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by Salt Circle Productions

Written by Cat Addens

Directed by Grainne Robson

'Meet Cumley St. Claire, the nation’s most notorious florist. Known for their experimental blooms and outrageous personality, not to mention that time they elbowed Mary Berry into a canal, Cumley quickly earned their reputation as one of the most disruptive voices in floristry.

In their landmark, first ever class they will reveal all of their secrets. Join the studio audience for the filming of this watershed moment in floristry... and join Cumley as they reveal the florist behind the flowers.

Contains: Grotesque imagery, loud noises, flashing lights and a high pollen count.'

The show 'A Masterclass with Cumley St. Claire: Freeing the Florist Within' had its work in progress show as part of TAP University Theatre Festival at Goldsmiths University and premiered at the George Wood Theatre. We then brought the show to Camden Fringe on the 20th-22nd of August 2021 at The Hen and Chickens Theatre, where it gained brilliant audience reviews. Salt Circle Productions is continuing Cumley's successful run to Clapham Fringe at The Bread and Roses Theatre on the 8th and 9th of October. We hope to continue performing this production at various fringe festivals in 2022. (Check out Salt Circle Productions website for more information).


"It is a must watch for those who like their comedy anarchic, mildly obscene, and brimming with tragedy." (4 Stars)- View From The Outside, 2021

"The production company Salt Circle said they intend to create safe comedy spaces where queerness is celebrated, and where it isn’t the character’s only storyline they are achieving that and it will be great to see how they develop."- Dress Circle Reviews, 2021


The initial character of Cumley St. Claire had been an idea of Cat Addens' for a decade. When, as a team, we were put under the pressure to create a play for University we started with Addens' idea and discussed the character until we came up with the name 'Cumley St. Claire' (very loosely based on Joanna Lumley). With inspiration from 90s comics such as Victoria Wood, 'Absolutely Fabulous' and playwrights such as Alan Bennett, we created a character that was absurd, outrageous but with a dysfunctional sadness that the audience can somewhat relate to. Cumley was to be played by Cat Addens and we decided that Cumley can come across as gender ambiguous to the audience and therefore we decided to make the character gender queer (non-binary) which fit to the actor's pronouns of 'they/them'. Addens' wanted to create a queer character that mentions their previous relationships but their identity and sexuality not being their main plot point.

As a director of the show, I was put in an unusual position. I, not only was performing in the show, but I was also directing an actor who wrote the piece. However with Cat Addens understanding the character but also trusted my opinion and direction, they accepted that I may have to change some of the monologue from their initial ideas and some scenes they pictured might come across as different to their idea when writing it.

As this piece was initially a monologue play, much of the direction was focused on Cumley, however there was also the characters Han, the stage production manager (played by myself) and James the technician (played by the productions tech, Joseph Edwards Rean). This meant that early on I wanted to establish the 'who, what, when and why' of the characters Han and James in relation to each other and to Cumley. Raising questions such as 'how do they know each other?', 'how long have they worked with Cumley?', 'How do they feel about Cumley' as well as questions about the characters and their history to create a personality around these characters that are for the most part, silent throughout the piece. It was important to me that not only their was some form of emotional memory but also physical memory when it came to blocking the piece.

Cumley St. Claire performed long monologues that ofen changed from humourous, tragic to all together wackyness. We needed to make sure that we kept the audience's attention throughout the piece as well as made sure that every movement and every development made sense to the character and the set they were in. As the monologues were set int he same environment of a television studio we had to choreograph the movements to keep each story new and engaging while also drawing to the call-backs of Cumley's main plot around their traumatic experiences. For the actor we used emotional memory to try and bring them to a similar emotive headspace and also brought other actors into the space in rehearsals so that the actor could visualize the people they were describing in Cumley's monologues when it came to space work. With Cat's dedication to the role, they studied the Meisner technique outside of rehearsal in order to connect themselves emotionally to the character.

Inserting myself as an actor in the production was more difficult as I switched from director to actor within the rehearsals and performance, this was especially difficult on performance days where I would be Director, stage manager, performer and Salt Circle Productions co-director. However, I believe this was overall achieved and the performances ran smoothly with great audience reviews.

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