A Summer of Theatre: Pressure

As well as working on ‘buckets‘ this summer, I have another little, personal project for the three months before third year. I am trying to see as much theatre as I possibly can, so the aim is to go and see something at the theatre every week that I am in the UK until I go back to uni. Some things are booked way in advance (Hamilton is the last week of August and I could not be more excited!) But I also want to be spontaneous and book last minute tickets when I have a spare evening (if anyone wants to come with me one week, drop me a message 😉 ) So, I thought I’d document this little journey with a post after each show – hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up once rehearsals get started!!

Pressure 

IMG_0071

Date: Tuesday 19th June 2018
Playwright: David Haig
Theatre: Ambassador’s Theatre, London
First performed: May 2014,  Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

I knew virtually nothing about this play before booking tickets. But I had a spare evening so scrolled through TodayTix looking for something that caught my eye. Having been watching the television show ‘Band of Brothers’ (my admiration for this is a whole different post) a play about the D-Day landings certainly sounded appealing so I booked my ticket and headed off to the theatre.

Image result for pressure david haig

‘Pressure’ tells the story of James Stagg, a scottish meteorologist, beginning on Friday 2nd June 1944 where he arrives to advise General Eisenhower about the weather conditions for his invasion of France in World War 2. Stagg warns of heavy rain, low cloud and poor visability on the day of the planned invasion (Monday 5th June 1944) , contrary to his american colleagues claiming that the fine, clear weather will continue. Knowing the outcome of this disagreement (that Eisenhower would ultimately decide to move the landings to Tuesday 6th June 1944) gave the piece and almost brechtian quality, only increasing my involvement in the play, as we know Stagg speaks the truth and are only wondering when he will start to be taken seriously.

The technical language was expertly handled. Giant surface weather maps were brought in a regular intervals as new information came from the ships recording data in the Atlantic, and as the play went on the entrance of a new map became quite an event. The text was written in an almost ‘West Wing’ type fashion, with the characters using the meteorological jargon integrated into their fast-paced dialogue and assuming the audience will catch on, much as they do in Aaron Sorkin’s political TV drama. So much so that by the time we are awaiting a chart to determine whether the attack can go ahead on 6th June, when the image was strung up we knew immediately that Stagg was correct about the way the storms were acting. No exposition was needed, the audience looked up at the map and breathed a sigh of relief just as the actors did. The use of these visual images along with the dialogue taught the audience what they needed to know to be involved in the scene. That education of the material surrounding the subject matter is definitely something I want to learn from and take forward in my own direction.

Image result for pressure david haig

Another thing that I loved about the production was the glass doors in the top corner of the set leading out on to a balcony. With a play so focused on the weather, this gateway to the outdoors allowed the creative team to represent the elements on stage. The light and length of the shadows peering around the corner showed the time of day, and when a storm was raging outside, the rain pelting against the glass. This really added to the realism and the naturalistic style of the play, making the world feel much more inhabited.

IMG_0075

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Pressure’ and certainly found it interesting, although I felt the Haig was a bit reluctant to end the play – the final few scenes focusing on the three leads waiting for the invasion to occur felt a bit tagged on and I kept expecting it to end only to have the scene continue. I am not a fan of blackouts between scenes in general, and this didn’t do anything to persuade me otheriwse, simply because I could feel myself shifting and being taken out of the play for a few moments at the end of each section. Although this was counteracted with projections of timings and dates I felt a little that something more imaginative could have been employed to show the passing of a few hours.

This traditional play is definitely worth a watch: the business of the office and the subject-matter was fascinating, and I felt fully engaged with the story and the tension as the stakes rose towards the invasion. As Stagg himself said: “How can the weather ever be boring?”

Pressure plays at the Ambassadors Theatre until Saturday 1st September. Tickets available.

Advertisements

Young Minds

“We’re leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported and empowered, whatever the challenges.”

Young Minds

After 25 years, Young Minds have become the UKs leading charity for youth mental well-being. They work to support young people and their families when struggling with mental illness and strive to give all young people the resilience to cope with life’s challenges.

The charity focuses on giving a voice to young people as well as providing resources to help those who are struggling. Their free parents helpline (0808 802 5544) is answered by trained advisers who are there to listen to your problems, give some advice and refer you on to a specialist if you are concerned about a person below the age of 25. A whole section of their website is dedicated to improving mental well-being in young people: they provide crisis helplines, details on conditions and simple ways to improve your lifestyle to name just a few.

Young Minds believe that help for mental illness is much to hard to find – and that’s just for those brave enough to take the step to ask for help. Projects like Headmeds (providing trustworthy information about medication for mental illnesses), Heads Together (lead by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry) and Find your Feet (focusing on the transition between year 6 and year 7) help to spread awareness and normalise conversation about the struggles we all face.

As a celebration of their 25th year fighting for young minds, the charity are aiming to raise £2.5 million through fundraisers, contributions and sponsored events to help all young people face the challenges of growing up. There is loads and loads more information about Young Minds on their website: www.youngminds.org.uk if you would like to find out more. There is also a blog of personal stories, run by the charity, to encourage people to keep going: www.youngminds.org.uk/blog/

At Theatre of Minds we feel very strongly that no young person should grow up feeling alone in their struggles. We want to use theatre and performance to process the challenges we are facing as we come to the end of our teenage years, and to encourage others to express their worries and concerns in whatever way suits them. Beyond the performance itself we want to use the project to make a donation to Young Minds to help everyone get the support they deserve.

Young Minds realise that we are all affected by mental illness – it’s never just one person who is suffering. Theatre helps us to speak to a whole community, but we can’t do this without your help. Please take a look at our crowdfunding page www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets to help us afford the licensing fee for ‘buckets’ and if you can’t make a contribution please share the link to help us spread the word of our projects and what we are fighting for. Without the performance rights, the project cannot go ahead and we won’t be able to raise funds and awareness for a charity we feel so passionate about supporting.

In 2016 we raised over £2000 for Young Minds, and we would love for ‘buckets’ to be just as successful this year.

“The crisis in children and young people’s mental health is real and it is urgent. More children and young people than ever before are reaching out for help with their mental health. But for those who take that brave step, help is much too hard to find.

Together, we are changing this. We’re fighting for young people’s mental health. Join our fight.”

Meet the cast of ‘buckets’…

Introducing the cast of ‘buckets’ by Adam Barnard! We are so excited to be working with all these amazing people this summer and can’t wait to see our vision come to life.

2018-05-07-PHOTO-00000226Bethan Hughes
I’m currently studying A levels in drama, English literature and history and am looking forward to continuing to study theatre at university next year. I am very excited to be working on another production for Theatre of Minds especially after the overwhelming response to Base Layer two years ago. It was a formative experience in how I approached A level drama, particularly devising. I can’t wait to start work with the cast and see what we can do this a published play this time.

 

IMG_3309Anastasia Raymond
After watching ‘Base Layer’ in 2016 I knew that I simply had to be involved in the next Theatre of Minds project. The impact this piece had not only on me, but on the whole audience and atmosphere in the auditorium was incredible, and something I hope we can replicate with ‘buckets’. I have spent the past 3 years studying a BA in Education with English and Drama at Robinson College, Cambridge, and during my time at university have been involved in a variety of productions- musicals, plays, performance poetry events- both in Cambridge and beyond, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I have found performance to be an incredibly valuable medium to broach difficult topics and I’m so excited to see what we can achieve with this new Theatre of Minds venture!

 

34840884_476395782796697_5673156562516967424_nFlo Rowntree 
I have always been obsessed with all things theatre! I have just finished studying Drama, German and Music at A-Level and hoping to move on to Musical Theatre and Arts Development at University in September. I have been involved in lots of shows locally, including St Albans Musical Theatre Company’s, Annie, Oliver, Spamalot and Priscilla and also played the Princess in the Snow Queen at the Abbey Theatre. I was also lucky enough to train at Musical Theatre Masterclass last year, getting the opportunity to perform at the Other Palace theatre. I am really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone of musicals with Theatre of Minds!

 

image2Hannah Crisp
I’m currently studying Music, Drama and French in year 13 at Beaumont School, and hoping to study Music at university next year. After stage managing Base Layer in 2016, I’m very much looking forward to being in the cast and acting in ‘buckets’. Base Layer was such a fantastic experience and I’m can’t wait to be apart of something so special once again!

 

IMG_3052 (1)Lucy Wilson 
Since Base Layer, I have continued to stay involved in drama in and out of school. Over Christmas I played Gerda in The Snow Queen at the Abbey Theatre and have been a part of several shows at school. Having studied Maths, Chemistry and Drama at A-Level, next year I am planning to study Liberal Arts at university. I am so excited to be performing again under Theatre of Minds and can’t wait to bring old and new faces together in ‘buckets’.

 

2018-05-04-PHOTO-00000402Mae Lankshear 
I am currently in my final year at Beaumont School and studying Drama, English and Music at A-Level and hope to continue my studies in English and Drama and university. I was involved in Base Layer in 2016 and it was one of the most rewarding dramatic experiences I have had. I am very excited to be involved in ‘buckets’ and perform under Theatre of Minds for a second time.

 

IMG_4587Tamsin Sandford Smith 
After acting in Base Layer two years ago I am very excited about the return of Theatre of Minds! I am currently revising for my A-Levels (including drama) and am hoping to study music at university next year. ‘buckets’ is an incredibly original and imaginative modern text and I am really looking forward to working with both old and new members of Theatre of Minds, to take our ensemble devising in a different (but equally exciting!) direction.

 

20180216_162319750_iOSBeth Wilson – Director 
Over the past two years, since Base Layer, I have been juggling maths with work in the theatre at the Univeristy of Leeds. I have performed in lots of pieces of new writing by students of the university, including two musicals, and I spent last summer training on the Music Theatre Intensive course at RADA which really helped me to formalise where my passions for this industry lie. Through second year I have been building up my production team credits, assistant directing ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ with the Music Theatre society and ‘Port’ by Simon Stephens with Theatre Group.
bucketsis a fantastic opportunity to for us to tell a new story and take Theatre of Minds in a slightly different direction. I am so excited to bring this cast together and start to work on the project – this summer is going to be something very special.

We can’t wait to start work on ‘buckets’ but we need your help. Please help us spread the word of our crowdfunding campaign or donate if you can at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets so that we can afford to pay the licencing fee and raise money for a donation to Young Minds.

Mottos

Slowly getting back into this blogging thing! Buckets is still very much in development – the main challenge at the moment is booking in some rehearsal space, but the project has to remain somewhat in the background with exam season looming. So I thought I’d just write about something that has been on my mind the last few days.

After three lovely weeks at home and a few days in Venice, I have just headed back to Leeds for the the remainder of second semester at uni. I feel a little like I have come back to reality with a bang; rehearsals are well underway for a musical I am in; I’m organising a quiz night to help raise money for that show; and of course my actual degree has to take some priority, to name just a few things going on this week. So at the beginning of term, it can all feel a little overwhelming. Rather subconsciously, to help deal with this, I have taken to giving myself a little motto to try and live by, and displayed that in my room to remind myself of it. I only realised this as I was unpacking a getting myself straight this weekend, so I thought I’d share a few from this year.

Keep Calm and Have Fun

The first semester of second year was always going to be busy. I maybe bit off slightly more than I could chew, but I came back in September with several projects on the go an knowing I was going to be BUSY. This is great and I probably wouldn’t change it one bit, but it was nice when it all got a bit much too look over at my little light box and be told to chill out a bit and have fun doing the things that I love.

IMG_3188

Do things for Fun

I care a lot about everything I am working on, and find it virtually impossible to not complete things to the best of my ability. Sometimes this is great, but sometimes it also work its way in to things that I care about that nobody else does, or it means that I stress about things that don’t need stressing about. So as I came in to second semester, I wanted to remind myself to only work on the projects that were going to be fun, and not to worry so much about the things that other people don’t really care about. This meant that last term was much more balanced and level headed because everything I was working on, I really wanted to put the effort in for and it was for fun, not because I felt like I had to.

You do You

Navigating the social life of uni can be tricky. Especially in the circles I find myself in, you see one group of people for a very intense period (working on a show) and feel so close, but then that relationship can change after that particular show is over. I found that this was giving me quite a bit of anxiety at the end of last term – never quite sure what people were thinking about me (although this is entirely due to my own brain being a pain rather than the lovely friends I have doing anything different!). So I have decided that this term I just want to do what I want to do and not worry about what other people are doing/thinking etc. So far this has gone well – had a fab time on Saturday evening at an event where we could sing and dance to ABBA all night which sounded like it would be right up my street! I was so glad I made it out and didn’t let myself freak out, despite being nervous to go. Here’s to the rest of the term, just doing me and not trying to be anyone else.

IMG_3611

Theatre of Minds has a brand new project – ‘buckets‘ by Adam Barnard, performing in September 2018. We are crowdfunding at www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets to raise money for the performance rights so that we can make a donation to Young Minds with the proceeds of the production. Any contributions would be gratefully received, but please help us out by sharing the link even if you can’t donate.

Up and Running

Our new project is well on the way to be becoming a reality. For our first production, Base Layer, we had almost an entire year to organise and plan the project before hitting our intense two week rehearsal period. This time, despite giving ourselves a much longer rehearsal period for ‘buckets‘, we have a considerably shorter amount of time for the pre-planning so everything feels like it is happening very quickly.

Yesterday evening, we had our first meeting with some of the cast members of ‘buckets’. It was brilliant to get people all in one room and chat about some of the early ideas we have been having. Having been off on our own adventures over the past two years, it was lovely to sit down with some of our Base Layer cast and to welcome some new faces to the team. We talked everyone through the main messages of the play and some of our (very early) design and concept ideas for the production, and lots of creative ideas were thrown around in the group. It was so exciting to reminisce about the time we spent together in 2016 and look forward to putting together something new – there was a lot of laughter going on!

The second half of the meeting was focused on the logistics of the project and how we want to run the process. In fact there are some things that YOU can do to help us out with some of this planning too:

  • Rehearsal Space: Hopefully through July and August, the seemingly longest winter ever will be over, but even so our garden and conservatory can only get us so far in terms of rehearsals. We are on the hunt for spaces that we can use through the summer to rehearse ‘buckets’ in. Whether this be school hall, drama studios, church halls we will take anything we can get in July, August and early September. If you have any connections which could help us get some rehearsal space, we could love to hear from you and would be so grateful for anything you can do in this regard.
  • Funding: As we have previously said, ‘buckets’ will be our second production in aid of Young Minds. We want to make a donation to the charity after our production to support their work with families and young people suffering from mental illnesses. BUT since ‘buckets’ is a published play, we have to pay for the performance rights, so to help us with this and to cover some other production costs we have set up a crowdfunding page so that our donation to Young Minds can be as big as possible.
    www.gofundme.com/theatreofminds-buckets
    If you can’t make a donation, please help us spread the word by sharing the link to the page and to the blog on social media and with your friends and family. We want our message to reach as far as possible so we would greatly appreciate your help on this front.

More information coming your way as we have it. Thankyou for your support.

Email us at theatreofminds239@gmail.com
Watch Base Layer: a production by young people for Young Minds here.

We are back!

Theatre of Minds will be returning this summer with a brand new production!

After the success of Base Layer in 2016, through which we raised over £2000 for Young Minds, we are now in the very early stages of putting together a new production to be performed at the beginning of September 2018. This time we will be performing a scripted piece: ‘buckets’ by Adam Barnard – a play about time and how nothing lasts forever, exploring relationships and emotions through 33 interconnected scenes.

61Y0MIFlmPL

buckets by Adam Barnard

We are delighted to announce that we will be returning to the Abbey Theatre for performances on Friday 7th September and Saturday 8th September 2018. There will be some familiar faces and some new ones joining the team, but unlike with Base Layer we are looking for an all-female cast for ‘buckets’ to help us express some of the issues we feel most passionately about as young women. If you would like to be involved in the process (as an actor/production assistant/technician etc) please do get in touch via email (theatreofminds239@gmail.com) or on facebook (message Beth or Lucy) and we’d love to hear from you.

Abbey Theatre

We will be performing at the Abbey Theatre on Fri 7th Sept & Sat 8th Sept.

We would once again like to use this production to raise some funds for a donation to Young Minds – for more information you can visit their website or read another of our blog posts. But since this is a pre-published play we need to raise some money ourselves in order to pay for the performance rights and some of the production costs, so that we can make such a donation after the performance. Once again, we have set up a crowdfunding page using gofundme to help us collect donations and spread the word of our project. Any contributions would be very much appreciated but if you can’t donate, you can still help out by sharing the link on social media.

This year’s production is a fantastic opportunity for Theatre of Minds to develop and grow as a company as we all bring our experiences in the last two years to the rehearsal room. But we can’t make this progress without your help. If you enjoyed Base Layer in 2016, we hope you’ll continue to support us and get involved in whatever way you can with ‘buckets’. We are so excited to get back to making theatre together and we’ll be sharing the process so make sure you are following us on facebook and twitter to stay up to date.

Bring it on!

Make sure you check out the recording of our last production on the ‘Base Layer‘ page on the blog.

My Relationship with Make Up

As a young teenager, I was a massive tomboy. For well over five years I tied my hair up in a ponytail every single day; at school I wore trousers when everyone else was in a skirt; and at home I was wearing wide ‘boyfriend’ style jeans or what I liked to call ‘sporty-shorties’ (three-quarter length jogging bottoms). Any sort of make up – even nail varnish really – was very far from my mind. At the time when everyone was getting their ears pierced I was way more concerned with whether my one pair of trainers would last another season because I really didn’t want to go shopping for more.

Make Up Blog Post Pic 1

Aged 15 – looking as much like a boy as possible.

I didn’t own any make-up at all until my year 11 prom, when me and my mum went shopping for a little brown mascara, a pink lipstick and a brown pencil eyeliner. I had no idea what I was doing with this stuff but I felt like I should look a little made-up to go to prom! It was quite an ordeal at the time finding a dress and working out what to do with my hair, as I was still not a very girly-girl! People had been being told off at school for wearing too much make-up and having their skirts too short for years, and all of a sudden on this night it felt like something I could do – I could totally dress up like everyone else!

Make Up Blog Post Pic 2

Aged 16 – at prom

For the next two years, things stayed more or less the same. I wore hardly any make-up – even on stage – and for our second prom in year 13 I asked a friend to help me with some eyeshadow because I had no idea what to do. Finally at the end of my gap year I decided that I needed to head to university with a larger collection, and have been adding to it slowly since then. I still don’t wear make-up everyday, but for nights out and going on stage etc, when I want to look a bit smarter I’ll spend some time applying some concealer, eye make-up, powder etc. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I have come to the conclusion that not many people do! Youtube is very helpful though!!!

I count myself very lucky that I haven’t felt very self-conscious about my appearance or skin through my teenage years. Of course there are things I would want to change or fix when I look in the mirror, who doesn’t?! But I have always worn clothes that I wanted to and not really cared about what other people think. For a lot of people, make-up makes them feel more confident in their own skin, but I felt more conscious when I was wearing it. I didn’t know what I was doing with it and felt kind of silly. I could never understand why people spent hours getting ready or wanted to spend money on it, it just wasn’t my bag.

But now that I wear it more often, I actually really enjoy putting it on. The act of dressing up and the whole process getting ready to go out is fun; putting on some showtunes and having a jam in the bathroom, its all part of the evening itself. I no longer feel self-conscious about wearing make-up because I just put on as much as I want to on that day. Sometimes I do go out without make-up because I don’t have time or whatever: it’s going to be dark in there and no-one will really care. I like to put it on for myself not for anyone else, so I wear what I feel comfortable in at that moment.

Make Up Blog Post Pic 3

Aged 20 – I was pretty proud of my eyeliner!

I guess my message is that if you can you should wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. You should be able to present yourself to the world in the way that you want to, not based on what anyone else thinks. In my opinion, everyone is way more concerned with what they themselves look like that what you are wearing anyway. I know that that is a much easier thing to say than to do, and that I have been lucky in that my insecurities haven’t really been centred around my appearance, but I felt like telling this story might be food for thought.

We are all very individual people, so present yourself that way, in whatever makes you feel the most like you.

Make Up Blog Post Pic 4

Films that make me cry

Unashamedly, I am a rather emotional person. Many things can make me cry given just a moments notice. Films are a big one. I guess as an actor I am quite practiced at allowing myself to be absorbed by a world that isn’t my own, and feeling involved in other people’s stories. But in fact crying at a film is one of my favourite things to do.
There are films which I will put on because I know they are going to make me well up and feel all emotional. I like the fact that I can release my emotions without anything actually happening to me. After 2 hours or so I can step back out into my own world, fresh, released and ready to carry on. Or at the very least I’ve allowed myself to cry about what was really bothering me. Sometimes you just need a good cry, so these are my top films for bringing tears to my eyes.

Inside Out

This Pixar movie tells the story of eleven year old Riley moving from Minnesota to San Francisco and her emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – trying to help her navigate her new life. We spend most of our time inside Riley’s head with these five characters personifying her emotions,watching how they interact and how their actions affect Riley’s out in the real world. Yes, this is in fact a children’s film, but it is also a brilliant commentary on growing up and even mental illness, to a point.
I love this film. It is funny with its reasoning behind things like getting a song stuck in your head; its really clever putting a story behind the way your mind works and I relate not only to Riley but also to Joy. Joy just wants Riley to be happy all the time (and who wouldn’t want that), and she too has to go on a journey to see things from a more grown-up point of view. She says at the beginning that she doesn’t really know what Sadness’ job is, but ends up learning so much from her and helping Riley to become a much more complex person.
The truth in this film is, I think, what gets me: Joy can’t make Riley happy all the time; no matter how hard she tries, Riley needs sadness to be a proper person; and sometimes you have to let go of the old happy memories to make space for new ones that might be even better.

Beauty and the Beast

The new live action version of the 90s Disney classic came out last month and it was everything I wanted it to be! As a child I wasn’t much of a disney person because I used to get too scared of the villians (Cinderella was a favourite for a long time because there weren’t any scary looking monsters), but I did have a Beauty and the Beast jewellery box which played ‘Tale as Old as Time’ and three year old me used to play it to baby Lucy to make her stop crying. Then I performed in the stage version of the musical as my last show at Beaumont School, so the story now holds a very special place in my mind. To be fair, the reason this film makes me cry is probably very specific, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a mention.
At the cinema, I did not stop crying for the whole film. Happy, nostalgic tears, but still tears non the less. It was all a bit overwhelming to see the story brought to life in a new way. I loved the extra story points adding to the background of the characters because it felt worth making an adaptation but still so true to the original. Alan Menken’s new music fitted in beautifully and the inclusion of the instrumental version of ‘Home’ from the stage production was genius and really tugged at some heart strings. One verse of the new piece “How does a moment last forever” has definitely become a favourite of mine.

This is the Paris of my childhood
These are the boarders of my life.
In this crumbling dusty attic
Where an artist loved his wife
Easy to remember, harder to move on
Knowing that the Paris of my childhood, is gone.

Definitely, Maybe

This film tells the story of Will Hayes trying to explain his divorce to his eleven year-old daughter. The majority of the film is spent 20 years prior to this within Will’s story of how he met his soon-to-be ex-wife, with short little jumps back to the present day when Maya objects or asks questions about the characters in his story.
Without giving away too much about the twists and turns of this plot (because my favourite moments in this film come right at the end!), the reason this story hits me, I think, is admiration for Maya. She is eleven years old, watching her parents split up and yet manages to show such empathy and understanding for the situation. She is so selfless; just wanting the people around her to be happy; seeming mature beyond her years. But Abigail Breslin’s portrayal, with the writing and direction given to her, makes the character seem completely inkeeping with the story, rather than showing traits that seemed too adult for an eleven year-old. I love that as a twenty year old I can admire the acts of an eleven year old and her relationship with the adults around her – it restores my faith in humanity a little!

There are many more that I would love to add to this list (Love Actually, My Sister’s Keeper, Never Let Me Go etc etc etc) because I get very into the world of a film. The new Star Wars films will probably always make me cry a little because they have been such a big part of our family life as I’ve been growing up. But these were the ones, off the top of my head, that will be my go-tos for an emotional outlet for at least the near future!

Enjoyed this? Why not have a read of Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness or Music to my Ears.

Mindful Listening

Podcasts have been a new thing for me in 2017, not exactly a new years resolution, but something that just came into my life in January this year. It’s a very mindful thing for me – more so than I realised it would be. You have to concentrate on it more than listening to music or watching Netflix or you lose track of what they are on about. Walking up to uni in the morning, running at the gym, or washing up after dinner, listening to a podcast stops me mithering so much about everything and makes me feel a bit more present.

I started off listening to The West Wing Weekly: a podcast rewatch of the Aaron Sorkin series The West Wing where the hosts discuss one episode a week with various guests involved in the creation of the show. The West Wing is one of my favourite series ever and if you haven’t seen it you really need to, so when I heard about the podcast I had to get into listening to it. It’s fantastic to hear from people involved about how they made the programme, from directors and actors to cameramen and expert advisors, as well as the politics of the show in today’s climate. So after awhile (once I had caught up and had to wait a whole week for my next episode) I branched out and found myself a nice little collection of subscriptions. Along the same lines as The West Wing Weekly, The Gilmore Guys and Best of Friends have joined the ranks, walking through other excellent television series Gilmore Girls and Friends. But I have also found a couple of lovely theatre related podcasts, which was really the reason for writing this post.

Theater People

(Yes, Daddy, I know theatre is spelt wrong there but as the podcast is american I thought I would honour that!) Each episode of the Theater People podcast features an interview with someone working in the theatre community in New York, with interviewer Patrick Hinds. The conversation will usually begin with whatever project is current for the artist and then jump back to the beginning of their career. Patrick has interviewed Lin Manuel-Miranda, Laura Osnes, LaChanze, Laura Benanti, Elaine Paige etc etc etc. I love hearing about everyone’s different pathway to the theatre and the roles they are taking on now, and Patrick’s interviewing style makes it all feel very relaxed like you really hear what these people think. Sometimes the interviews are conducted in dressing rooms in theatres on Broadway and we might hear snippets of sound checks coming over the monitor or people’s food orders arriving at stage door – it makes it all seem very real. Definitely worth a listen for those who love a bit of music theatre – I’ve discovered several new favourite soundtracks through this podcast recently!

Broadway Backstory

Patrick Hinds is back again in this podcast merging several interviews together to tell the story of how a new Broadway musical ‘goes from just an idea to reality’. Series one of Broadway Backstory has now finished but you can always go back and binge listen to it and wait excitedly with me for series 2. Episodes have included the stories of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’, ‘In the Heights’ and ‘The Secret Garden’ (all some of my faves). The collection has been chosen brilliantly so that each tells a different journey from people with different backgrounds, most ending up at the Tony Awards. Even if you haven’t seen or heard the musical before, it’s more about the people who were involved and how they felt through their journey. Another cracker to delve into.

Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast

 

In each episode of the Royal Court Playwright’s podcast, Simon Stephens (playwright behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) has a conversation with another successful British playwright who has at some point featured at the Royal Court. I am not a playwright, nor am I ever likely to be, but these conversations are about more than just the writing process – which is of course interesting in itself. Again, these are stories of journeys from humble beginnings, but also about managing workload when you are creative and work for yourself; about handing off your creation to let someone else put their stamp on it; and beyond the personal, it’s often a commentary about the state of British theatre. I am not yet caught up on all the episodes, but so far I have listened to interviews with David Hare (who apparently now hates Verbatim theatre!), Dennis Kelly and Rachel De-Lahay, all of whom I have seen/read works by and very much enjoyed. Another fantastic insight into the world of creativity.

So those are my current podcast favourites bringing me a little bit of mindfulness each day. I really would recommend giving it a try – you can give yourself an hour of focused thought whilst getting on with other things in your busy life.

We are all a little broken, and that’s ok.

Throughout 2015 I created a scrapbook to help distract myself when I needed to. Each page carries a positive message to help pull me through and see the situation from a different angle. I tried to make all the pages as colourful and textured as possible so that it felt real and replaced some of the more destructive things my hands could be doing. As a creative person, it was a great tool at the time for distraction and expressing my feelings but now, as a very sentimental person, the book is a great reminder of where I have come from. I hope that now, through this short video, these messages that I wrote to myself might help someone else who needs a little boost.

The music in this short video is my cover of ‘Holes’ by Layla – a song on my ‘Emotional Outlet Playlist‘.

Hope you enjoy.