Lisa Bowerman is one of those prolific actors who really ought to be better known. Her theatre credits include The Bristol Old Vic, Salisbury, Harrogate, Windsor and many more. Her television CV includes everything from Casualty (the first two series) to Spooks, Coronation Street and Doctors. She is an astonishingly versatile V/O Artiste having recorded many plays for the BBC. For the last twenty years she has played Bernice Summerfield in the Dr Who spin off of the same name. She is also an audio director with a long list of credits including, perhaps most famously, the Jago and Lightfoot series. She was most recently seen as Lady Kettlewell in JB Priestley’s ‘The Roundabout’ at the Park Theatre and off Broadway. Lisa is appearing in AN HONOURABLE MAN 20 November – 8 December 2018 at the White Bear Pub Theatre.
1. When did you first Act/direct etc? And what was it?
Acting wise, the school nativity – when I was six. Playing the Angel Gabriel, for which my mother thought it appropriate to dress me as a fairy. Yup. Scarred for life. My first directing experience of any note – was about 13 years ago, when I first started directing for the audio company Big Finish. ‘Etc…’ I take photos professionally – and I have to thank my late Godmother for giving me my very first camera and my oldest brother, Christopher, for showing me how it worked.
2. What or who was your greatest inspiration?
Off the top of my head - Katharine Hepburn, Sian Philips, John Hurt, and countless actors who are lesser known, and really shouldn’t be! Photographers....Jane Bown is a real favourite.
3. What professional training have you had? Do you think it was relevant?
The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. It was a very good course. All the basics plus puppetry, doing your accounts and CV and playing the recorder (not necessarily at the same time!). It’s served me very well.
4. What has been your favourite part/play/production etc?
To be honest I just like working. If I had to choose, the role I played in ‘The Roundabout’ last year was pretty special. The quality of Priestley’s dialogue is a joy. There is nothing quite like hearing an audience laugh. I’ve played Bernice Summerfield for nigh on twenty years. I’ve been told it’s the longest running title character in any audio drama. The part is an absolute gift. Directing wise it has to be ‘Jago and Lightfoot’ with the great Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter.
5. What has been the most wonderful thing you’ve seen on the pub theatre circuit?
I hang my head in shame…I’m not a regular visitor to pub theatres. I don’t actually live in London, so it’s never become a routine.
6. Pub theatre is having something of a renaissance. Why do think this is?
What’s so impressive is that these smaller venues are allowing performers, writers and directors a place to try out their work. For an audience a live experience is something you can’t replace. The immediacy and intimacy of pub theatre is completely different from a visit to the West End.
7. Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Healthy, working on things I can enjoy, and watching my garden grow (see below)!
8.Tell us something about yourself that nobody else would know?
I garden…. I LOVE gardening. Having said that, my garden’s the size of a postage stamp!
9.What is the song that most moves you?
Anything by Bach… and who doesn’t love a bit of Vaughan Williams? ‘Lark Ascending’, driving through the English countryside in spring, gets me every time. And this is pretty left of field but, ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willy Wonka. There’s something so achingly nostalgic about it.
10. Musical, comedy, drama? What would you choose?
A Comedy/Drama….with music. Think that pretty much covers it.
11. The crime you would carry out if you could get away with it?
Oh….don’t ask that, I’m terribly straight-laced! – Actually….it probably isn’t a huge ‘crime’ as such – but there are some really great buildings I’d love to break into, just to have wander around, alone – with my camera.
12. The happiest moment of your life?
Too many to mention. I’ve been lucky.
13. The saddest moment of your life?
The loss of my parents, and too many friends over the years - to death’s dateless night.
14. What historical figures would you invite to a dinner party?
Elizabeth I – (let’s hope she has her teeth in) – Shakespeare (probably a terrible ego), Aphra Behn, (for a bit of balance) - Noël Coward (For the gossip) – and just to throw a spanner in the works…Christopher Hitchens. Oh - and Eric Morecambe (to lighten proceedings). The seating plan would be a nightmare.
15. How would you like to be remembered?
With a smile.
Lisa Bowerman is in
AN HONOURABLE MAN at White Bear Theatre 20 November – 8 December 2018 - full details and box office here
Images top to bottom: Lisa as Angel Gabriel, her four greatest inspirations, Lisa in a photoshoot for BERNICE SUMMERFIELD, Lisa in J B Priestly's THE ROUNDABOUT, Lisa with some of the the cast members of BERNICE SUMMERFIELD and Lisa's choice of historical figures she would like to invite to a dinner party