A female theatre company formed by three friends will make its debut at Greater

Manchester Fringe Festival in July – with a play about friendship.

BAPS Theatre Company will stage Di and Viv and Rose, written by actress Amelia Bullmore, who is known for appearances in Coronation Street, Ashes to Ashes, Sherlock, Scott & Bailey and Happy Valley.

Louise Wilson, Sophie Ellicott, and Sophie Toland met at Manchester Shakespeare Company, decided to set up their own theatre company and their debut production at Joshua Brooks (20-23 July 2016) will be set in Manchester.

In the play, they meet at university and are prepared to deal head-on with everything life throws at them. But once their student years are over, they gradually realise that ‘growing up’ is more of a challenge.

Louise who plays Viv, was born in Bolton, passed her degree there and has since appeared in Hollyoaks, Between the Lines, From There to Here and Fresh Meat, as well as being part of the community chorus in ‘Sweeney Todd’ at the Octagon Theatre.

She said: “Viv very headstrong, quite serious. She is the mother of the group, always keeping an eye on them, telling them they shouldn’t be doing this and they shouldn’t be doing that.

“She’s at university to get a first class degree and that’s it. You don’t hear about her going out and getting drunk or anything. She’s quite a serious character.

Throughout the play she gets what she wants in terms of her career and the girls meet up throughout the years.

“It is set in the 1980s and 1990s, but she is into her 1940s outfits. She has studied sociology and you get the impression that she does not have a sex life at all.”

Sophie Toland, who plays Di, is from Holmes Chapel in Cheshire, studied for her degree in Hull, followed by the Birmingham School of Acting (BSA). However she moved straight back to the North West after her studies.

She said: “Di is a typical tomboy, very sporty. She is trying to figure out who she is and she struggles with her sexuality. She’s torn between wanting to follow her heart and the difficulty of having to tell her family she might be gay. It is the whole issue with coming out, especially in that decade.

“She takes friendship quite seriously and is a really good friend. She expects the same in return and doesn’t always receive it. There are different sides to her.” Sophie Ellicott, from Failsworth, plays Rose studied at Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) South in Wandsworth.

She said: “Rose’s character is very flamboyant. She is introduced to boys and to gets to experience lots of different boys. She does come from a broken family but she deals with that. Choices she makes at university change her life.”

BAPS, which stands for Building Art Promoting Solidarity, hope to take Di and Viv and Rose on tour, and perform new writing too.

Louise added: “We wanted people to know it is a female-led company but we are not excluding men in the future. We wanted a picture that was cheeky and celebrated women but did not ostracise men in any way.”

Photographs by SHAY ROWAN

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