Tag Archives: #yscpthestepmother

Goodbye 2014

17 Jan

Wow, so I haven’t updated this blog in ages, so I thought I would write a short post even just to jog my memory and remind me that I DID do theatre last year! Actually, it’ll be remembering it all and sorting it into vague dates that will be the hard bit!

My year in theatre 2014..

January- Auditioned for The Stepmother with YSCP and got the part of Lois Relph. This took up most of the first third of the year and was a brilliant experience. Also continued work with YTR Youth Theatre 16+.

February- See above!

March- See above!

April- The Stepmother at York Theatre Royal. So much love for this play and the people involved.

May- Entered my first Script Factor heat with my play Butter-side Up and won the round!

Butter side up John Saunders

June- In rehearsals for July…

July- A very busy month! It was the final of Script Factor at York Theatre Royal, and my play Going Up got the runner up place which I was really happy about.

Going Up - John Saunders

Then more acting with The Envelope Project and Richard Kay’s play Good Grief. Then there was The York Mystery Plays, acting as Annas in YSCP’s production Christ before Annas and Caiaphas – just about managing to escape the rain and eating many satsumas disdainfully in the process.

August- Assistant Directed on a YTR Play in a Week – Persephone, which was a really fun summer project. Also took Going Up to the Arts Barge Riverside Festival, although we’ll know to have microphones next time!

September- Took Butter-side Up to Leeds Corn Exchange as part of West Yorkshire Theatre Network’s NEXUS festival. It was a fantastic experience to take a little play of mine to an arts festival and get some good feedback – it was performed under my company Bird on Head. I also started assisting with the 8-11s at Youth Theatre.

October- In rehearsals for November…

November- Treading the boards again with York Shakespeare Project as the pretty sadistic Morgan in All’s Well That Ends Well. Some great people and a play in the round, which was really fun to do.

December- Co-writing and co-directing the school play for the Christmas concert! And also receiving some exciting news regarding 2015…

And some of the things I watched..

– The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (National Theatre in Cinemas)

– The Crucible (Old Vic)

– 1984 (Headlong)

– Bondagers (Lyceum Edinburgh)

– Where the White Stops (ANTLER)

– The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatre Mill)

– Fiddler on the Roof (Hull New)

– Les Miserables (Rowntree)

– Twelfth Night (YSP)

– A Number (YTR)

– Blithe Spirit (YTR)

– The Wind in the Willows (YTR)

– Betrayal (YTR)

– Mother Goose (YTR)

The Stepmother Blog 2: Props, Posing and Publicity

14 Feb

A quick update by way of photos. See my previous post for some more background to the production of The Stepmother, and the bottom of this post for ways to get more information…

Hunting around the York Theatre Royal costume hire, we found a very sweet case complete with a beautiful little photo of two women. I’ll probably be using this as my cigarette case (Lois is a 20 a day kinda gal), pretending that the two women are my stepdaughters. It’d be lovely to know the story behind the case and who these people were.

This is one of my costumes (without the 1920s hair), found at the West Yorkshire Playhouse costume hire. This will be Lois’ work outfit, as she is a business woman. The dress itself luckily fits very well and I love the feel of it – it’s so silky! I quite like the 1920s style. Most people will think of the ‘flapper’ style dresses, but as Lois is a married woman in her late 20s, something like this is probably more suitable! One of the things I loved about this dress is that the back looks like it is done up by hundreds of buttons which look fantastic, but luckily, and in the spirit of the quick-change, the fastenings are actually clasps which will help when I have to quickly get out of it into another ‘frock’!

Yesterday our director Maggie and some of the cast popped into Radio York to record an interview about the play – here’s Simon who plays Peter Holland and Catherine who plays Mary. Hopefully you’ll be able to listen in on Sunday 2nd March.

York Settlement Community Players present Githa Sowerby’s The Stepmother at York Theatre Royal 5th-15th March

More The Stepmother blogs can be found here

A preview can be read here

More information about the production and information on tickets can be found here

Follow YSCP on twitter and receive updates about the production here

The Stepmother Blog 1: Finding Lois’ feet.

18 Jan

From 5th-15th March I will be performing in Githa Sowerby’s The Stepmother with the York Settlement Community Players (YSCP). The play, which has largely been left unperformed since it was written in the early 20th century, follows a young girl (Lois), unexpectedly left a huge inheritance, and the older man (Eustace) who takes her in and marries her for her money. What happens next is a fascinating tale of betrayal and what happens when secrets bubble up to the surface.

For me, being cast as Lois is hugely exciting. Too often roles for young actresses in classic plays are classified by the character’s sex life – deemed either a bolshy whore or a simpering virgin. Sex does play a role in the play but it doesn’t define who Lois is. In fact, she is many things – a business woman, a mother, a wife, a lover – but first and foremost a woman trying to do what she thinks best in any given situation and trying to keep her head, and the heads of those she cares for, above water.

Some might therefore call Lois a ‘strong woman’, but I tend to dislike such a label on female characters seeing as it’s never applied to men. This would also force a blanket term on her and, in my opinion, she operates on so many different levels throughout the play and is certainly not always ‘strong’. When we first meet her, she is a vulnerable but sparky 19 year old girl and when we meet her again ten years later (and after the First World War), she has blossomed into a confident 29 year old woman (albeit not entirely worldly wise). This is my first challenge as an actor – to be able to play both ages convincingly. I think the fact that I fall pretty much slap bang in the middle of her two ages is an advantage, but I still have to convince the audience that time has passed! Luckily, I am helped so much by Sowerby’s text. Lois is written so beautifully on the page, and I cannot help but read the older Lois’ dialogue as more self-assured.

Rehearsals so far have been really interesting and we have had many organic discussions with Maggie, our director, about our characters and their relationships. Some of my favourite passages are Lois and Eustace’s many ‘discussions’, which get gradually more heated as their marriage becomes colder. It would be easy to play them all as shouting matches, but then you wouldn’t get the many sides of their characters and situation. Also, I’m not entirely sure the audience would warm to Lois’ personality as easily. The words I’ve noted down during these passages are, therefore, deliberately varied – Steely, matter-of-fact, honest, teasing, genuine, sneaky, harsh, direct, scared, practical, panicked, calm, uncomfortable, incredulous, guilty, angry, suspicious, sincere, frustrated… sometimes I think she is feeling all of these in just one short moment!

After my first reading of the text, I would have called Lois a ‘modern woman’, and I still think this is true to some extent. Even today there are discussions about whether women can have it all, juggling a career, a partner, children etc. Yet as we rehearse the play chronologically, there have been glimpses that she is still very much of her time and bound by morals and conventions that we may not completely recognise today.

I suppose I want an audience member to be enthusiastically cheering her on, yet at the same time wanting to give her a slap in the face. And then I will convince them to join me in singing this.

More The Stepmother blogs can be found here

A preview can be read here

More information about the production and information on tickets can be found here

Follow YSCP on twitter and receive updates about the production here

TakeOver and beyond…

18 Jan

2014. Wow. I’m a little bit behind with this blogging business aren’t I?!

TakeOver stuff…

I realise that the last time I blogged was around week two of three of TakeOver festival. The third week came and went in October, during which I ran a Play in a Day session for 10-14 year olds based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was, in the words of one of my wonderful actors, an “absolutely tutley awesome” day!

I am very grateful to have been involved in the whole process on a Senior Management level, and proud of what the whole team achieved. To have such a hands on experience in a professional theatre (York Theatre Royal) for over a year, including the three intensive weeks which we programmed and managed ourselves, was at times exhausting and frustrating, but at others extremely exciting and an invaluable insight into how a theatre works. Beyond that, I met lots of amazing people and saw some brilliant shows, most of which would never have come to York if it wasn’t for us. Some personal highlights include the irreverent Self Service by Milk Presents, Bitch Boxer written and performed by the multi-talented Charlotte Josephine and Titus Andronicus by the all-female Smooth Faced Gentlemen, who basically came on stage and defined why I want to do theatre.

I’m sure I will have more thoughts on TakeOver as the evaluation process still continues, but I felt a little blog post to round things off at this stage would do nicely. Also it’s kind of a way to make up for not being able to attend a discussion day today.

Non TakeOver stuff…

Towards the end of TakeOver I also completed my MA in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance, which I graduate from next week.

I also assisted for a short while on A Winter’s Tale by Common Ground, adapted and directed by two of my university tutors, which will be touring York and rural Yorkshire in the coming months. I’m looking forward to seeing how it has developed since I last saw it in its exciting early stages a few months ago.

I’ve also got more actively involved in the York Shakespeare Project, performing in their Measure for Measure in November, and becoming a committee member.

November also saw Twice Upon A Time performed in the York Theatre Royal studio by the 16+ Youth Theatre, on which I assistant directed. I love doing Youth Theatre, it never feels like work!

Finally, my first theatrical endeavour of 2014 will be taking the title role in Githa Sowerby’s The Stepmother, to be performed in March at York Theatre Royal which is hugely exciting! More about that in my next post…