Donation to Young Minds

Apologies for the lack of updates since our last performance – term time got into full swing and we had to wait on a couple of things before making our announcements.

Firstly we would like to thank everyone who came to see the extra performance on Saturday 10th September: the audience was much bigger than we were expecting and everyone felt very engaged with the work we were presenting. Thankyou very much to everyone who helped us at the Abbey Theatre – especially Tina, Paul and Susie who I know in person did a lot of work to help us out – we felt very welcome and supported over there.

Secondly we are delighted to announce that we will be donating £2,535.75 to Young Minds. Thankyou very much to everyone who has donated or bought a ticket to one of the performances; it is thanks to your generosity that we have reached this fantastic amount. You will have helped other young people suffering with a mental illness as well as helping their families and friends understand how to help them best. If you would like more information on the work that Young Minds are doing you can take a look at their website, or this post on our blog.

Theatre of Minds is not finished. We will continue to update the blog when we can, and it is our aim that at some point in the future we’ll come back with a whole new project and production. For now, if you would like to look at the work we have been doing, you can check out the Our Work tab on the blog and follow us on twitter for regular updates.

Thankyou for all of your support – the project was bigger and better than we ever could have imagined and we are all so proud of what we have achieved.

Until next time.

xxx

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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’

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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:

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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!

Loneliness
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.

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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.

Base Layer Tickets

Tickets are still available for our first performance of Base Layer at the Trestle Arts Base on Saturday 16th July and you can book those here.

But we have now SOLD OUT the performance at Beaumont School, and tickets are no longer available for this performance.

If you haven’t booked yet, we hope you will join us on 16th July to help raise funds and awareness for Young Minds. More information on the production can be found on the Base Layer page of the blog, here.

Meetings

Once upon a time, Theatre of Minds was just a team of two. Me and Lucy would set aside some time every so often and set out a plan for the next half-term or so: blog posts we wanted to go out, people we needed to contact, lists of dates and deadlines. Nowadays, we have a cast and crew and lots of support from the community, so our meetings have grown bigger and more frequent.

On Sunday, our management meeting got bigger. I met with Katie about the next steps of the project. She and Francesca are going to be taking on some new responsibilities in the project – making my life a lot easier. Expect to hear a lot more from these two in the coming weeks!

A couple of weeks ago, I met with Kat Cormack – a mental health activist, working for CLASP and Young Minds along with several others. Counselling, Life Advice and Suicide Prevention are working to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. Kat’s work means that she sets up events like this a lot (most recently the Walk Out of Darkness in London) so she had lots of ideas of things that we could do for Theatre of Minds. Lots of things came out of the meeting that I had never thought about before, and I hope that we can continue to be in contact throughout the process.

Side note: this project is so exciting but it is bigger than I ever thought it would be. So many people seem to know about the project and everyone wants to help. it’s amazing, but sometimes things can be quite over-whelming because I feel like a very small fish! This project has become very personal to me. It’s a fantastic creative outlet and so the positive response we have received has been very special. It’s massive, but so good.

I also went in to Beaumont a couple of weeks ago and met with Miss Shepherd. We talked seating arrangements and performance logistics, and made the whole thing even more real! Now I am further along the path to creating our very complicated rehearsal schedule – we have actors who have lessons, over three locations and only two weeks to put it all together in. Logistics meetings are starting to become very important!

Base Layer: A production by young people for Young Minds – come and join us in supporting young people’s mental health. Tickets available here.

Updates

Some notices (but exciting notices which I hope you will want to read about!)

Firstly
We are delighted to announce that through our crowdfunding campaign along with some outside donations, we have managed to raise nearly £1060 towards this project.

Crowdfunding Amount

This means that we have now surpassed our target of £1000, which will be used to help us put on the best production possible in aid of Young Minds. Thankyou so much to everyone who has donated and got us to this point; we never thought we would raise this much so quickly and have been blown away by the support we have received. Any further contributions will be added to the pot to donate to Young Minds at the end of the project (along with any funds that we don’t use to put on the production) so please continue to share the link and spread awareness of our project. If you would like to find out more about our crowdfunding campaign take a look at our previous posts:
Crowdfunding – We need your help
Crowdfunding Campaign

Secondly
We were featured in the latest edition of the Herts Advertiser. A couple of weeks ago, I conducted a phone interview with chief reporter Debbie White and told her all about Theatre of Minds, what has happened and what we are planning for the next few months.

Herts Ad

Thankyou so much to Debbie White and the Herts Advertiser for their support in spreading the word of our project. We are delighted that our local community has taken such an interest as this production and this cause are so important to us.

Make sure that you are following us on twitter (@theatreofminds) and that you have liked our facebook page to stay up to date with all our goings on.

 

Music to my ears

Slowly but surely, we are moving through to the creative part of this project. We are putting our company together, and are very excited to work with the actors and crew members that we have lined up. As our rehearsal process is going to be so short, it would be almost impossible to devise a piece of theatre from scratch that would be long enough (and good enough) for people to come and see. Therefore, most of the story arc and outline of the piece will be planned out beforehand, and this process is starting now.

We want to use extracts from plays to give us a basis with which to sit our performance, so I have been reading and making notes on anything I can get my hands on. But another very important aspect of this piece will be music. Physical theatre and movement sequences will form a big part of our production, in order to highlight the abstract nature of mental illness, and these will most often be accompanied by a soundtrack.

Music has always had a big effect on me as a person. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (right back to the home video of me aged 2 performing nursery rhymes to my parents in the living room) and is something that I turn to for help when I need it. Music in films always makes me cry; listening to music on car journeys gives me time to think; and the ’emotional outlet playlist’ on my phone has served me well providing distraction and escapism from whatever is getting me down. I am often teased at home about how ‘my life is a musical’ as I sing my way through stacking the dishwasher, but sometimes it feels as if it is true. I can document my childhood based on which musical I was obsessed with at the time, and certain songs hold very specific memories for me and can transport me back to a performance or celebration or time that I spent with someone special. Music is my brain food and recently I have been learning to use that to my own advantage.

As an actor, I have always reacted well to a musical stimulus. I love workshops where I can spend half an hour developing a character to a constant soundtrack, because I can completely lose myself in the sound and go off to some other world in my mind. For my most recent production, my ‘pre-show playlist’ had songs to get me into character before each performance. I listened to my character’s journey through the lyrics and emotions of the tracks, helping me to forget my own problems and step into Cathy’s shoes for a couple of hours. As the majority of my music collection is of the music theatre genre, most of the songs were telling some other story – completely unrelated to the play that I was in – but in each one, a specific line caught my attention and could be applied to Cathy’s story. I found that this allowed me to focus on the tiny details of my character and what was most important for me to be aware of on stage.

Theatre of Minds already has a youtube playlist dedicated to collecting tracks that could be used for devising, whether they make it into the performance or not. Music is such a personal thing, so I am very excited to see how the actors respond to the tracks and how our differing opinions culd affect the journey of the piece. I hope that we can use music to transport the audience to a world of their own, to involve them in our performance and perhaps create a memory which they can come back to in the future.

If you have tracks that mean something to you, or lyrics that stand out to you which you think we could use in our devising, please let us know because we are always looking for new ideas, new emotions and new inspiration.All your problems will go away...

A Quick Update…

Three things that you might be interested to know:

  1. Our fundraising campaign has been going better than we ever could have expected. After a month of our crowdfunding page being live, we have raised 50% of the funds we are aiming for. This is incredible and we are so grateful to everyone who has donated so far! The support we have received has blown us away, so thankyou for making this project possible. Please make sure that you carry on sharing the link (www.gofund.me/theatreofminds) and spreading the word so that we can reach our goal and put on the best production possible!
  2. If you would like to be involved in the project, as a performer, crew member or as part of the marketing team, make sure that you have filled in our form so that we have all of your details recorded. We would like to have our company finalised (as much as possible) by the end of February, and definitely by easter, so if you would like to be involved (especially as a performer) you haven’t got long to put your name down. We would love to have as many people involved as possible as this is a project for our local community, so check out the dates and then get in touch. Any questions, email us on theatreofminds239@gmail.com
  3. The creative process is beginning to become a priority as well. We are taking inspiration from around us and collating a long list of material which we could use to create our piece. If you have any suggestions of media/research we should look at (whether it is a play around the theme of mental illness, a piece of music that we could use for a physical theatre sequence, or an article from the media with particular relevance) we would love to hear from you. If you would like to get in touch. Send us an email on theatreofinds239@gmail.com or tweet us @theatreofminds

Please get involved and spread the word if you can. Thankyou for your continued support: this would not be possible without you.

Why do I love the theatre?

Having just finished in a production last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I am a regular sufferer of ‘post-show blues’ – I am so happy during the run but then when the show closes I really miss it. So I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes me so happy when I’m performing.

I know it’s such a cliche, but when I’m on stage I get to lose myself for awhile. I can leave my own problems behind for a couple of hours and step into someone else’s life. Often times I don’t even notice the audience are there – I’m in my own little world and it feels safe. All the decisions are already made for me and I just have to go out there and be my character: tell their story for awhile instead of living my own.

But something that I love even more than the performing buzz are the people. All the theatre that I have been involved in has this amazing sense of community coming with it as part of a packaged deal! During a run you see your cast and crew more than the people you live with; they see so many emotional ups and downs and that freedom to let yourself go gives you very strong friendships. Theatre brings people together: people from different backgrounds with different skills and passions are part of one big group. It’s not just the creative team who are brought together by the art – the audience are connected to each other and to the actors on stage, by the experience they are sharing.

I am so grateful for the families that the theatre has given me and I can’t wait to create more in the future. Theatre is the thing that I love most, so I want to use that for something else that I feel passionately about. I hope that you will join me in the Theatre of Minds Family.