In Stewart Burke’s ‘Murder in Neighbour Watch’ at Great Hall Theatre at the Assembly House in Norwich, I played Ann Wingate. Oct – Nov 2019
Ann gave up her career as a travel courier to become the dutiful headmaster’s wife to her husband, Andrew. Ann felt stifled to have settled in the village of West Lynstead, near Worthing, with it’s coffee mornings full of gossips and people in and out of each others’ houses.
She returns from three months away on holiday in New Zealand visiting her parents, to find that village life has been turned upside down by a murder in local woodland.
Feedback following the performances were positive. There were some funny moments at the start of the play and the cast worked incredibly well to bring the characters to life.
Audiences seemed to enjoy it, discussing who they thought had committed the murder during the interval. I did not enjoy the play, in and of itself, but I did like pushing myself out of my comfort zone in terms of line-learning once again and the challenge of the emotions that Ann is put through when she returns home.
Thanks to a recommendation from a lovely director, who I worked with at Great Hall, I got an email from Dreamstone Productions, asking if I would like to work with them on a Murder Mystery event in Norfolk.
I was nervous, and at first and wasn’t sure whether to say yes. It’s been some time since I’ve performed anything so improvised, but I was emboldened by my director having confidence in my acting ability.
I am immensely happy that I went along. It was a fantastic evening. I worked alongside some great actors and gained new experience in working in immersive, improvised theatre. It’s been relatively busy workwise over the past few weeks and I am feeling incredibly grateful and fortunate to be surrounded by talented artists and doing work that I love.
Check out the Dreamstone website or Facebook page to get more information about their upcoming Murder Mystery evenings in and around East Anglia…
Reading Time: < 1minuteKey Casting were in Norwich in April looking for extras for filming of the Netflix film Jingle Jangle. I needed to send over some updated casting photographs. Nothing complicated or expensive. Just a few selfies to show that my face and hair haven’t metamorphosised since my last photos. Which is a fair enough request. My hair used to change more frequently than my underpants. I feel that I should emphasise that my hair used to change colour a lot. It’s not that my underpants were only changed a little.
In my failing to have the ‘strike a pose’ superpower, (where do people learn that?) it took me a mindbogglingly huge amount of time little time just to get a handful of photos that I was (even close to) happy with.
I thought I might as well pop the serious photographs up here on the website. Along with the not so serious ones. It saves me having to find out where in the folders of laptop hell, I have hidden them at some later date.
Someone Waiting gave me the opportunity to perform a small, challenging but fun role. Hilda, the maid with an interesting past.
I managed to tick quite a few things off of my acting bucket list during this production. One of which included slapping one of my fellow actors. It turned out to be surprisingly effective. The audience oooooh’d and gasped when Hilda struck Mr Nedlow across the face. I was very pleased with this as we had practised it a number of times. Hilda’s slap managed to shock the audience, despite my not making any contact with Mr Nedlow’s face at all.
I also had to perform drunk. What I mean is, I acted drunk whilst on stage, I didn’t actually get drunk to perform. I got some nice comments from fellow actors saying that Hilda was nicely drunk and that it wasn’t overly done, which I am very pleased about. Acting drunk is a tricky thing to do convincingly, whilst still trying to enunciate so that the audience can hear.
An in-depth review of the play was written by Rob Fradley-Wilde and published on Facebook and in the Great Hall Theatre Company newsletter.
“the maid Hilda was able to go to her death with style, in Marie Cooper’s vivacious and feisty example of the mid-twentieth-century servant class. “
Andrew Cliffe of Norwich Photo photographed the following images during the dress rehearsal of Someone Waiting.
Hilda Marie Cooper Mrs Danecourt Glenda Gardiner John Nedlow Chris Higgins Vera Nedlow Samantha Elmhurst Martin Steven Logsdon Walter Fenn Kevin Ford Miss Lennie Rachel Miller
The photos below were taken by members of the cast
The fantastic photographs for Handbagged were taken during the dress rehearsal by Sean Owen of Reflective Arts
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.
This was my absolute favourite role so far by miles, one of my proudest achievements and most challenging, as it was the first time I’d attempted to portray someone who actually existed. It was also the most lines I had had to learn at that time as well as the most time I had needed to be on stage for, Mrs Thatcher and the Queens are on the stage for all but a few minutes of the play.
The pressure was on as I didn’t have much time to prepare. The person who was originally cast dropped out just before rehearsals began, so I didn’t have anywhere near as much time to prepare as I would have done had I got the role just after auditions. It was a race against time to research and learn lines, whilst simultaneously rehearsing. Thankfully I had, that very morning, completed and handed in the last course work of my MA so I knew I would have the time to invest into the role.
Mrs Thatcher was most definitely not someone I shared the politics of. Yet it was a little disturbing (and helpful) during my research, to find that the ‘Milk Snatcher’ and I did, surprisingly, have some things in common, other than being female. We both studied for a degree in Chemistry and contained the resilience and perservance to stand up and fight for what we want and believe in, to not let anyone stand in our way of what we aim to acheive.
Directed by Clare 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 Protester.
Lily by Yuqian Tong – Filmed 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.
If you are interested in finding out more about the film and director/producer, you can find more details, including Director Biography, overview of the movie, specs, credits, production photos over at FilmFreeway.
Filming with IWFilms on the Norfolk Coast
12th February 2018
I spent an enjoyable afternoon on the film shoot for ‘Hellthy’ in a traditional pub on the Norfolk coast, with IWFilms, director Stephen Willis, 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 produced by IW Films and directed by Stephen Willis.
Synopis: “A psychopath kidnaps addicts and forces them through torturous rehabilitation”
The filming for this scene was in Great Yarmouth on 12th February 2018.
Norwich Theatre: Great Hall Theatre Company, 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, performed together, by The Great Hall Theatre Company.
First time in The Round
Come into the Garden, Maud was performed ‘in the round’, with an audience on all four sides. I hadn’t performed in that configuration before. It was a challenging but fun, exploring the space and being open to the audience on all four sides.
I didn’t originally audition for the role of Anna-Mary. 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.
I had to learn more lines than I’ve ever needed to before. My character was American, so, I had to learn lines in an American accent for the first time. I also had to learn some badly pronounced French, in an American accent. I got some laughs at my attempts at French. 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.
It was a huge production and the final show at Sewell Barn for the Director, Robert Little. It was great fun and a privilege to be part of the wonderfully large and diverse cast, with ages ranging from young teens, through to students from the University of East Anglia’s drama course, right up to the not-quite-so-young seventies. It was one big, happy theatrical family. I even got to share the stage with one of the actors from Harry Potter, the young Sirius Black, Rohan Gotobed, and it’s not every day I get to say that.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Evans
Written by Keith Dewhurst Adapted from the novels by Flora Thompson
Directed by Robert Little with Sewell Barn Theatre
Music Directed by Michelle Glover Photography by Andrew Evans
Emma Timms Wendy Atkinson Albert Timms Martin Dabbs Laura Timms Connie Reid Laura Timms Charlotte Woollsey Edmund Timms Bradley Flint Bishie Shem Jacobs Boamer Chad Mason Old David / Dick / Twister Terry Dabbs Pumpkin Colin Barrett (Baz) Old Price / Old Postie / Grandfather / Rector Dave Dixon Bailiff / Doctor / Squire Bracewell Robert Little Old Stut / Tramp Danny Burns Fisher Liam Purshouse Jerry Parish / Cheapjack Rohan Gotobed Mrs Spicer / Garibaldi Jacket Ruth Howitt Mrs Blaby / Mrs Beamish Marie Cooper Mrs Peverill / Queenie Ros Mace Old Sally Anne Giles Mr Sharman / Landlord Peter Jackson Mrs Miller / Mrs Andrews Diane Webb Martha Beamish Connie Reed Martha Beamish Charlotte Woollsey John Price Sam Webber Polly Ella Daymond
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.
Reading Time: < 1minuteSomething 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.