The bad thing (and good thing – I hate seeing and/or hearing myself) about theatre is that you never get to see the play. Especially for Handbagged, as we were on the stage for almost the entire duration of the play…and yes, this was a worry if nature called. This means that I am always immensely excited when the pre-show photographs are released. For Handbagged, the fantastic photographs were taken during the dress rehearsal by Sean Owen of Reflective Arts
Directed by Claire Williamson
Alexandra Evans – Mrs T Marie Cooper – Mags Mandy Kiley – Liz Gill Tichbourne – Q
Kevin Olreich Denis Thatcher, Peter Carrington, Gerry Adams, Ronald Reagan, Michael Heseltine, Arthur Scargill, Rupert Murdoch, Geoffrey Howe and Prince Phillip.
Will Harragan Palace Footman, Kenneth Kaunda, Nancy Reagan, Enoch Powell, Michael Shea, Neil Kinnock, Kenneth Clarke, and a Protestor
Lily by Yuqian Tong – Filmed on location in Norwich, August 17th – 18th 2018
I found myself very quickly attempting to learn lines in August. An unanticipated opportunity popped up to take part in the short film, Lily by Yuqian Tong. The film was written, produced and directed by the student filmmaker who is currently studying here in Norwich at the University of East Anglia.
The photos below were taken by Tuqian Tong on set during filming.
It all escalated quite fast. One evening I turned up for a free scriptwriting workshop being run by the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Danny O’Hara with the Slow Theatre Company. I thought it would be a great help to learn some new creative writing techniques and generate some ideas to kickstart my creative coursework.
It turned out that writers could submit a piece of their work to be part of the project’s performance in June 2018. The next thing I knew, not only was my “Abandoned Places” script, with Megan and Josh, included as part of the theatrical promenade piece, but I was acting in it too, as the Spirit of the Place.
It was an immensely ambitious and unique piece of community theatre, a promenade piece composed entirely of local writer’s work which was then beautifully sewn together with the words of playwright Danusia Iwaszko, who created the Spirit of the Place as a guide, leading the audience around the stage, following the walkways, green areas and stairwells that make up the community space. There were many people working incredibly hard to bring the show together, both performing and behind the scenes, . It would not have been the same if even just one person had not been there.
I grew up, an artistic child, in an area of Norwich that was in the top 10% of the most deprived areas of the country. For poor families, this meant that opportunities to get involved in the arts were next to zero outside of the school curriculum. So, the opening up of provision of the arts for everyone, no matter what their background or income, is something very close to my heart. The work that the Jenny Lind Project does, bringing the arts into local communities is invaluable.
And I Saw my World From my Home
The short film, ‘And I saw my world from my Home’, is a collaboration between the Jenny Lind Arts Project, BBC Voices and the Suffolk Square community. The footage is composed of clips that we filmed around the area. The poetry and readings are by the local community. The poem I am reading between 2:09 and 2:58 is by writer and poet, Salah El Nagar. Other contributors to the movie include: Cate Oliver and myself.
It was a privilege to be part of the project. I have some wonderful new people in my life. People who I might never have even met if I’d not gone along to a little community script writing workshop a few months ago. My life has been enriched for taking part. I hope the community feels the positive effects of the project long into the future.
I spent an enjoyable afternoon on the film shoot for Hellthy in a traditional pub on the Norfolk coast, with IW Films, Paul Goldsmith, Clive Stubbs, Steve Dunn and Tilly.
I have not had many (and when I say many, I mean any) performances before, where a pint glass containing real beer (well, when I say beer, I mean Shandy) has been put down in front of me as part of the set and I am allowed to drink it. Not that I am complaining mind.
I was having a chat with the landlady and she told me that the pub had also, many years ago, been used to film an episode of ‘The Chief’.
As well as meeting some lovely new people , I also met the extremely friendly and handsome ‘Blue’. Blue decided that he would rather have a cuddle on my lap than go for a walk. He was such a cutie, but he was highly jiggly when I was trying to take a selfie with him. I didn’t realise I had left my sunglasses on my head, until filming was over and I attempted the dog selfie.
Hellthy is being produced by IW Films and directed by Stephen Willis.
“A Psychopath kidnaps addicts, torturing them into forced rehabilitation. Hellthy. Coming 2018” IW Films
I played Anna-Mary Conklin, in ‘Come into the Garden, Maud’. One of two short plays by Noel Coward which were performed together, by The Great Hall Theatre Company from 30th January to 3rd February 2018.
Staged at Norwich Assembly House in Norwich, Come into the Garden, Maud was performed ‘in the round’, with an audience on all four sides. It was very much a play of firsts for me. I hadn’t performed in that configuration before so it was a challenging but fun experience getting to explore using the space and being open to the audience from all angles.
I did not originally audition for the role of Anna-Mary, so I was a little surprised, but very happy to be offered her. She is quite an unpleasant, dominating character, whose attitude to her friends could spin on a dime. The character involved my learning more lines than I have ever previously been required to learn. Also, she was American, so not only did I have to learn my lines in an American accent for the first time, but I also had to learn some badly pronounced French in an American accent. I got some laughs at my attempts at French so hopefully the audience thought I was acting and didn’t realise my French actually is that bad.
On the rainy afternoon of 4th November 2017, I met with the Norwich University of the Arts production team at the Owl Sanctuary in Norwich to film some scenes from their short movie, ‘Syncopated’, directed by Edward Heredia.
I was playing a rather nasty piece of work. A boss of a strip club who dominated her girls, who was so tied into her own seedy existence that she had a seething jealousy, and bullied any of her girls looking to escape the business. She was prone to getting drunk and out of control if she felt she was losing control.
It was an exciting day of firsts. The first time I had performed in a film other than as an extra, the first time I had had somebody else do my make-up and the first time I have had to enact on-screen violence. It was challenging. I almost caught our other lovely actor on the first slap attempt.
The character was great fun to play and sometimes challenging to snap instantly from team giggles, because I’d almost just squashed one of the team behind a slammed door, and then trying to get back my composure (probably not the right word for anger) and focused with my character’s intent. I can not wait to see how it all came out. The photos below were taken by the production team, before and during filming.
In Larkrise, performed at Sewell Barn Theatre in Norwich, I played Mrs Blaby and Mrs Beamish.
Mrs Blaby always seemed to be hanging about outside her cottage, gossiping with the other women-folk of Larkrise. She had a love of dressy fashion, despite mostly being a year out of it by today’s standards, as she relied on her daughter sending her clothes parcels from London.
Heavily pregnant Mrs Beamish was proudly getting her young daughter Martha all smart and ready to find her petty place in Larkrise so that she could earn her own living. With a new mouth to feed on the way, the family needed the income. A year in training and Martha might be ready to move on to proper gentleman’s service.
In Candleford, performed at Sewell Barn Theatre in Norwich, I played the dour, prim and proper Mrs Macey. She lived with her young son, ‘Tommy’ and ‘Snowball’ her cat, as her husband was away, travelling abroad with his gentleman. Or so she told everyone in the post office. Dorcas, the Post Mistress General, was the only person Mrs Macey trusted with the truth.
In summer, Berlin’s TheatreFragile group came and performed ‘We Meet in Paradise’ at The Forum at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, 2017.
In the run up to the two evenings of performances, TheatreFragile ran acting workshops for the local participants, specifically focused on performing in masks. The voices in the audio were of real refugees who had been forced to flee their own countries because it had become too dangerous for them and their families to stay. As performers we acted out the experiences but their voices and stories were their own. We provided the stage for their stories.
It followed the refugees’ harrowing escape, across the sea at the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers, who took advantage of the travellers’ adversity, to the confusing, stressful and worrying time landing on the shores of a new land where they did not speak the language.
‘We meet in Paradise’ was a beautifully choreographed and moving piece of theatre, which engaged the audience and pulled them, literally, onto the stage to participate at the end of the performance and to end on a heartwarming, inclusive and welcoming celebration of mixed cultures.
Something a little different from 2016. The Common Lot were asked to be ushers for Norwich’s Halloween Spooky Parade. It sounded fun so I went along to the initial ideas meet up, but I didn’t have the faintest idea of what I wanted to dress up as or perform on the night. In a serendipitous turn of events, Max had decided he wanted to play a creepy Pied Piper, but he didn’t have any rats so Harriet and I scurried to the rescue.
Masks, tails and a bag of stale bread later, speckled with food dye to make it look mouldy, and we were let loose on Norwich. It was great fun, running between the participants, guiding the way along the parade and trying to share our bready feast. Things didn’t always go to plan as I ended up being chased around the crowd by some of the braver children. Whilst others just peeked out from behind the legs of their parents, only daring to come out when daddy said it was ok.
Apparently I make a very good rat. Lots of people stopped me to take photos that evening. This image above is just one of many photographs, taken at Spooky Parade by Wireless Pix.