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  • Info OFS

I Wanted To Be Part Of Something Again

So over the past two years, the "lockdown years", I was involved with various Zoom courses and meetings with the Creative Collective, talking about The Drifting, which was the original concept for this play.

I didn't get really involved in too much of the writing at that time, although I was in touch with OFS. I have depression and anxiety and all these things, so I take various medications to try and maintain a relatively normal life, but during the lockdown thing I slid a bit so that had a detrimental effect. My mental and physical health took a dive, so I wasn't really in a space where I felt I was going to be any use or contribute.

When we were doing read-throughs of the first draft, that was an interesting process. I was very unfit and not very well to be honest, but I knew I needed to get out and do something and get back to normal. I knew I wanted to be part of it, but not necessarily even acting, you know, whether it was painting scenery, or helping with costume, I wanted to be part of something again.

Having attended the read-throughs of the various forms of the script and being given the chance to read certain parts, I kind of liked the role of the preacher. There were open auditions which I attended here in the theatre, and I found myself really enthused and wanting to put myself forward do something, which I hadn't for the past two years!

There were other parts that attracted me, you know, but I think it's being the villain, being a bit seedy, a bit of a sociopath, that side of him. Where you saw his true character coming out, where he wasn't such a nice geezer, it just appealed to me. I kicked myself at how easy it was to get into that character to be honest!

I was very interested in the process of being an actor and how people do it. I found learning the lines hard. There was always washing up to do or hoovering or something else to distract me, but it did help me focus and even in those weeks leading up to the rehearsal schedule, I was at least getting my head together. But once you know the challenge of learning lines, then there’s the challenge of trying to understand how to convey certain emotion - night after night without living it, you know, being a nasty so and so, it was very interesting to try and capture that. Once I'd got the concept of how mean or how facetious or how I'd have to play a certain line, I was kind of fairly confident.

I think I am a bit of a show-off, but I'm one of these reticent show-offs. I like to be in the limelight, but I'd rather be just a bit behind in the limelight, not too much at the front. I find a lot of creative pursuits relatively easy - that's not to say I do them well! - and therefore I don't value my worth. I was thinking about how if someone gives me a compliment, I'm always throwing it back. For as long as I can remember, I've always dismissed it, it's ‘Oh well, can't everyone do that?’. I am trying to be more humble and accept people's compliments and Jeremy, the Director at OFS, gave me a good talking to: ‘You're good, just accept it!’. I still come across people now, you know, ‘Oh, you were the preacher, that was really good’, and my instinct is to say ‘Oh no, it was nothing, it was the writing ...’, but I'm just really trying hard in myself to say, ‘Thank you, I'm really glad you enjoyed it.’

The sense of being a team was really prevalent early on, and I don't just mean with the kind of core cast, the tech guys, the scenery, the costume, but also the Arts organisation behind it, looking after us, the safeguarding, the welfare, the food, organising breaks for us. All credit to Lizzie and Emma for getting the cast and the team together, and their ongoing commitment to it but also the fact that we have that support underneath as well. By nature of how I'm living I don't have a household of people. It probably has been a lifesaver to be honest, to be in the same room with people and to be able to interact and all that stuff which I missed a lot. So it felt a very safe environment, very liberating. You felt very supported in everything.

I just had a rip-roaring time all the way through. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life. It's one of those events that you feel very privileged to have been a part of and contributed in your own way to make the thing the success that it was.

Since doing the two and a half weeks rehearsal and dress rehearsal and then the shows, I'd lost four kilos. I don't get out of puff walking, I can cycle into town easy and I'm going out walking and stuff. Even though since finishing that run, I've had runs of days where I've been back to, you know, not doing anything or whatever, the majority of the time I feel much, much better and much more able, getting out and actually doing stuff. That’s a big thing that I really feel that I want to continue to do.

It's a really new territory for me to feel this good about myself, but I know that means I'll be able to make other people feel good about themselves as well. Because you can't, if you're in a bad place, you can't help anyone else. So yeah, I've really got to kind of keep this rewiring going and new connections and self-belief rather than trying to suppress it all the time, so I can be of help to other people.

I am more positive about maybe exploring future roles, looking at other groups. And that'll be interesting to get back, but also to start to make some contacts and actually be a bit more proactive than I have been in my life. And feel I am worth something, I think that's been a big change.


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