Save Our School Dinners... Jamie!

What's cooking? Save Our School Dinners... Jamie! cast discuss their school meal memories

Posted on 20 August 2018

With Save Our School Dinners… Jamie! serving up a slice of fresh, homemade comedy drama at the Belgrade this September, we’ve found that all the talk of school meals has been stirring up some childhood memories…

Lovingly cooked up by Midlands writer Paven Virk, this new show tells the story of a tenacious team of dinner ladies, all living in one place but originating from all over the world.

Conceived as a celebration of the multicultural makeup of the region, this truly international cast of characters find common ground in a shared admiration for celebrity chef and school dinner champion Jamie Oliver, and in their determination to save the only school in their community, one creative concoction at a time – anyone for curry mash?

It’s often said that smell and taste evoke more powerful memories than other senses, and it turns out we’re not the only ones who have been reminiscing about remembered meals. Ahead of the show’s arrival here 12-15 September, some of the performers told us a bit about their own school dinner experiences, as well as their favourite meals today.

Claire Cogan – Trisha

Best school dinner?
Savoury Mince Pie

Worst school dinner?

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Crispy Belly of Pork with Roasted Butternut Squash

Favourite takeaway?
Cheese Burger with Raw Onion and Skinny Chips

Do you have any strong memories of your school canteen?
Befriending a dinner lady so she would only pour a tiny amount of compulsory custard over my sponge pudding! 

Tell us about your character, Trisha
Trisha is very stuck in her ways. She resists change and has a “my way or the highway” attitude. In the play, her ideas and ideals are challenged throughout, she is constantly trying to keep one step ahead of the younger generation. But exhausting as this is for her, it proves to be a cathartic experience. I am 48, so I get where Trisha is coming from!

Caramel Tart

Elizabeth Adejimi – Akuada  

Best school dinner?
It has got to be the caramel tart with chocolate sprinkles!
Worst school dinner?
Lumpy shepherd’s pie
Do you have a signature dish that you cook?
Pasta with mackerel in tomato sauce 
Favourite takeaway?
Salmon teriyaki from Wasabi. I love sticky rice and I love my fish!
Any school memories of your school canteen?
I remember the day I vowed never to eat custard again (I was in year 5). I was sitting in the lunch hall eating chocolate cake and custard when Connor Dailey (from year 3) sat opposite me with a mass of green snot flowing from one nostril.  
Tell us about your character, Akuada.
She’s a combination of fun and spirited with a garnish of sassy!

Tonia Daley-Campbell – Gloria

Best school dinner?
Turkey drummers, chips and peas

Worst school dinner?
Mashed potatoes with gammon

Do you have a signature dish that you cook?
Sweet sticky salmon with rice, veg and homemade coleslaw

Favourite takeaway?
Salt and pepper king prawns with egg fried rice. I love it because it’s a bit of a posh takeaway, although I do also love me some fish and chips!

Any memories of your school canteen?
Lunchtime was my best time of the day, hanging out and joking with my mates. I didn’t like to eat in the canteen as I was on free school meals and it made me feel self-conscious about my lack of money. I used to like to go to the local chippy instead. I would save up my paper round money so I had enough to go with my friends. 
Tell us about your character, Gloria.
I absolutely cannot wait to play Gloria! She is not a stereotype – she’s full of wonderful, glorious, fun-loving spices that once released you just want more. Everyone I know tells me I’m funny, so I think playing Glorious Gloria will give me the chance to really showcase my comedy bones!

Papaya Salad

Nunt Ruddit – Althea

Best school dinner?
Roasted pork collar with sticky rice

Worst school dinner?
Boiled potatoes in sweet syrup (a Thai dessert)

Do you have a signature dish?
Green curry spaghetti

Favourite takeaway?
Leon! Because they have various choices for food, drinks and snacks. Also, their food is simple, but delicious and healthy. Love their pastel de nata!

Do you have any memories of your school canteen?
Some of the cooks in my school had been serving food for us since we were in kindergarten — these were the faces that we used to see every day throughout nine years in school. I was quite touched that they seemed to be able to remember a lot of us and our stories.

Tell us about playing your character, Althea.
Having trained in musical theatre, it was a big surprise to be cast in a straight play. As exciting as it is, it also feels quite odd that I’m not bursting out into song at any point! As a Thai actor who has trained in a Western framework, I find that a lot of Asian roles are often very stereotypical or ‘token’ in their characterisation, so to be able to play an Asian character that doesn’t adhere to these, but has her own passions and is driven in pursuit of her goals, means a lot to me.

Alison Belbin – Director

Best school dinner?
It’s got to be jam roly-poly and custard. I love puddings!

Worst school dinner?
Liver – yuk! It’s so powdery, isn’t it?

Do you have a signature dish?
I’m not a very good cook but I do a nice quiche!

Favourite takeaway?
Fish and chips from our local one in Handsworth. We’ve been going in there for years and the woman who runs it is lovely!

Do you have any memories of your school canteen?
The smell and the pushing and shoving!

Save Our School Dinners… Jamie! shows at the Belgrade 12-15 September. Tickets are available to book now.