Here we go again!

We are no less than a week away from our performance of Base Layer at the Abbey Theatre. Being asked to perform again is such a fantastic opportunity to share our work with a wider audience, so we really hope to see you there.

Thank you very much to Susie Major – the press officer at the Abbey Theatre – for writing and organising our latest article in the Herts Advertiser. We are very grateful for all the support that the theatre has been giving us in organising the extra performance – we couldn’t have done this alone! Have a read of the article below, and make sure you book tickets to see our young people’s story of mental illness here.

Herts Ad 3


Young Minds Parent’s Helpline

All of the funds raised from our production of Base Layer will be donated to the charity Young Minds after the final performance on Saturday 10th September. Young Minds are the UK’s leading youth mental health charity and work with young people and their families when they are struggling with a mental illness.

Young Minds

Young Minds run a confidential parents helpline used by over 10,000 people in 2013 to help direct parents to the right support for their families. Parents, carers, grandparents and professionals like teachers and social workers have used the helpline to try and help a young person under the age of 25. It can be very difficult to make the first step of making this call, but the Young Minds advisors are trained to help you explore your worries and understand what your child is going through. They might then pass you on to a mental health specialist for further consultation.

All you have to do is call 0808 802 5544 (free from a mobile or landline) between 9:30am and 4pm on Monday-Friday and there will be someone there to help.

There is also an online contact form to use if it is easier to write down your concerns rather than saying them outloud. Anyone can contact the charity when they are in need – they have heard it all before and no problem is too small.

The aim of the project is for Young Minds to be able to help everyone who needs them but they can only do with with donations from outside sources in order to further their work. Through our work on Base Layer we have already raised over £2000 to in donations and ticket sales. If you would like to help support the charity, our crowdfunding page is still open for donations, or you can buy a ticket to come and see the performance at the Abbey Theatre on Saturday 10th September, the profits from which will also be donated to the charity. Please help us support the work of this fantastic group. Mental illness is everywhere and everyone is affected!

The Comedy of Errors

On holiday in France, down near the Dordogne, a couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (in English!) in a village square near where we were staying. Since I already had to write a review for some A-level drama summer work, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to tell you about the production.

Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors Review
In the square of the French Bastide Monpazier, I saw a production of The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare performed by Antic Disposition on Wednesday 10th August 2016. As it was performed outside, immediately, you could see links between the performance conditions today and what it would have been like at the Globe. For example, as it was performed in a square, there was a lot of background noise during the performance much like there would have been when it was first performed.

Before any dialogue started, an opening movement sequence set the scene. A bell was rung in time to the live music to firstly make clear to the audience that this play was set in a hotel. Secondly this helped to make sure the audience were focused on the bell at appropriate points when new characters were being introduced, for example, the two sets of twins. Firstly, we met Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus meaning that when we saw Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse put on the exact same clothes a few seconds later, the audience could see where the mix up might take place. As we had seen the two twins separately beforehand, when they were dressed the same, we could still tell them apart meaning that the story could be told without the audience being too confused. To reiterate that they were twins, later on, director Ben Horslen had the two sets of twins stand back to back showing that they were indeed identical.

the company of antic disposition-s the comedy of errors

Similar to the original performance conditions, there was very little set on the stage. One of the only pieces of set was a door and during act 3 scene 1, a very simple movement of turning it around 180 degrees meant that the entire setting had changed so that one minute, we were on the outside of the room and the next minute, inside. This was very effective because while a split scene would have worked, the audience were only focused on one area of the stage where all the action was taking place rather that two. It also meant that we could see more clearly the interactions between the characters on stage. As the actors were constantly reacting to the audience, it added comedy to this scene. One place I thought it was particularly effective was when Antipholus of Ephesus (played by Alex Hooper) wasn’t allowed into his own home so he turned round and faced one side of the thrust stage, giving this area of the audience an individual reaction. This happened throughout the play meaning that each audience member saw a slightly different performance because not everyone saw exactly the same interactions. This scene also brought out the importance of the class system in this setting. Originally, I thought that the main characters were from the highest class, however, when a woman dressed in an expensive fur coat of the 1920s walked past, they all changed their body language to impress her. All the actors stood up straighter and brought their ridiculous actions to a halt, showing they were conscious not to act immature in front of a woman of a higher class.

keith higinbotham and andrew venning in antic disposition-s the comedy of errors

Antic Disposition decided to base their production on the film “Some Like it Hot”. One section that particularly mirrored the film was the chase scene that they inserted into act 5. Everything was moving very fast meaning that the audience couldn’t really tell what was going on. For the first time, it was hard to tell the twins apart because they kept moving and you couldn’t really get a good look at them. This confusion added to the comic effect of the rest of the piece and enabled the audience to not worry that they didn’t really understand. Secondly, it was very effective because it linked very closely to the chase scene in “Some Like it Hot” as the same music was played in the background during both. Also, during this scene, one set of Antipholus’ and Dromio’s dressed up as women to try disguise themselves which very closely mirrors the disguise in the film. The reason that having this link throughout the play was so effective was because the majority of the audience were older meaning that they would have seen the film beforehand and would therefore understand the context. Cleverly, director Ben Horslen knew that the average age of his audience would be older due the area of France that his company was touring, meaning that by basing the play on an older film, he would appeal to his audience.

keith higinbotham and alex hooper in antic disposition-s the comedy of errors

During the play, you could tell that the two Dromio’s and the two Antipholus’ were twins but this wasn’t because they looked identical. The actors who were cast looked similar enough so that they could pass as twins but the audience could still tell the difference. This was essential because otherwise, it wouldn’t have been as funny because even the audience wouldn’t know what was going on. Additionally, the sets of twins were only on stage together right at the beginning and right at the end meaning that it didn’t really matter whether they were identical or not. The actors all used their physicality and mannerisms to make themselves very similar. For example both Keith Higinbotham and Andrew Venning playing the two Dromio’s wore their hats in the same positions on their heads and held their chins pointed down to keep it on in the same way. This was most apparent when the Dromio brothers were attempting to greet each other at the end because it was the first time they were interacting on stage. Both characters had such similar personalities, neither would make a move towards each other. They spoke in the same tone of voice which again helped to make it clear to the audience that these two characters were twins even though they didn’t look exactly the same, adding to the comedy of the errors seen throughout the play.

The final performance of Base Layer is on Saturday 10th September at 7:30pm at the Abbey Theatre in aid of Young Minds. Tickets available here. We hope to see you there.


Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness

I am a very different person to the girl I was this time last year. In just under a month I will be heading off for my first year of university, and I am 100% sure that I am more prepared than I was 12 months ago. This year, having taken a step out of the education system for a while, I feel like I’ve grown up so much!

Until last September, my entire world was focused around school and the work I was doing there. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been if I had wanted an easier ride, but at the time it felt like all I needed was within that environment. When I left, it felt like everything had fallen apart – I didn’t have a centre anymore. Having struggled with the anticipation of this for over a year, when it actually happened my mental health suffered in a brand new way. But this lead me to something very important; a life lesson that I needed to learn.

It came from a youtube video that I saw in late September. Hazel Hayes is a vlogger and short film maker on the internet, and for the last 18 months she has been documenting her life in a series called Time Of The Month. Each month she films short sections of her life and edits them together beautifully into a half an hour episode, letting her audience know what she is up to and allowing hersef to reflect on the month that has just passed. At the end of these episodes, Hazel sets out themes and emotions that have been prominent through living the month and editing the footage and this section always, always makes me cry! I find myself relating to her story and her life so intensely every time, all the while trying to remind myself that I don’t personally know this woman (however cool I think she is!)

This is by far my favourite series on youtube at the moment and I look forward to seeing it every single month. One of the most impressive things is how authentic and honest Hazel is in sharing her life with hundreds of thousands of people. Sadly, in July 2015 Hazel experienced the end of a relationship and (luckily for me) she decided to share this experience with the world. The episode entitled August 2015 (the second after this change in her life) was published on 7th October 2015 with absolute perfect timing. I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling about leaving school and how much life had changed even though I thought I wasn’t ready for it. But then I saw this and Hazel said the words that I couldn’t find; she was describing what I was experiencing, so that I started to understand my own emotions. Everything that I want to say is in the video below, so instead of typing out word for word what Hazel says, I thought you could just watch the section at the end of this video.

Grief. That’s what it was. I was grieving. But it wasn’t for a person or a physical thing, I was grieving the life I used to know. That girl who went to school and sat in those classrooms and performed on that stage was gone and it didn’t feel like there was anything else to go to. I didn’t know what I wanted because I just missed it. I needed to give myself time to grieve that life before I could enjoy this new one.

Hands down this was the most important thing I realised this year, because then I could start make it better. I’d always thought (perhaps quite naively) that grief was only about losing someone, I’d never thought about it in any other context so I couldn’t articulate it. But once I understood those feelings, I could start to move passed it. My mental health began to improve and I started to get on with life in the real world.

It now feels like this was the lesson that sent me on the journey to adulthood. This is all sounding very cheesy, but genuinely crying at the seven minutes at the end of this video was the first step on that ladder. So, if you ever happen to read this Hazel: Thank you so much for sharing what you felt because I’m sure that I am not the only person who was helped by your words.

This video also gave me a big leap towards the piece that became Base Layer (our devised piece of theatre aiming to reduce the stereotypes surrounding youth mental illness that we performed in July) because I thought that if I had been helped by someone sharing their thoughts and feelings, perhaps my journey could help someone else. There is a recording of our performance of Base Layer here or you can buy tickets for the final performance on 10/09 here

Grief is a natural human emotion that occurs way more often than we let ourselves think. It’s OK to feel loss and sadness when something changes in your world (no matter how small you might think it is) and the best thing you can do is to acknowledge that and let yourself grieve. Something will eventually make you so happy you could burst again, but that wouldn’t be the same if you hadn’t had the sadness. It’s a very hard thing to remind yourself when the chips are down, but Stars can’t shine without darkness.

Stars can't shine

The Chain

One of the things that help me the most is music. I have a playlist on my phone called ‘Emotional Outlet Playlist’ which has music to listen to at all sorts of moments. There are tracks to make me cry; tracks to make me smile; and specific tracks to listen to at crisis points. I am hoping to be able to share a series of these with you, but who knows how regular that will be able to be!

So, for now, this is my cover of The Chain by Ingrid Michaelson. It’s a song that, for me at least, is a lot more than just the words being sung. The atmosphere that is created is what has helped in those moments. I recorded it on the baby grand piano we had in a cottage on holiday this summer. Hope you enjoy it.

Tickets for the final performance of Base Layer are now available on the Abbey Theatre’s website. We will be performing there on Saturday 10th September, so make sure you don’t miss out! To find out more about the production, go to the Base Layer tab on the blog.

What next?

Base Layer received a fantastic response when we performed in July. So many people commented on how affected they were by the material that we presented, and best of all more and more people are talking about the topics we discussed in the piece.

Therefore, we are delighted that we have been invited to perform Base Layer again at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. The performance will be at 7:30pm on Saturday 10th September in the studio, allowing us to spread our message to an even wider audience. Tickets are available on the Abbey Theatre website by clicking the link here.

If you weren’t able to join us in July or you would like to see Base Layer again, we hope you will take this opportunity to help us support Young Minds – the UKs leading youth mental health charity. We are delighted that we have the chance to bring Base Layer back in the autumn, and would like to thank the Abbey Theatre for giving us the opportunity to do so. We hope to see you there.

Rehearsal Video Diary 2 (If you would like to see more visual material from the project, go to the Our Work tab above)

Post Show Blues

Although Base Layer is not completely over (details in our recent post ‘Base Layer 2.0‘) the main bulk of the project we have been working towards is over. We spent a very intense three weeks with our cast and crew creating and performing the piece and then all of a sudden it was done. Hence the onset of ‘Post Show Blues’


It is definitely not a feeling unique to the world of performing – I’m sure that the time after running a marathon (for example) would have very similar vibes! One thing that seems very clear to me is that the blues are not only unique to each individual person, but also to each project. There are many different styles and forms of the blues; it could probably be scientifically investigated!!

The crying mess
In the days following a final performance, anything relating to the show environment will make you burst into tears. I’ll give you an example from my experience:
The end of January 2015. We had just finished a run of Beauty and the Beast at school – my last school musical so it was a pretty emotional time! The last performance was on a Saturday evening, the next day I was sitting at my desk in my room trying to organise my life. I was writing lists of work etc that needed to be done, and I thought ‘I’ll be able to do those questions tomorrow afternoon because I’ll come home straight from school’ And then the flood gates opened. With the show on I hadn’t come home straight from school all term so just the idea that I wouldn’t have a rehearsal to get to and therefore could do my maths homework set me off all over again! In fact I have the tweet to prove it:


Feeling like nothing good will ever happen again
This is in fact a common trait of most forms of Post Show Blues. Feeling like that project was so good that nothing will ever be as good ever again; no show in the future will ever live up to what you were part of. In fact nothing at all will make you as happy or as fulfilled as that project. When you go from such a heightened sense of enjoyment, to what feels like nothing it can be quite a drop. Of course there is always something just around the corner for you to throw yourself in to, but that can be hard to see and focus on when all you want to do is skip back a couple of days and do it all again.

Quoting the show in everyday life
Everything that anyone says is a quote. Even if its not quite the same, you can totally make it the same! Even if the people around you don’t know the quotes, you still make them because we can’t let the performance die! With Base Layer, we have had a lot of ‘What are your favourite sweeties?’ (Actor: Emily Webster) whenever anyone asks what your favourite of something is, or just speaks about children generally, and also ‘A blue bee!’ ‘That’s quite funny!’ (Actors: Tom Holmes and Mae Lankshear) whenever an insect flies by. 

Suddenly having time to think about all the other things in life
During a run, however long that is, I have zero headspace for anything else. Even vital things like eating and sleeping often take second place to thinking about the piece I am involved in. But then when that is taken away, suddenly there is a whole lot more space for the things you didn’t want to think about before. This is a massive one for me. Post show blues almost always brings on some sort of panic about the next big change coming up in my life, or how many things I haven’t been sorting out during the run. All of a sudden I have way more time to mither and worry and overthink which is never good for my well-being!

I have spoken before about how close you become with people when you put on a show together. Whether you knew each other before or not, the rehearsal and performance process will always bring you closer because you spend so much time with these people and expose so much of yourself emotionally. At the end of the run, you probably aren’t going to see them as much as you have been. All your routines will change and you won’t have rehearsals to keep you together (at least for a while). That can feel pretty lonely and scary when you have become so close and is maybe one of the biggest causes of the blues.


So what should you do about it? Well, for me at least it’s a little bit like ‘Going on a bear hunt’ – You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it. One of the worst things I ever did was try and persuade myself that I was ok about a run being over. I tried to put on a happy mask (for myself as well as everyone else) and told myself I wasn’t allowed to wallow in my sorrows. But that just made it worse and it meant that I suffered for longer and couldn’t move on to the next thing as easily.

I feel very hypocritical as I type this because I am so bad at remembering this when I’m not feeling great: It has to be ok to be sad sometimes. Everyone is always telling me that I can’t be happy all the time; that the best times only feel so good because others weren’t quite up there, so Post Show Blues is really just showing you how much you enjoyed that time and that it meant a lot to you – even if you didn’t realise it a the time.

Therefore, my top tip for post show blues is to embrace it and make sure that you don’t forget how fantastic it was. I like to create scrapbook pages and photo collections as keepsakes of a particular project. This isn’t for everyone but it allows me to fondly remember all the good moments and grieve (yes I do use that word) a little now that it is over. This was a scrapbook page that I created after a show I was in earlier on this year.

Lucy decided to pour her creativity into cake form the day after Theatre of Minds, so we had celebratory cupcakes that day.

Post Show Blues will be different every time, but they are never bad enough to stop me going back to the theatre for more. Who knows where the next project will be, but I’m sure that when that one is done I’ll think it was the best thing yet.

If you missed out on seeing Base Layer in July, make sure you keep an eye on the blog for details of our next performance (10/09/16) or check out the recording of the performance on Saturday 16th July here.


Theatre of Minds is a project set up to raise funds and awareness for the charity Young Minds – the UKs leading youth mental health charity. Young Minds work with children and young people when they are suffering from a mental health disorder, but equally importantly the charity works to support the families of those children. They run an award winning parents helpline which received 10,000 from concerned parents in 2013 to help people caring for young people through a difficult time.

We are delighted to announce that through ticket sales for Base Layer, collections and online donations we have managed to raise £2200.02 for Young Minds. Thankyou to everyone who has made a contribution to our cause – you are helping us to support young people all over the UK.

BUT we are not done yet! As you can see in this post, the Abbey Theatre in St Albans have invited us to do another performance of Base Layer in September. This will hopefully enable us to spread awareness throughout a wider community and also raise some money to join what we have already raised. Therefore, we have decided that we will be making an official donation to Young Minds in September after the end of the event.

Our crowdfunding page is still open, so if you would like to contribute, you can do so here.
We have been blown away by the reach of this project and delighted that so many people have shown an interest in what we are doing. Thankyou very much for your help, and we hope to continue the work of this theatre company in the future.

Theatre of Minds presents: Base Layer

If you missed out on seeing our performances in July, look no further! We recorded the performance on Saturday 16th July, and that is available for viewing here:

One in three children in every classroom suffers from a diagnosable mental health condition; you never know who might be affected. Theatre of Minds is a project, set up by young people between 15 and 19, to give a voice to those children and those around them.

This is a recording of our show, Base Layer, performed in July 2016 to raise money for mental health charity Young Minds. Within the performance we used spoken word, music and physical theatre to try to let anyone affected to know that they are not alone.

Thankyou to everyone who came to any of the performances of Base layer – you made the event very special for us all. If you weren’t able to make it on the night, we hope that this recording will allow you to get a flavour of what those in the live audiences experienced.

All funds raised through this project (in ticket sales and other donations) will be donated to Young Minds – the UKs leading youth mental health charity. If you would like to contribute our crowdfunding page is still open and any donations, however small, will be gratefully received:


Young Minds
Leading charity dedicated to improving the mental health of children and young people.

Children and young people up to 19 can contact childline to talk about anything, big or small.

Youth Talk
Counselling services avaliable to young people between 13 and 25 who live, work or attend school in the district of St Albans.

Free online counselling for young people, qualified counsellors avaliable till 10pm.

Thank you to:

Ms Shepherd, Mrs Hawkins, Miss Hosegood and all the staff at Beaumont School, Emily, Clare, Rhian and Emma at the Trestle Arts Base, Tina Swain at the Abbey Theatre, Andy Gray for technical support, Rachael Peacock at Sandringham School, Anthony Rowlands for help with fundraising, Matt and Jade at Young Minds, Syriol Jones for help with advertising, Jane Johnson at the OLLIE foundation, Debbie White at the Herts Advertiser, Kat Cormack, Kate Newton and Julie Allen from the St Albans City and District Council, Mary Crabtree, the front of house team, Rebecca and Katie for marketing material

Our show was a non-professional, all-profits-to-charity event in which we drew inspiration from a wide range of sources; plays, music, books etc. All materials used belong to the authors.
Materials used: Monkey Bars by Chris Goode, Albertine in Five Times by Michel Tremblay, Love and Information by Caryl Churchill, After the End by Dennis Kelly, Cutters Don’t Cry by Christine Dzidrums, Macbeth by William Shakespeare, 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane, What it feels like to have Anxiety by Meghan Rinks, Performance Anxiety by Mind, Every Brilliant Thing and Lungs by Duncan Macmillan, Mess by Caroline Horton, Charlie and Lola Theme by John Gresswell, Engine Fire by Silent Partner, Lost Boy by Ruth B, God Moving Over the Face of the World by Vitamin String Quartet, We Bought a Zoo by Jonsi, La Campanellla by Franz Liszt, Intertwined by Dodie Clark, Say Something by A Great Big World, Holes by Layla, Sun by Jonsi, Teardrop by Massive Attack

Thankyou to Katie Walton for filming and editing the video, and we hope you enjoyed the performance.
If you would like to donate, visit our crowdfunding page and help us support Young Minds.

Base Layer 2.0

For those of you who didn’t manage to see a live performance of Base Layer last week, we have a couple of updates and an exciting piece of news:

1. We are currently working very hard to make a video of the performance available for online viewing. There have been a couple of technical hiccups in the last couple of days (hence the delay in putting this up) but things are well on their way, and we hope to have that available in the near future. Thankyou for your patience.

2. There is an album of all of the photos from the production on our facebook page, so head over there to take a look at what we created. You can also take a look at all of our visual media in the OUR WORK tab of the blog.

And Exciting News:

Due to the success of our recent performances, the Abbey Theatre in St Albans have invited us to perform Base Layer once again in order to help us reach a wider audience with our work. This performance will be on SATURDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER and tickets will be available online soon (make sure you check back here to book yours first!). Thankyou so much to the Abbey Theatre for this fantastic opportunity to spread awareness across our community. Put the date in your diary and we hope to see you there!