‘Barry & Joan’, following the romantic and creative lives of British dance pioneers Barry and Joan Grantham, is released in UK cinemas this month. The film follows the influential dancers and mime artists, their personal story intertwined with a rich and surprising journey through the performing arts world.
The couple, who have been together for 70 years, have seen it all, and through their eyes so do the audience. The film follows the wacky and wonderful experiences of Barry and Joan, following their lives as teaching artists and directors, taking inspiration from their never-ending enthusiasm and energy. Peppered throughout are delightfully original animations depicting classical characters of old, adding depth and education to this entertaining story. Barry and Joan show us that, regardless of age, it’s never too late to follow your passions, share them with others and have a joyous time while doing it.
The film features Barry and Joan Grantham, Audrey Rumsby (the director and producer) and many other artists, both professional and amateur. It also provides a dynamic, inspiring tapestry of famed performers of the past and present, skilled in such arts as vaudeville, commedia dell’arte and ‘eccentric dance’.
Director and producer Audrey Rumsby, herself a previous student with Barry and Joan, says: “One of the greatest gifts of being human is the privilege to reflect, learn and grow, based on the lessons of our past. Through learning from people like Barry and Joan, we get closer to understanding why we are the way we are. History is one of the most important treasures we can cherish. When we meet vessels of history, we have a responsibility to harness their experience, cherish them, and learn from them.”
The response to the film has been wonderful, Audrey said. The Guardian’s review concluded: “The whole package works a treat for theatre geeks, mime fans and lovers of eccentric dance.” Audiences have been overwhelmed by the joy, charm and inspiration of Barry and Joan, particularly due to their immense experience in performing arts history. For those not as connected to the arts, the film paints a beautiful picture of two lives intertwined, in love and increasingly inspired in old age. Older audience members have commented on how wonderful it is to see a film celebrating life after retirement age.
Audrey hopes to encourage other people to be more playful, saying: “I strongly encourage artists and non-artists alike to be more playful in their everyday lives. A playful attitude helps us build connection, vulnerability and trust. Explore how you can be more playful in your relationships, in business, and at home and, mark my words, you’ll be happier and more successful in everything you do!”
UK release dates for ‘Barry & Joan’ are: 17 May, 6pm, Showroom Screening + Q&A; Chichester, 20-22 May, Chichester Cinema at New Park Screening + Q&A on the 22nd; Gravesend, 21 May, The Woodville Screening; Northampton, 27 May + 1 June, Northampton Filmhouse Screening; Bury-St-Edmunds, 7 June, Abbeygate Cinema Screening; Poole, 7 June, Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre For The Arts Screening; Oban, June TBD, Oban Phoenix Cinema Screening