The next interview in our stagey chat series is writer and filmmaker, Gary Thomas. Thomas' latest film installation, Lost Memories, is touring the UK.

Get yourself comfy and join us for the next segment of Stagey Chat!

Hi Gary, how are you today? Thanks so much for chatting to Stage to Page! Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us how you first got into the theatre industry?

I’m inherently a writer, so most of my work has been me writing something and then getting fed up about situations and I ended up producing my own work. I never knew anyone in either film, theatre or visual arts growing up, but somehow I got good at filling out funding forms. I’ve always been good at research, and I guess working out how I can make things happen especially under my own steam. I wanted to write my memoir and thought that would be a good project that arts council might like, as it covers mental health issues, my disabilities and how I overcame a lot of my issues. But I did know how to do the audience section, as arts council ask for a literature project. So, I created Hidden, a one man play about mental health issues as part of that project, which would be taken from my own writings and experiences. That application was successful, so I wrote and directed Hidden, which was my first play and performed at several venues which was great. It originally starred Jonny Collis.

Your latest film, Lost Memories is set to start on its UK tour from June. Can you tell us more about this personal and heartfelt story?

Sure, it was back in 2021, I was looking for a project I could do at home, and I knew arts council like certain stories around Alzheimer’s, especially raising awareness etc, and at that point I’d been the only carer for my mum, this turned out to be for 7 years because of her Alzheimer’s. I had lots of film from my phone of us together, of us on holiday (pre-pandemic) and then I’d capture stuff at home. I still didn’t know quite what shape the work would take, but this became a bit clearer as I wrote the funding application. It got rejected but I put it back in, I think by that time I had Fabrica Gallery involved as part of their Making Space programme. I asked David Parker (the producer) to be involved and he became the perfect person to talk about different ideas and move the whole project forward.

When did you decide that Lost Memories would work best as an installation, as opposed to a "traditional" way of watching film?

I’ve always been interested in film installation and film as an art form, it’s so varied. Sometimes it’s very specific art, you can tell how it’s been made, but other times it’s just that the artist has made a film. There doesn't seem to be many rules that apply. But also playing with memory in film is also interesting, so one screen could represent the present and another screen could represent times in the past. Fabrica were great at allowing us to show a work in progress in 2022, so we could really explore this.

Did you always know you'd be sharing the most intimate parts of being a carer to your mother; for example, using real phone footage and your own diary entries?

I always thought it would be just mobile phone video footage (not phone calls) at the start, so I knew some of it would be quite intimate in a way. Then through discussions with David we came up with the idea of the diary writings as the narrative, which brought new insight for the viewers.  

A question I ask every guest on Stagey Chat, my blog is called Stage to Page, but if you could turn any book from page to stage, what would it be?

Well, last year I wrote and produced a musical version of the Shakespeare play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. That was a lot of fun! Another side of me loves romantic comedies, and this is one of the earliest there is, so it was great to write and bring that to life.

And finally, why should people book tickets to see Lost Memories?

You don’t need to book, you can just turn up! (Although there will be writing workshops you can book as part of the exhibition!) It’s a powerful film installation about being a carer, and the demands on someone caring for a parent, but is ultimately uplifting and amusing. Anyone with an interest in arts and health, or with an interest in dementia/caring should come!

You can find out more about Gary Thomas, and Lost Memories, here.


14th -16th June St Anne’s House, Brislington, Bristol BS4 4AB
3rd -7th September Worthing Gallery, Colonnade House, 47 Warwick Street, Worthing BN11 3DH
17th -21st September Paignton Library, Great Western Road, Paignton TQ4 5AG
October 2024 Victoria Pavilion, Victoria Pleasure Ground, New Town, Uckfield TN22 5DJ
5th -10th November Library at the Lightbox, 1 The Glass Works, Barnsley S70 1GW

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