life of theatre's Walter Mitty
the world's a double life... Inside Out West investigates|
Out West unmasks a theatrical fraudster.
Using wigs, stage make-up and a
variety of costumes, Jessica Maynard has pretended to be at least eight different
people - including a pair of twins.
And the female Walter Mitty has used
her false identities to cheat the Arts Council and the National Lottery out of
thousands of pounds.
Inside Out West shows how the Romsey woman also left
a trail of debts around the country.
started her career as a theatre officer with the Southern Arts Board in Winchester
Her job was to administer grants to theatre companies, but she
also paid a grant to herself using the alias Kat Mallory.
exposure - Jessica Maynard as 'Chess Eliot'|
The Arts Council
provided the BBC with copies of the fraudulent grant application.
"We felt it important to give what information we could to the
Inside Out team in order to help bring this story to the attention of the general
In 2003, Ms Maynard moved to Burton upon Trent and started
using the names Claire and Chess Eliot from the Journeyman Theatre Company.
"twins" told staff at the Brewhouse Theatre that they wanted to put
on a play called Desperately Seeking Jake Roverton.
The play was about
a woman who uses a false identity to become a Hollywood producer.
and Chess worked at the Brewhouse for several months but staff became suspicious
because they were never seen together.
eventually admitted that Claire and Chess were invented characters, and claimed
that her real name was Denise Bryan.
The play was abandoned and she was
asked to leave.
identity - Jessica Maynard as 'Denise Bryan'|
A year, later
Ms Maynard arrived in Sheffield to promote the UK tour of a play called Picture
The play was really just a rewrite of the Burton play, Desperately
Seeking Jake Roverton.
She used the alias Rebecca Perry of Dreamweavers
Theatre Company to get grants of almost £5,000 from the National Lottery
Awards For All Scheme and £3,000 from the Arts Council.
had only just started when she was again confronted by suspicious actors.
left Sheffield leaving debts of £7,500.
she worked in Bristol using the name Alison Kennedy from Plan B Theatre Company.
called her play Holding out for a Hero, but it was another rewrite of the two
earlier plays. Once again, the Arts Council and the National Lottery were duped
into giving grants.
take - Jessica Maynard as 'Alison Kennedy'|
This time the tour
actually went ahead, but she later disappeared leaving thousands of pounds of
Nigel Jones, of the actors' union Equity, says his members have
been tricked by Ms Maynard on numerous occasions:
"One of our members
said she initially thought she was misguided and incompetent.
now realises she is malicious and dangerous.
"Her advice was that
performers should not put themselves in the position she was in. We would endorse
Some actors have
also been registered as directors of Ms Maynard's theatre companies without their
- Sara Brooks was outraged by the deception|
Sara Brooks was
outraged when she discovered she had been made a director of the Mythic Dreams
She says, "I have no words to describe how I feel
about her. She is just a complete and utter fraud."
Inside Out West
gave Jessica Maynard written details of all the programme's allegations, but she
said she had not been given enough information or time to respond.
relating to this story:
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