Louise Breckon-Richards is an actress, performer and playwright, with an inspiring true story to tell. That story, about how Louise lost her voice due to a rare condition, and tried to overcome it by running the London Marathon, is the subject of her upcoming one-woman show Can You Hear Me Running? at the Pleasance.
“Can You Hear Me Running? tells the story of a woman’s quest to re-find her voice and run a marathon – never giving up till the finishing line,” explains Louise, who’s collaborated with writer Jo Harper and director Steve Grihault on the show. “I had a basic idea for a play based on my real experiences of running the marathon and having vocal problems. I met the writer Jo Harper and together we created Can You Hear Me Running?!”
The show’s based on Louise’s notes, blog and diary entries written while she was recovering from vocal chord surgery, and training for the marathon. That experience has led her back to the stage, in a fun and thought-provoking show about defiance against all the odds, featuring live music, video projection and storytelling.
“I feel excited and terrified in equal measure to be back on stage,” she says. “It’s great to be doing what I love and what I trained to do. I’ve missed it so much. I hope audiences will feel inspired, informed and moved at the story we’re telling, but equally that they’ll have been entertained and had fun too.
“The show has universal themes running through it such as loss and grief, but it’s also about finding new ways to overcome difficulty. I don’t think there have been many plays about the voice and running, so hopefully it will be informative, but also fun, moving and hopeful.”
When she lost her voice, Louise turned to running as a new challenge. “I ran a little before, but my real passion for running grew when I was struggling with other aspects in my life,” she explains. “My voice was failing and I needed to find a strength somewhere else. I watched three of my closest friends run the marathon years before and they were always a source of inspiration to me and this just felt like the right time.
“I think everyone’s journey is different with vocal problems, but for me as a performer, I had to find another muscle and form of creative expression that would help alleviate the stress of what was happening. Running definitely helped me, and also writing and painting as I found that I could still have an identity. Come and see the show to find out more!”
Louise still runs regularly: “Running is now a habit for me – a ritual and I can’t imagine life without it. The best runs for me are the ones with my friends where we chat and put the world to rights. I did a half marathon in March, but I’d love to do another marathon, maybe when I’m 50!”
So what are Louise’s top tips for surviving the London Marathon? “My advice would be: get your long training runs in, don’t eat every single jelly baby that the hugely supportive crowds offer you, and enjoy every minute!”
Can You Hear Me Running? is at the Pleasance from 4th-23rd October.