Belfast Telegraph

Friday People: Karen Torley

The 46-year-old, who is originally from Edinburgh, is the founder and director of Banyan Theatre Company, which will be bringing its puppet show, Little Red Riding Hood, to the Belfast Children's Festival next month. She lives in Londonderry with daughter Sophie (15).

* My partner, Chris Harte

Chris and I met at a gig through mutual friends and spent the evening chatting. When the gig was over we went outside and saw a busker playing a guitar. Chris took the guitar off him and started to play it -- soon there was a huge crowd of people singing and dancing.

We've now been together for nine years.

Chris works in Seagate but he plays bass and double bass, primarily for a Thin Lizzy tribute band.

* My daughter, Sophie

I've worked with children for the last 25 years, so I was delighted when Sophie came along. She's amazing and very creative. She's doing her GCSEs at the moment but doesn't know what she wants to do yet. I would say it will be something artistic.

She's hoping to go to university in Scotland, where I'm from, so I'll really miss her if she leaves.

* My best friends

I have no family here, so my friends -- Chrissie Gallagher, her partner Elaine Power and Catherine McAtavey -- mean the world to me.

I met Chrissie when we were doing a media course on women in television. We were like chalk and cheese when we met so we didn't like each other at all at first, but now I couldn't imagine life without her. I met Elaine because she's Chrissie's partner and is an amazing ball of energy. Catherine sings in one of Chris's bands and we just clicked when we met eight years ago.

* My parents

My parents, Patricia McVey and Jim Torley, split when I was very young, so I have two separate families. Mum and dad both live in Scotland; mum is the front of house manager in the family puppet theatre near Edinburgh. My dad works as a industrial electrician.

I also have two half-sisters. On my mum's side I have one called Claire, and one called Cara on my dad's side. They're both quite a bit younger than me but I'm close to both as well as being close to my parents. I speak to them all the time but I don't get home too often.

My parents are very happy with what I do -- there's lots of creative arts in my mum's family and my dad's family think I'm a bit mad!

* Who I go to for advice

I go to my partner, my best friends or my mum, depending on what advice I need.

Chrissie Gallagher is the one who brings me back down to earth, though.

* My mentor

It's Miriam Lambert, who runs the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Dublin. She's a puppeteer and has directed shows for me. She's full of inspiration and ideas.

* My secret crush is... Glen Hansard

Glen is a singer-songwriter who was in The Frames. I met him in Dublin at a Thin Lizzy celebration and was a bit starstruck. I chatted to him and he gave me a big hug -- he was so friendly I couldn't help but have a crush on him.

* My fantasy dinner party

First I'd ask Norman Wisdom, who I have loved since I was a child. I wrote to him a couple of times before he died and he actually wrote back. Then I would ask Elvis, who was nearly my celebrity crush. My bedroom used to be covered in posters of him.

Next would be the late Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott; I'm friends with his mother Philomena who comes to visit when Chris organises gigs. He was such a dynamic character, but I never got to see him play live so I'd love to have him for dinner.

Finally, I would ask singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, who is an amazing strong, talented woman -- and she could sing while I cook.

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