About the trust Top
The Sophie Winter Memorial Trust has been set up to commemorate and celebrate the life of a young actress who died in June 1995 from a misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy just before her final performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s new play ‘A Word From our Sponsor’ at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and just prior to its transfer to the Chichester Festival.
The purpose of the Trust is to commission new plays and have them produced. This seems to be a very appropriate way of turning a tragic loss into a positive gain, a gain not just for those who work in the theatre but for everyone who believes that plays and players are an essential part of our everyday lives.
Why new plays?
Quote from Nicolas Hytner - Director Designate, The Royal National Theatre
more important to the future of theatre than the encouragement of new
playwrights, and nothing is more encouraging to a playwright than the kind
of support the Sophie Winter Memorial Trust can provide: not just the
wherewithal to write a play, but even better, to have it produced.
Quote from Sir Richard Eyre CBE - Author, Producer, Director
"There are two people who are indispensable to making any piece of theatre - the actor and the writer. Without a play the actor is without a purpose, and without new plays the theatre won't survive. Which is why it's so important that young people are encouraged to write for theatre and that theatres are helped to put on the plays of untried writers.
More and more young people are choosing to write for the theatre because they realise that there's an opportunity to have their voices heard, to express themselves freely in a way denied to them by the ever growing homogeneity of television and the ever-diminishing possibility of feature films being made."
Quote from Julia McKenzie - Actor, Director
"In our present, uncertain times we need young playwriting as never before. In turn, young playwrights need our support and encouragement as never before. In supporting the Sophie Winter Memorial Trust you can help to ensure a long lasting future for live theatre."
Quote from Duncan C.Weldon - Theatre Producer
"A vision is a vision if it's only in your head.
Stephen Sondheim -
'Sunday in the Park with George'
Starting out on any career is difficult, a creative career is more difficult and a career as a playwright is probably the most difficult. There is no tried and tested formula, there is no infrastructure for support, you are on your own. The trust is attempting to remedy this situation as far as they can by supporting, encouraging and helping new young playwrights get their foot on the ladder. By getting their play produced at Scarborough the trust is backing the next generation of David Hare's, David Storey's, Harold Pinter's, Christopher Hampton's etc; by contributing to Fund you could be helping the next Alan Ayckbourn!"
Why the Stephen Joseph Theatre?
Sophie spent 3 years working for the SJT and the very varied programme of new plays in which she performed not only provided her with opportunities to develop her talents as a versatile actress, but were crucial in establishing her own commitment to contemporary drama.
Commissioning new writing and nurturing the talents of young playwrights is central to the theatre's artistic policy.
Young playwrights fortunate enough to work with the SJT are given professional support throughout every stage of the long creative process which eventually leads to a production in a theatre that offers unrivalled technical resources. (visit www.sjt.uk.com)
Alan Ayckbourn’s tribute to Sophie in the ‘Independent’ June 21st 1995Over three productions I did with Sophie Winter, I grew to appreciate her true potential as an actress, her extraordinary capacity to convey innocence and vulnerability, plain, simple unselfconscious goodness. All of which was offset by her unique strand of humour. Winter was far closer to Buster Keaton than Orphan Annie.
As with the great original clowns, the source of her humour was impossible to trace. Sophie Winter was a director’s, especially a comic writer/director’s joy. Anything you asked her to do she would try - a few ideas she might return to you later, with a modest, apologetic smile at her failure to make them work. But mostly she happily seized upon and, having viewed them through her own quirky, lunatic lens, returned to you freshly minted.
I first worked with her when she played Mary in ’Love Off The Shelf’, then again on ’Two Weeks With The Queen’ in which she played Mum and Iris. Our last meeting was at The Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round in Scarborough where she was to play Gussie in my latest play, ’A Word From Our Sponsor’.
The relationship between actor and director takes many forms. For some, over the course of a production, it’s an intimate, intellectual, spiritual, often passionate experience resulting in deep personal friendships, long after the show in question has been forgotten. At the other directorial extreme there is a preferred distant affair based on mistrust and uncertainty, even fear and downright antagonism.
For me, as ever midway between, there’s a sort of happy medium. Outside the workplace there’s a mutually agreed distance between the two of you, actor and director, the sort a patient might enjoy with their GP say: yet within the rehearsal room itself a closeness, a trust and an understanding that resembles more a marriage than a working relationship.
I suppose, extending that metaphor, that Sophie Winter and I were comparative newly-weds. Undeniably married, we had made a number of unwritten, unspoken vows to each other. With my talents, such as they be, I thee entrust. That sort of thing. An odd relationship to be sure, sharing, as we did, so much so intimately, being privy to her creative centre, gradually growing to understand her emotional working whilst at the same time knowing little or nothing about her public and certainly her private life.
Hers was a talent I needed and loved. I had hoped that in return I could have had a part in encouraging and nurturing that talent through a few more plays together. I think we would have both enjoyed that.