Q&A: Gillan Yates & Philippa Smith, Choir Leaders

What’s your name and what do you do?
(Philippa) My name is Philippa Smith and I am a Singing Teacher and a Theatre Practitioner.

(Gillian) Gillian Yates - singer, director and theatre maker.

What are you creating for Never Better?
(Philippa) I have the privilege of teaching and conducting the Choral Piece for Never Better, which was specially written for the show by Composer Kate Whitley.

(Gillian) I am co- leading the community choir.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
(Philippa)My inspiration comes from visiting the Gloucester Archives and reading some of the accounts which has been preserved for so many years. Closer to home, there are individuals who are close to me who live with mental health and I am so grateful that this topic can be highlighted and increasingly discussed in a more positive manner.

(Gillian) I have a strong belief in the value of art as a medium to highlight problems, find solutions and make people feel better! For me, Never Better is giving a voice to those who never had one (those who were locked away in asylums in the past) and also giving the community choir the chance to share their voices with the wider community and be heard. My inspiration comes from new life challenges, my movement research and my meditation practice.

What do you hope people will take away from Never Better?
(Philippa)I hope that everyone that gets to see the show will gain a deeper insight into the realities of living with mental health. I also hope that the voices of those who have gone before can be heard through the performance.

(Gillian) My hope is that projects like this one will make it easier to talk about mental health issues and share our problems with each other. I also hope that people will feel the urge to campaign for better mental health care services in terms of funding, staffing and training.

What else are you working on and where can people find out more?
(Philippa)After the show I will continue vocal coaching and producing for Strike a Light Gloucester. Also, I look forward to conducting the Highnam school choir at the Meningitis Now concert at the Gloucester Cathedral in December as well as working with various other groups in and out of Gloucester. Visit me at: www.centre4voice.com/voiceacademy

(Gillian) I have been commissioned by Gloucester Cathedral to create and direct two theatre projects which explore the issue of homelessness. Stone Cold 2 is being performed in the cathedral's Crypt on International Homeless Awareness day October 10th at 1.30 and 7.00pm. The Moon Sees Me is a movement and singing performance under Luke Jerram's Moon in the nave of the cathedral November 1st at 7.00pm. I also teach singing and run voice workshops for those who believe that they cannot sing and help them find their voice.

Gillan Yates

Gillan Yates

Philippa Smith

Philippa Smith

David Drakeley