Handbagged by Moira Buffini

Norwich Actor Marie Cooper portraying Margaret Thatcher

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

11 October – 20 October 2018

Handbagged

 

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

Cast:

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

Spirit of the Place with the Jenny Lind Arts Project

Spirit of the Place Norwich

From Workshop to Playwriting

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.

Wall of Feedback for Spirit of the Place

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Come into the Garden, Maud by Noel Coward

Photo of Anna Mary becoming increasing irritated at Verner interrupting - Photo onstage during Come into the Garden Maud onstage during Come into the Garden Maud

The Assembly House, Norwich

30 January – 3 February 2018

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.

All photographs for Come into the Garden, Maud were taken during the dress rehearsal by Andrew Cliffe of Norwich Photo Motorsport Photography http://www.norwichphoto.co.uk/

 

 

 

Larkrise at Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Mrs Blaby and Mrs Peverill in Larkrise

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.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Evans

Candleford at Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Photograph of Mrs Macey played by Marie Cooper and Dorcas Lane played by Lyn Smith in Candleford at Sewell Barn Theatre

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.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Evans