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I Ran Away With The Circus!

Growing up I had these traditional ideas of what an artist was and I definitely didn't see myself as someone involved in the performing arts. But now through all these years with Justice in Motion I’m getting more comfortable with that label of 'artist.’   


I got involved with Justice in Motion in 2018. My background is in parkour, I’ve been doing it for about 18 years. My friend was involved in a parkour community and they were having an event to show this new equipment they’d developed, so I went along. I didn’t know that Anja, the Artistic Director of Justice in Motion, would be there. So when we started doing theatre exercises I was a bit unsure - I hadn't done any drama since secondary school!  


Yet I had a really fun day. Anja told us all about Justice in Motion and the vision for their new show On Edge. It would be about modern day slavery and trafficking and Anja explained that she was looking for parkour athletes to get involved. Initially I thought ‘Oh, this sounds really interesting, but it's not for me because I don't do theatre.’ Besides, I was working full time for a digital marketing company and so I had my job to think of. But for weeks I kept reflecting on it and eventually I got in touch with Anja and said ‘I’m up for it. Let's see how it goes.’ 


When we were making On Edge I used my holiday allowance to go off and rehearse. My work generously offered me a sabbatical and I immersed myself into the world of Justice in Motion. Because of my experience with digital marketing, Anja and I discussed the possibility of me taking on the social media for the company, and exploring how we could use it as a tool to tell the parkour world about this amazing show. So that summer I was a performer and social media manager.   


After my sabbatical it was really clear to me that I wanted to pursue the performing arts. I eventually left my job to become one of the core team members of Justice in Motion - I ran away with the circus! I am now the Marketing Manager but I also work with the company as a performer and workshop facilitator. My family and friends have been very supportive and happy to see me moving into the performing arts. They knew that the corporate world wasn't where I wanted to be. It's been amazing having them come along to see the shows but also for them to see the changes in me.  


One of the biggest changes is that I’m growing in confidence hugely. I used to be terrified of public speaking and now it's something that I'm a lot more confident with. I think that's largely down to performing in front of people. Anja's belief in my potential as a performer had a big impact. I remember when she asked me how I would feel about playing the perpetrator in On Edge, I got a really knotted stomach thinking about how there’ll be more attention on me and more acting involved. Playing a villain and having to be aggressive aren't things that come very naturally to me. Besides, at school, my understanding of acting was you're pretending to be a character and I didn't feel like I could do that convincingly. I had to work on being confident as the character and getting comfortable with acting intimidating.  


It was a real learning curve for me but with the practical training, and the help and support from Anja, Chris the director and the other performers, I could access something real within me in order to authentically portray this character. Each time I took on these new elements of the role, I felt my comfort zone expanding, my own emotional boundaries were widening and I was getting more comfortable with expressing myself. Acting has also helped me to be more empathetic. So now when I meet people out in the world I can be less judgmental than I was before. I’m more open and accepting of someone's lived experiences.  


One of the biggest things that's come out of this journey is that I feel a lot more empowered. For years I've had this sense of wanting to do something meaningful and now I feel more confident in taking my place in the world, putting ideas into action and working to make a difference. I want to give back in a positive way. Especially as I recognise that I’m in a huge place of privilege. For example I was able to take a sabbatical in order to be in On Edge. I know that other people in the industry don’t have those kinds of opportunities. So I have to make sure I give back. As a facilitator, I go into schools or community centres to deliver workshops in theatre and parkour. By teaching skills and providing opportunities we are opening doors for young people to feel like they could pursue a career in the arts.  


After all this time with Justice in Motion and seeing the positive changes I’ve gone through, I am now a firm believer in the power of the performing arts. I'm a living case study of what can happen when you help people open up.  


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