South Londoner Terenia Edwards was born in Tooting and grew up in West London. After seeing a young people’s production of Macbeth she fell in love with theatre and ‘felt an enormous sense of connection with everyone in the auditorium’. That feeling led to a belief that ‘the arts should be accessible for everyone’ and was a catalyst for much that has happened in her life since, writes Michael Holland.

Terenia trained as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and began her acting career at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough where she worked with Sir Alan Ayckbourn on his play ‘Hero’s Welcome’, though she will be best known for playing Rachel Verinder in BBC One’s ‘The Moonstone’ and appearing in the latest series of Endeavour on ITV.

In between acting jobs Terenia cruises the canals of London on a narrowboat she lives on with her partner, and volunteering in women’s domestic abuse services across London, facilitating drama workshops with service users.’  This is part of her mission to make the arts accessible to everyone. 

Bernhardt is a community of actors, musicians, and other performers which has been running for six years. ‘We meet once a month at Arch 468 in Loughborough Junction to share material we’re working on,’ says Terenia, adding, ‘The showcase events are always so special, it’s such a warm and accommodating environment where artists can completely bare their soul if they want to… I’ll never forget one night we hosted a few years ago when a poet got on stage and came out to her friends – the room completely erupted in applause, it was so inspiring.’

Ms Edwards’ tone changes as she tells me how women will re-enter an abusive relationship on average 7 times, and how she wants to work with these women through theatre workshops. A programme has been set up to start at Southwark Playhouse in September. The workshops will take place once a month and will be completely free for service users and ex-service users. They will cover a range of techniques over the year, as well as group singing and movement, free and discounted theatre tickets will be offered to participants with children during school holidays. There will also be the opportunity for participants to take part in showcases open to the public.

Evidently excited, Terenia gushes, ‘I believe that if we focus on empowering all women and building up their self worth and confidence then we could make a real difference.’

I believe her, and before I go she wants to make sure that everyone knows that ‘Everyone is welcome to our ‘creative nights’ and you can find us on Facebook by searching ‘Bernhardt’, or on twitter @bernhardtsoc for information about our upcoming events, where we will be fundraising for our workshop program.