatre there; wonderful theatrical tradition in the country.

“When you go all over and you see a theatre, it’s like a church. It is somewhere for people to congregate. I get quite sentimental about theatres!”

Cathy has done a lot of charity work in the past, where she has hosted events to raise money the Sick Children’s Trust a few years ago. With She Called Me Mother including sensitive issues, I wondered if Cathy would be doing any more charity work regarding any issues associated with the play.

“I am going to visit a woman’s refuge. I love helping other people if I can in acting. If I am earning enough money, I will go and do charity work. I usually do drama workshops and I would do it regularly – it is amazing what you can do and it is very rewarding especially in that area.”

Although Cathy is at her busiest point due to the current play touring with Pitch Lake Productions, she is already thinking about her plans ahead and raising the prospects for her next project.

“We have to talk about our next plans, but we’re doing this show next year for three weeks in London. I’m going off for auditions obviously but we’re just working through this. We’ll have a meeting about the next play after that. I don’t know what will happen next year but I have an idea about the next play.”

The amount of hard work that she has put into the play is obvious and cannot be argued, so she laughed and admitted: “I probably would like a holiday after this, too!”

By: Amy Williams

She Called Me Mother is at The Lowry theatre in Salford on November 13/14

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