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24 September 2014

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The monologues cover a range of topics!

Shows of strength

Bristol's Show of Strength Theatre Company has two very different productions on offer for the city's audiences this spring.

The Bedminster-based company brings a series of 20 monologues together under the banner Waiting - and there's also an opportunity for an audience with Brunel contemporary and inventor, Sarah Guppy.

The Bristol twenty

The Southville Centre in Beauley Road is the venue for Waiting on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd April - and it's a chance to buy one and get 19 free!

The production is made up of the 20 winning monologues from the company's recent Waiting competition.

And it's theatre on the hoof, as audiences are invited to walk around the building - and the garden and car park! - to find the performances.

Show of Strength recommends people allow around two hours to see all these five minute pieces by Bristol writers.

The event takes place from 11am - 5pm at the Southville Centre off Coronation Road and tickets are £5.

Sarah Guppy

Meanwhile, there's another monologue from Show of Strength later in April, as Kim Hicks stars in An Audience with Sarah Guppy by Sheila Hannon.

Sarah Guppy, a 19th century inventor and mother of Brunel's friend and backer, Thomas, has actually had a fair bit of publicity recently, with a blue plaque erected by the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society, unveiled at her former home, 7 Richmond Hill in March.

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The life of Sarah Guppy is examined

Born in 1770 she married Bristol merchant Samuel Guppy and was a leading light of the Bristol and Clifton social scene. 

The couple had six children and were close friends of Brunel.  Sarah's son Thomas was a major investor in the Great Western and Great Britain ships and the Great Western Railway and remained close to Isambard all his life.

In 1811 Sarah patented the first of her inventions, a method of making safe piling for bridges - several years before Telford's Menai and Brunel's Clifton bridges.


Other inventions included a device for a tea or coffee urn which would cook eggs in the steam as well as having a small dish to keep toast warm and at the age of 74 she was still working, patenting a device for "improvements in caulking ships, boats and other vessels."

But her private life was just as interesting. In 1837 the widowed Sarah, now 67, married Richard Eyre-Coote, 28 years her junior. 

For a while they lived at Arnos Court, Brislington, but Richard ran through his rich wife's money at a rapid rate, spending on horses and neglecting her.

Sarah moved into 7 Richmond Hill in 1842.  She bought the land opposite the house for the benefit of Clifton residents and it still remains green space.  

By her death her fortune had dwindled to £500.  The following year Richard dropped dead walking up Park Street, leaving just £200.


Kim Hick's An Audience with Sarah Guppy takes place on Tuesday 25 April at 8pm at Clifton Hill House.

Or you can catch it on Thursday 27 April at 7.30pm at the Create Centre or Friday 12 May at 4.30pm and 8pm at the ss Great Britain Maritime Heritage Centre.

Tickets cost £5 - £8. Tel: 0117 953 7735.

last updated: 28/03/06
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