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A Marvellous Bonkers Beast!

I work for the Old Fire Station as the Bookings and Administration Manager. I have been involved in an administrative capacity in previous Hidden Spire projects, Before the Tempest and Sawdust, but due to the pandemic and the effect on bookings and the increase in our internal produced work, I was given the temporary position of Acting Creative Project Manager. What this meant was trying to facilitate projects happening in November 2020 to October 2021. Not the easiest thing to do during a pandemic!  


For me personally, the pandemic has been interesting, because I’m quite an extroverted person. So to not be able to go and see things, not be able to interact with friends, family, or meet new people wasn’t easy. And then there I was, working from home in that headspace to coming back into work, being in a room of people who were being supportive, being creative and trying to make something happen. I was quite grateful for it.  


Part of the offer for the Creative Collective was various workshops which myself, Sarah and Rowan would organise. One of these was a singing workshop. I never thought that I was going to play music or have to sing; I was just going to be there as support. However, this particular workshop ended up being me, Rowan, Sarah and one other person. As soon as you have got small numbers you instantly feel like “well I kind of have to join in”. It really pushed me outside of my comfort zone, because I’ll sing in the shower but I won’t sing in front of other people. And I just thought “Well, I’m not a singer, I’ll just give it a go, see what comes out, and if it makes people’s ears bleed, then that’s what will happen!” But it was actually amazing. We just started off with humming, and then making odd noises, warming up. Then you’re just given free rein to sing whatever comes into your head. It was a bit like meditation in a way because you just lose yourself in the moment. I actually enjoyed it and I really surprised myself by holding the tune. Guy said afterwards “You’ve got a really beautiful voice” which I was very surprised about. He was saying “Oh, we’re definitely going to use this,” and it ended up being in the show and as part of the final ‘House of Noah ‘moment. I'd like to think it's given me more confidence not to be ashamed about what I think my voice is. I like hearing it back, I'm like "Actually you know that sounds really nice". It's a kind of shift in the way that you look at yourself. 


By taking part in and not just organising the workshops, I became part of the Creative Collective. Through the writing workshop I created a character that ended up being one of the main characters in the play. Out of my brain came Margarita the Greeter. I have always loved drag queens and I love that idea of old Hollywood. I was thinking about what it would be like if you were this kind of ageing starlet, that you had this ego and this idea of yourself, a bit like Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. You think you’re a star, but you are also very vulnerable.  I also love that slightly cheeky, dirty humour. I was really honoured that Margarita had made the final cut. Paul was born to play her and did a fantastic job of bringing her to life. She was such good fun! Going to that first performance with my housemates and my partner was really rewarding. A truly remarkable moment just being like “Yeah, I helped make this happen.”


I enjoy a challenge; I enjoy new tasks and taking risks. From the point where we started, to where we ended up, that was a real journey. And you had to adapt every single day to something different. There was never a typical day! I've done project management within my role, but for it to be the main focus ...I knew it was temporary so I could just put everything into it. Most of the time with project management you are looking after the budget, helping out with booking rooms and kind of helping a bit with the creative process, but not much, and often you have an external producer. But I kind of ended up being producer, part of the creative collective, part of the set design - kind of everything.  


However, that’s not to say there weren’t difficult moments. There were lots of points where I just had to take a step away, but I don't think I ever showed that to anyone else. I think I like to be that "carry on, keep going” person, be that kind of strength, and I think you need that, to have a few people that are like that. You also need to have the people that are going to be like "No, this is crazy, you can't do that", which is often where I operate, but it was nice to be part of the "Yeah, let's make this happen" side. There was a moment towards the end where we had to leave the room, and people wrote words about us in a card. It was really quite overwhelming and lovely, people were saying that I was like, the rock, and the heart of the project and altruistic and all these unbelievably kind words. And you think, I can be that and have that within me, and this is part of who I am. I don't ever feel like I need that kind of acknowledgement, but to have it in that moment, to feel seen and appreciated, was really wonderful. 


Being part of this community had a profound impact on me, because I'm not an overly emotional person. People were letting themselves be really vulnerable and going through this whole process. And so I was going on that journey with them without realising. I very rarely cry, very rarely let myself be vulnerable. I think I cried like two times during Atlantis which might not seem much, but to me they were big moments. On the last day I was giving a speech and thanking everyone, I was just so grateful and so proud of what everyone had done. It all poured out. And so to allow myself to be as vulnerable and as emotional as everyone else I think was quite a human thing to do. It's quite a nice thing to share, which is not something that I've ever really allowed myself. There was a real sense of love in the room and a real sense of support and creativity, and it was really inspiring. I'd like to think that the creative collective will become this moment for people to build on, this sense of community. 


I think ultimately everything was worth it, to go from this small idea, you know, we're all in a Zoom call having a workshop a year before, to being in a room full of people dancing around to Love Will Save Us. On top of that I got to work with the most magnificent creative team who worked tirelessly to make the show happen. It was a real privilege. I've learned so much because of it and the impact that it's had on me has been incredible, it's been such a wonderful experience. It was a marvellous bonkers beast! 

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