Jessica Layton - Theatre Director & Performer

Photo by Pete Knight

Photo by Pete Knight

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

When I was 20, I travelled to Australia by myself to meet my Dad for the first time. It took a lot of courage for many reasons and I found a strength in me that I didn't know existed.

What motivates you to do what you do?

George Bernard Shaw once said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable”. I love making people laugh and taking away their problems. This is the main reason I wanted to perform. I love escaping reality and being a different character on stage and sharing that journey with the audience. I am also motivated by young people and believe that drama and performance is key in their development. In this ever growing world of technology, drama in schools is essential in helping to encourage and teach skills such as communication, listening, self awareness, confidence and emotional intelligence.

What do you owe your mother?

Hmmm about £100,000! My mum has taught me to never give up, to always assert myself and to never settle for second best. She is awesome.

Which women inspire you and why?

Michelle Obama - What a formidable, humble and important woman. I love what she is doing for women and girls around the world. Deborah Francis-White - She is a comedian and female activist. She has appeared on comedy panel shows as the only woman and doesn't let the men forget it! I love listening to her podcast 'The Guilty Feminist'. Each week different female comedians discuss what it's like to be a 21st Century feminist and the obstacles we have to face. As well as being brilliantly funny it also highlights serious issues that us women deal with every day. 

What are you reading?

I am a member of the Hypatia Trust’s Young Women’s Book Club and our current book is ‘Evening in Paradise’ by Lucia Berlin.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

There are many barriers in the theatre world and so much is male-dominated. However, I am lucky enough to work with great men who have been nothing but supportive and encouraging in my recent directing venture with Seven Stones Theatre Company.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

We need to make the world a safer place for women. To do this we need to educate children from an early age on what are acceptable and appropriate ways to treat each other. To make the world a safer and better place for women and for everyone, we only need to start small. We must end bullying in schools and we must use education to teach about empathy, love and respect. By doing this, all children will leave schools as equals and have mutual respect for everyone.

Describe your perfect day?

Waking up hangover free (!) on a sunny Sunday in Autumn in a clean and tidy home with Joni Mitchell on full blast. Quick morning yoga, eggs for breakfast, a mug of hot coffee and the crossword. I will gather my best friends for a beach walk and a pub lunch, then drinks and a game of scrabble in front of a cosy fire. I love living in Cornwall and I am so lucky that the sea is right on my doorstep!

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Rowena Cade. She built The Minack Theatre into the side of a cliff hauling sand up from Porthcurno beach! I am surprised that so many people don’t know of her. She is a legend! 

Give us a tip?

Don’t hold grudges. Accepting and letting go of what has happened in the past will leave room for great things to happen in the present and future. 

About Jess Jessica Layton is a local performer, director and theatre practitioner based in Penzance. Since graduating from Bath Spa School of Music and Performing Arts in 2013 she has been working as an actor with various theatre companies across Cornwall. Her most recent roles include Lady Windermere in 'Lady Winderemere's Fan', Alice in 'The Vicar of Dibley' and Passepartout in 'Around the World in 80 Days'. She is currently directing and performing in 'A Vicar of Dibley Christmas' with Seven Stones Theatre Company at The Acorn Theatre from Wednesday 19th December - Friday 21st December. Tickets are available via this link: