Handbagged at Sewell Barn Theatre

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Letting go of Margaret Thatcher

I never thought that I would ever use the words ‘I am sad to be letting go of Margaret Thatcher’. Our run of Moria Buffini’s ‘Handbagged’ at Sewell Barn Theatre is complete. We are already history. Our wigs and costumes have been packed away and we have swept and painted the stage back to black.

“Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word.”
Mrs Thatcher

I still can not believe that I managed to get all of my lines into my head in time.
I got the email asking if I could step in and take on ‘Mags’ on the afternoon of 3rd September, I was on stage for rehearsals that very evening and we started the show on 11th October.

Just five and a half weeks to rehearse in the evenings and get all my lines into my head. I still don’t know how I managed it. I definitely couldn’t have made it without the help of my fellow Thatcher  actor,  Mrs T, Alexandra Evans who gave up hours of her time to run lines with me. She is an absolute star!

‘Where There is Doubt, May we Bring Faith’
Mrs Thatcher

There is still a little niggley (Un-Thatcher like) squirrel of doubt inside my head that keeps saying, if only I’d had more time, I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve… done it better. But I need to shoo that squirrel away and focus on the achievement. It was the longest I have ever been on stage. The most lines I have ever had to learn, in the shortest period of time. I have never played such a hugely iconic, historical, political figure. Whilst politically it would have horrified me to be compared to her, after getting to know her a little over the past weeks, I was quite taken aback at the entrepreneurial and libertarian similarities I began to see that we shared.  It was good to walk in her heels for a short while and yet good to kick them off at the end.

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”
Mrs Thatcher

Handbagged Reviews

Below are some of the lovely things that people had to say about the show. I will pop the photos from the production onto to my portfolio when the photographer has finished working his magic on them.

Handbagged Review

Handbagged Review 2

For further reviews of the show, check out the Sewell Barn blog 

Handbagged at Sewell Barn Theatre

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A quick update because I have been busier than a busy thing. I’ve been looking for work after completing my master’s, doing interviews , Simulated Patient/Roleplay training as well as rehearsals for Handbagged.

We only have a few days of dress rehearsals and tech to go. Then we begin performances of ‘Handbagged’ from 11th October. I stepped in for someone who had to pull out, so it’s been an intense few weeks. I’ve had to very quickly learn the play on the fly. It’s been much more challenging than having most of the lines in my head prior to rehearsals. I have got there, by the skin of my teeth, thanks to the lovely Alexandra who helped me run lines.


Cassie, the Artistic Director for Sewell Barn Theatre came along and caught our rehearsal yesterday evening and had some lovely things to say on Facebook about the production.

The photographs below were from our rehearsal three weeks ago and were posted to Sewell Barn Theatre’s Facebook page.

Back to Acting…

Photo of Marie Cooper's script for Handbagged
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Playing Mags

I know I’m always going on about serendipity, but Monday at 3pm was the deadline for my final MA coursework. At 3:05pm, I got an email asking if I would like to step in to help Sewell Barn Theatre. They’d lost one of their cast members because they were unwell. This left them needing someone to step in to play Margaret Thatcher. Back to acting within 5 minutes of my course ending.

I’m slightly concerned that there’s not long to learn lines, but there was no way I could turn it down. I knew I would regret it. It was like the universe had thrown it in my lap and said, ‘There! You wanted this so badly. Your course is done. Well, there you are! Go work your ass off. You got this!’. Then I was straight into rehearsals that evening.

Along for the ride

So, with barely time to skid to a halt after my Master’s, I’ve hit the acting ground running this week. I spent the most amazing couple of hours on the Mid-Norfolk Railway for a promotional photo shoot.  Working alongside a lovely bunch of actors, I bumped into a few familiar faces, and met some actors who were totally new to me.  I haven’t seen the resulting photographs and don’t like my photo-face at the best of times, let alone pulling those faces.  No one but the crew and fellow actors, knows what I was up to that day, yet. so it will be interesting to see if anyone notices if/when the photographs go public 😀


I’ve also been pencilled in for some potential commercial work next week, but I’m still waiting to hear back about that. It was the first time I’ve ever been asked to supply a photograph of my hands. When the email arrived, I was alone in the house. Being the owner of just two hands, I quickly realised that it was going to be tricky to photograph both of them at once.  I was very nervous having my phone, clamped onto my tripod, face down, knowing it could smash if it dropped out.  I can’t say that it’s the greatest photo I have ever taken, but it’s enough to show that my hands are enantiomorphic and have the correct number of digits.

Sorry, not sorry

It would be too easy now to worry about how little money I have at the moment, coming out of my degree, and how much of a struggle it’s going to be to claw myself back to some semblance of normality in my finances. But I don’t see how sitting about feeling sorry for myself would help in any way.  So I won’t. As always, I choose to focus on the positives. I’ve completed my Master’s now, achieving what I set out to do, in spite of the challenges. I am working with some amazing and talented performers on multiple projects coming up, both this year and into the next.  I am grateful for how incredibly lucky I am doing work that I love, for the opportunities I have, the talented and caring people I am meeting along the journey and that I am learning something new almost every day.

Incomplete Script For my Eyes Only

fragmented incomplete script
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About to send out my very petite and imperfectly formed, incomplete script. So far it has been for my eyes only and for good reason. It is exceedingly rough, fragmented, and far from close to being finished. So much so, that I felt the need to go through it and liberally prop it up with additional text, explaining the bits that are missing (some of which are still in my head…and some that aren’t….yet).

I attempted to clarify some of the glaringly obvious plot holes and timeline discrepancies and bits that I am not quite sure how they will work on a stage as yet. Whilst also, quite deftly I think, avoiding mentioning that the major plot hasn’t even really been explained in what I have written so far. Although I really hope I have hinted at it a little, or my first draft is going to be even more rubbish than I am expecting it to be.  

I was asked if I was ready to perform any of my script at a Scratch night yet and hoping that the answer to that, is unlike my script, glaringly obvious 😂 

Read, Write, Chat – Micro Fiction – 28 July 2018

crazy maker micro fiction image of a dishevelled workshop
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In our Read, Write, Chat Meetup Group on Saturday, we were given the writing prompt: ‘Crazy Maker’ and given ten minutes to write. After my initial panic, as my brain squirrels went off like fireworks in my head, this is the little piece of micro fiction I created from it.

Crazy Maker

She knew it was going to seem crazy to everyone. Hell, it seemed crazy to her and if she couldn’t decide why she was doing it, how would anyone else? She pushed the two edges tightly together, willing the hot, sticky surfaces to stay stuck. How long would it take anyway. Should have read the instructions she mused, as she convinced herself that her arms were aching already.

On the first day, she saw the curved edge of rubber in the dusty, dirty gutter of the road. She sped by. On the second day she felt herself slow down to satiate her curiosity and try to figure out what the object was. On day three, she stopped pedalling, slowed to a dead stop, picked up the grubby, slightly greasy and grainy, black object and popped it, dirt and all, into her backpack.

It was in that moment that she knew she was going to create something with it. She didn’t know what. She didn’t know why. She knew the discarded pieces of roadside debris deserved better. Crazy! Mad! Everyone would think so. But she felt compelled to build something from the lost and the discarded.

©2018 Marie Cooper

Micro fiction

195 Words. Wow! 195? Is that all? It seemed like more. No wonder I am finding 500 per day so difficult. What a noob!