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KayK

KAY KORÉ
Deceased, January 2022

Group Director, The Young Theatre (at Harrow), 1969-1971
Honorary Life Member of The Young Theatre, 1992-2022

Having cunningly avoided World War II by a few months, and survived a bout of pneumonia at four months by a whisker; Kay Wright, then Locker, a.k.a. Koré (we'll come back to that later), pursued a varied career based mainly on stealthy disobedience and well-disguised non-conformity; with the surprising result that although many people found her annoying, she also succeeded in bringing a good many round to her way of seeing things.

After initially training as a dancer (not a good idea—OK at the artistic bit but a carthorse amongst gazelles) Kay became involved with Harrow YT through a fellow student at the New College of Speech and Drama, being first dragged in to assist with make-up on The Sea King's Daughter. Having subsequently, and painfully, played a sinking Spanish galleon in The Critic, she got hooked, and spent every spare moment (and some that weren't) down at St Alban's Church Hall until she left college and (having discovered that she could not act) went into rep; first as lighting designer/engineer at Chelmsford Civic Theatre—one of the last weekly rep companies—then as an ASM at Colchester Rep.

Importance YTNH em
Kay (centre) playing Lady Bracknell in YT North Harrow’s production of
The Importance of Being Earnest” in 1972...

In a fit of insanity (one of many) she turned down promotion to stage manager at Colchester to become Group Director of Harrow YT, making ends meet (just about) as a kind of nanny to the designers in the Royal Opera House Production Wardrobe. The official job title was “stockroom assistant”; the job entailed either finding the fabrics, trimmings etc., the designers wanted; or more often (Kay's way) persuading them that what they really wanted was what was available and within budget. She continued working with YT off and on until the Harrow group closed, directing (a high-spot being the taking of St George and the Dragon round local parks on a horse and cart for the Queen's silver jubilee); production managing; and generally doing anything and everything. There was also an episode with blooding people up for The Deserted House at Beaconsfield YT!

She believed that her most important purpose in YT—and that of YT itself—was to help members find out who they are and what they can do; and how to co-operate and to commit to a shared goal. That is why what was rather rudely called the Kay Koré Memorial Rosebowl by some old-timers, was provided for presentation to the member who contributes the most, in whatever capacity, to YT, initially at North Harrow, then subsequently transferred to the Beaconsfield group when Harrow ceased to be.

Why the name? Well—blame that on Ian Wallace who demanded (circumstances lost in the mists of time) a stage name at a couple of hours' notice. Koré is the unforbidden name of Persephone, an early bit of acting. It also proved a mistake, leading to countless phone calls from people asking Is that Miss Cor? (It is actually pronounced as in croquet. [Or café - ed.])

Subsequent activities included 20 years making waves at the Public Record Office (now the National Archives), followed by almost as long as a slightly maverick counsellor / psychotherapist / hypnotherapist. At the age of 48 she took up ice dance, and skated her socks off until a contretemps with a ladder put paid to it. She also continued theatrical activities as a sort of ad hoc street stand-up, and is proud to have thereby defused a very nasty incident over the parsnips in Tesco Christmas 2012!

In 2005 she moved to Lancashire; and on retirement began writing ‘Doing Life’, interrupted by several years of caring for her mother (new project ‘On Going Over the Hill and Round the Bend’)! Then typically she veered wildly off course into a new career as a volunteer at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, helping rehabilitate traumatised sight-hounds—walking dogs, manning the shop, gardening, cleaning—i.e.: a general dogsbody! However she did maintain a theatrical flourish by running the coconut shies on Open Days in glittering hat and waistcoat, and barking with the best, until an ageing back called ‘time’.

In 2008, she began her “capers with cancer”—continuing at Bleakholt between operations and treatments until the Covid pandemic lockdown locked-out volunteers and she embarked on what she hoped would be her great ‘comic oeuvre’.. ‘Me & My Stoma’ (having a stoma is very like having a baby—emotionally and practically demanding—but without the compensating cute factor) However, a spanner was flung into that work on 14th October 2020 by a terminal liver cancer diagnosis and a life deadline (?!) of three months—with the consequent scramble to put her affairs in order.

Kay believed that with both life and YT, you get out of it in proportion to what you put in; and that if you do it with humour, delight and a sense of purpose you'll double the impact and halve the pain. And that went with her attitude to the process of dying too, and a friend predicted that she would be banging on the coffin lid shouting “I haven’t finished yet …!”—which she felt would be an excellent title for a posthumous autobiography!

Just six months before she died, IRW asked her if she’d like to update this Archive “CV” …which she did—and she added this final paragraph…

“She died on (insert date) defying the odds by surviving not three but (insert number) months, and proceeded to the crematorium with characteristic dignity in a coffin decorated with a rainbow of balloons stuck on with gaffer tape (technician to the last gasp and beyond). It is rumoured that loud banging and muffled oaths were heard as the coffin slid majestically from view—but maybe that was just the workmen outside! At least the Kay Koré Memorial Rosebowl can now live up to its sardonic nickname!!” Typical Kay to the last trump!!

She died peacefully on 16th January 2022 having duly defied the odds by surviving not three but sixteen months!


Notes.

 
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The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield) - Historical Information and a link to the Beaconsfield Group's own home page with the Box Office for new productions
The Young Theatre (Harrow). Historical Information.
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