That Was the Summer that Was

As one starts a new venture it often prompts reflection upon our current/ previous situation. This has certainly been the case for me… And though these reflections have mainly been cast at 6 am as I sit on the X90 bus to London they have been fairly clear! I surprise myself!

I have had a fantastically busy summer holiday. I was involved with two performing projects; The Bureau of Silly Sports (BOSS) and BOUND. BOSS was utter silliness, delightful in its playfulness and in its determination to involve members of the public in truly silly, 1950’s style sports. It was joyous to play Dotty Withers, a rather chatty woman with a tendency to overstep the innuendo mark and an interest in all things gossip. My hips, thighs and calves were worked out through games of broom hockey, silly walks, on the ground tightrope walking and human table football. We had some beautiful, sporting audiences but one of the most memorable audiences visited us in a shopping centre next to City Hall inLondon. A fantastically enthusiastic group of men with special needs put us all to shame as they delighted in being free and able to take part in these largely noncompetitive games. An environment where a lack of inhibition was an advantage.
All sports were followed by a call for crumpets as the (wonderful) team leapt off .

I also had the immense privilege of working with a group of young people / adults with varying degrees of difficulties, some physical, some learning based, some purely social. Myself and musician Emily Marshall ran a summer school for the Oxford based organisation PARASOL in conjunction with the Pegasus theatre. In five days an extraordinary collection of young people spent their mornings creating a set and props before heading to the studio to create a show. The script went out of the window on day one when we discovered our cast. Together we created a performance of 20 minutes that somehow played to as many bizarre and wonderful strengths as you can imagine. It was a most moving and most worthwhile project, one that reinforces the already deep knowledge that the ARTS ARE KEY. (Are you listening Mr Gove?).

When not engaging in Silly sports or teaching amazing young people, I was rehearsing for BOUND. A show about human trafficking. It was intense and stressful as devised work usually is… But the outcome was great. Of course the show could have done with a bit of extra time, it’s the nature of work made by artists who also have to work in restaurants, schools and theatre box offices. BUT, it was incredibly well received.
You can read a review here;

So, having finished Bound on the 5th October I spent the 6th cooking meals that I could freeze in preparation of the tornado about to hit our family.
On Monday 7th October, with my clown partner going away on tour, I left Oxford and headed to my first day of drama school. Logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare, 2 kids..partner on tour….lack of funding… Travelling at 6 am to get to London in time BUT and this is a big BUT something incredible happened. I discovered 28 year old me. Full of joy, enthusiasm and my sense of humour made a slight return! I’m not going to hark on too much about this but something happens to (some) women when they have children, it’s a loss of identity thing… I’m no psychologist..though having spoken to many mums over the years it seems to be quite common. Possibly because we grow up,rightly, believing that we can be something other than a mum, we spend years forging out our lives with ( whatever we have decided to become ) defining us, it is a bizarre moment when the ” it’s a boy” balloons deflate and you realise you are almost invisible compared with your beautiful baby. Plus, it’s almost impossible to continue being the person you have created in FULL anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mum as well… But it’s different.

Anyway, the point of this is that I rediscovered some long buried bit of Emma. I’m knitting for Britain on the bus, I’m talking to my partner for hours on end, I’m feeling as if I have something to say, at last! I’m working on bits of homework until 11 at night instead of being asleep on the sofa at 9. I’m thinking about bodies, about theatre, about teaching about how I can be better at all of the above.

Mostly I’m thinking about how lucky I am. How lucky to be going to drama school after wanting to go since I was 16. How lucky that I waited until now and didn’t go when I was 16. How lucky that I have my beautiful family to come home to and a wonderfully supportive partner to pick up my tired bones at the end of the week.

If you would like to help with my funding logistics just a £6.00 donation gets me to class in the morning. You can donate here. I’d be ever so grateful!

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