One of the main threads in Hard Times is a Father’s relationship with his two children.  Through the course of 2.5 hours, we see a groomed, textbook approach to raising children, unravel and expose the threadbare consequences of relying on fact and etiquette, rather than love and attention to the individual and that individuals needs.

We are blessed in our company with several real life fathers.  They astound me everyday.  Through arduous rehearsals, show schedules and weekly tour techs, they stay connected with home.  I’ve become affectionately familiar with the sound of a Face Time ringtone or the sight of one of our gents, nipping out to say goodnight to his other half, after an evening show.  And it fills me with respect for both the men and the women, who have made a pact to be together, continue with a profession that brings out their passion and invest in a meaningful family life.

Of course this isn’t an easy task.  Of course any couple and family must negotiate and find compromise when ones work life does not follow a regular pattern.

There will be times when the tables turn and it’s Dad on school runs and evening dinners and Mum working a nightmare shift or both parents stretched in all directions, at the same time.  “Challenging” doesn’t even begin to sum it up.

But the point is: we try.  And those moments of true togetherness, born out of honesty and generosity for one another: those moments are priceless.

And despite Mr Gradgrind’s questionable parenting, he is not above learning a valuable lesson from his children and searching, very honestly, to make amends, by the end of the play.

With all of this in mind, I asked our company if they might be willing to share a memory or description, of an important male figure in their lives:  Fathers, Stepfathers, family friends, colleagues, were all welcome to the story party.

I think between us, we’ve pieced together something incredibly special.  I hope you enjoy and savor reading these cherished memories, as much as I did.

We’ll be posting half this week, and half next.

Happy reading and thank you to all who have contributed – it was a privilege to listen.

Suze xx


Howard Chadwick:
Transcription from recorded interview

Summer of ‘69

A memory of my Dad

To contextualize it, my Dad was in a wheelchair, he became a paraplegic in 1969, when he was a fireman, he was in an explosion and that was a week before my 3rd birthday. So…most memories I have of my Dad are of him in a wheelchair, because he was paralysed from the chest down.

But the memory that I’m going to give you is of him walking.  So, it dates how old I wasI have a memory of him walking at Christmas, so that must have been Christmas 1968, I was born in October 1966, so I must have been 2 years and 2 months.

He was a fireman.  My memory of him is, all the kids, (who were the firemen’s kids), being at the fire station, being at a fire station Christmas party that was thrown for the kids and there was a dressing up race and you had to go to different stations along the route and pick up a bit of fireman’s kit, so by the end of it you were dressed as a fireman and of course it was funny because all the uniforms were too big for the kids…I was only 2 and so I was running along and couldn’t do it, couldn’t even get the trousers on, so I was right at the back and I think I was probably a bit upset because I was right at the back and I remember my Dad, picking me up and putting a helmet on me and running me to the front and over the line first and saying “You won!”

The amazing thing is, it’s a lovely memory and a lot of us have lovely memories of childhood and of our parents and they’re kind of a bit indistinct and a bit vague about how old we were…but in actual fact, because he was walking I know exactly when it was.

And I also have a memory of him in the Summer, when he was walking and we were on his allotment and I was with him and I picked up a bird and it was a dead bird and I mustn’t have known and I was trying to make the bird fly and he came and he said “No, no, it’s dirty, it’s dirty” but he was walking…that was probably the summer of ’69…so that was me in the Summer of ’69 being Bruce Springsteen at the allotment trying to make a bird fly…

But my vivid memory is the one at Christmas, where he made me win the dressing up race…


Claire Storey
Written By Claire

He called me Miss Kiki

Barry Storey, LRAM, bandmaster, Barnados boy. A cross between Bruce Forsyth and Bruce Wayne, a keeper of secrets, funny, eccentric ; my hero. There were always rose-thorn scratches on his shining brown head, and his huge, gentle fingers were the best at removing splinters.

The sound of his Honda 50 phutting into the garage at 6.04pm each night and him bursting into the kitchen in his gromit helmet, glasses steaming up as he sat down to stew and potatoes and tea.

He called me Miss Kiki. My Dad was my best friend in the whole world.




Deborah McAndrew
Written By Deborah

He will be there on opening night

I don’t have a specific memory of my Dad – but he is definitely not a Gradgrind. Even though he was a sportsman himself, having three daughters who were more interested in the Arts he got stuck into whatever we were into. He ferried us to ballet classes, piano lessons and even got involved with the Leeds Girls’ Choir. He and my Mum sat patiently through all the plays I wrote as a child, acted by my sisters and friends (who had little choice in the matter). They drove me to gigs when I started singing with a jazz band in my teens, supported me when I said I wanted to do Drama at University, and never questioned the path I set myself on. In my early career when I was working more as an actor, they only missed one show when my Mum was ill. When I began to write more, they enjoyed sitting in the audience with me. Since Mum passed away, Dad has continued to come to see my plays and he really enjoys chatting with the actors after. He still lives in Leeds and will be there on opening night of Hard Times at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and no more or less proud than he was when he watched me as a 5 year old angel in my first school nativity.



Kay Packwood
Written By Kay

With a small amount of research

My dad taught me that as long as you can read, you can do anything.  That is what he did and what he taught all his children to do.

In childhood it was –  read the instructions, read the manual, look it up in the dictionary/encyclopaedia, get a book out about it from the library.  Now it is Google it, but the same principles apply, anything can be achieved through reading and research and a fair amount of just having a go.  It has stood me in good stead so far! If you don’t know how now, you will with a small amount of research soon.  It was a solid lesson and a good way to approach life, so thanks dad.

I can’t begin to list all the things my dad has achieved throughout his life by researching and then having a go.  But pictured here is one of his latest achievements when he cobbled the part of the Pennine Way that we live on.


Written By Broadsider

My Theatre Dad

He gave me my first job (well, unpaid work experience) when he was a Production Manager at XXXX theatre in November 2000. He was also the set builder and Lighting Designer for every show and has the most extensive knowledge of everything ever. An absolute machine, he was known as being a “strong skinny bloke” and drank Guinness. I was amazed when I asked him how old he was and he said he wasn’t sure but it was probably 28 or 29. He’s now in his forties and I can’t believe he was so accomplished at such a young age.

I first realised he was an total hero when I witnessed him standing on top of a very tall pair of stepladders screwing two flats together. Not the top step, the actual top. I remember thinking, “I hope I won’t be expected to do that…”

He gives quiet praise, you have to listen for it. He saw me editing a minidisc and said, “Oh, sound whiz.” It was his praise that made me realise how much I had learned.

I have relit his lighting designs for years and we now have a relationship where he doesn’t have to tell me where to point the lights, I just know. I deal with technical problems by thinking, “What would he do?” and I delight in telling him about these. I want him to be proud of me and I glow when he is.

We have known each other for over 17 years and are just graduating to ending messages with “xx” instead of “x”.

He was too busy to light one production so gave me all of his notes from the previous tour. It was one of my proudest moments when a colleague told me John Godber had called me by my Theatre Dad’s name; during the lighting session because, John, had forgotten it was me.

We have had exactly one conversation about art. He believes art should cost nothing and hates flashy shiny new equipment that is only bought for the sake of it.

A very fond memory is being at XXXXX theatre, in the new building and trying to attach something to the back of the Pros. We were on a platform and the only way to do it was for me to basically fall forward. The Tech SM on the floor asked if I was sure. I said, “Yes, I’m sure. Now let’s not have a conversation about it or I’ll lose my nerve.” I fell forward, did what I needed to do and pushed myself back, rocking on my heels. My Theatre Dad said, with pride, “Good job!” The thing is, I wasn’t scared. I knew he would catch me.