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Gregory Fryer - All We Need Is A Vicar Interview

All We Need Is A Vicar is the love-child of The Vicar of Dibley and This Country. Inspired by the desire to be silly in an increasingly serious world, in this village you’ll find a clunky choir, average A-listers and a variety of vivacious villagers.

It’s a Saturday morning in the charming village of Bislebury. Life is quiet, but today there’s a sense of occasion in the air! However, the day is about to descend into chaos. A mishap in the church diary leads the Vicar to realise she has a bit more on her to-do list than she first thought. Desperate to avoid revealing her mistake to her congregation, the Vicar and her faithful sidekick scramble to regain control of a day that’s quickly slipping away from them.

Will the best man remember the rings?
Will the funeral party sober up?
Most importantly, where are Mary Ann’s massive marrows?

This piece has been written by Gregory Fryer and Amy Nic. It will be performed at Canal Café Theatre in London on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April 2024.

We caught up with Gregory to discuss the piece further.

Where did your arts career begin?
I suppose we could call my Year 6 Leavers’ Assembly at primary school the start of my arts career. My teacher asked if I wanted a small part with no speaking involved, a medium part, or a big part with lots of lines. For whatever reason, I chose a big part. That led to youth theatre, which led to drama school, which led to this!

Were there any people or performances that had a big impact on you?
My grandpa’s favourite musical is West Side Story, I remember watching that film a lot. It’s still the best musical of all time in my opinion. I like the newer version too, but you can’t beat the original.

Honourable mention to Sean Hollands, a Director and Movement Director who led me to my choice of degree course, European Theatre Arts at Rose Bruford College. He came into my college and led a Frantic Assembly physical theatre workshop with us which I absolutely adored. I asked him how he got to where he was, where he trained, etc. and he told me about this degree, which I then auditioned for and got in! That was a really significant moment for me, in terms of realising the sort of theatre I wanted to make.

Where did the idea for All We Need Is A Vicar come from?
All We Need is a Vicar was actually born out of my attempt to write a comedy murder mystery, which I won’t go too much into because I hope to one day finish writing it, but from it came the idea of the ‘All We Need...’ concept. In essence, ‘All We Need...’ is a prompt for creating certain challenges, both within the world of the story and in terms of theatrical style. In this instance, the main theatrical challenge is that there are far too many characters for the number of actors we have, while the plot challenge is that the Vicar actually has far less control over the events of the story than you might expect, given that she is the lead character.

Described as the love-child of The Vicar of Dibley and This Country, how much of an impact did those shows have on you?
These shows, especially Vicar of Dibley, represent how I hope audiences will feel when watching All We Need is a Vicar. I have really fond memories of sitting on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, having just popped down to the corner shop and bought a Cadbury’s Caramel, and watching shows like Vicar of Dibley, Fawlty Towers, Mr. Bean, etc. They’re just feel-good, classic comedies. And This Country’s just absolutely daft and I love it.

How did you approach bringing the show to the stage?
We’ve had to be quite resourceful with how we use our time to prepare for these performances, by fitting short, intensive periods of rehearsal around work commitments.

Initially I brought a group of friends together for two days (with some free rehearsal space from Culture Warrington, thanks very much to them) to test out the idea. At that point, there was no script, and we used that time to develop a rough idea of a plot and some characters. Amy Nic and I then went away and wrote the first 20 minutes of the show in a few weeks, which was rehearsed in a day or so and then entered into a scratch night arranged by Culture Warrington (again, thanks very much). This was incredibly well-received, which was lovely, and spurred us on to write the rest, fiddle with a few bits and take the lessons we learned from the scratch night and implement them throughout the rest of the script. We’ve got another intensive rehearsal period this week, which then brings us to this Friday and Saturday, which is where the full piece will be shown for the very first time!

Do you have a favourite part of the creative process?
My favourite bit is always in the rehearsal room. I think I’m pursuing a career in theatre just to spend as much time in rehearsal rooms, if I’m honest. I just love playing with an idea, improvising when someone comes up with something brilliant and seeing where it takes you. Writing can definitely have that element of play, especially when writing in a pair, as Amy and I have done for this piece, but the rehearsal room is the best bit for me.

What is that moment like when you get to see a piece come together in the rehearsal room?
It’s incredibly exciting. Being able to communicate an idea between a group of people and see it come to life exactly how you imagined it and see that it looks good, that’s very satisfying, but more often than not the people in the room will improve an idea, maybe add something unexpected, which is so thrilling. I think that comes down to the people you have in the room with you, and I’m lucky that the people that have been involved with this project so far have all been great fun to work with.

If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why?
Custard cream, second choice Malted Milk. Simple, but undeniable classics. I’ve just realised that I’ve answered that question as if you were asking for my favourite biscuit, not which one I’d be, and thus described myself as an “undeniable classic”. That wasn’t my intention, but I may as well stick with it now.

If you could have dinner with any 3 guests, who would you invite?
Stephen Fry, Steven Gerrard and Steve Jobs. I’m a big fan of the name Steve, in all its varieties.

What does theatre mean to you?
I think theatre is capable of doing great things, being responsible for cultural shifts and inspiring thought. It is also where people go to be entertained, and I think both those things should be celebrated. It’s just where I’ve always had the most fun.

What keeps you inspired?
My friends, who are all trying their best to pave their own way through the arts industry with their own brilliant creative ideas. My fiancee, who is constantly striving for success in her own career, while providing never-ending support for me with mine and at the same time reminding me to have as much fun as possible.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing All We Need Is A Vicar?
I just hope they have a good time. I hope they have a laugh, I hope they’re quoting it to their friends on the way home. The world is a very serious place, and the issues people are facing shouldn’t be ignored, but I hope the act of coming together in a space with other people and having a laugh for a bit, provides some relief or brings a bit of joy to them for a bit.

Where can people see the show and follow the journey beyond this?
People can watch All We Need is a Vicar on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April 2024 at Canal Cafe Theatre in Little Venice, London. Tickets cost £13 full price or £10 for concession (plus £1.50 booking fee) and can be purchased from the theatre’s website via the following link:
People are also more than welcome, in fact positively urged, to follow us over on Instagram at @allweneed_theatreco for all future updates and just to keep an eye on us in general, make sure we’re not up to any mischief!

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