Doubtless it’s been a tough year for many on both personal and Worldly scales with many hardships, happenings and ongoing issues to be carried over and held in our thoughts and hearts to influence our daily actions in 2016. There is an indisputable Wind of Change howling about the globe right now with painful upheavals, brutal reminders, shaky new grounds underfoot and uncertain futures. I’ve certainly had my fair share of personal hurdles this year but the eternal optimist in me can’t help seeing this global energetic ‘reset button’ having been pressed as an opportunity for developing better habits, creating new mindsets and forging new forward-thinking communities. For me personally, I have a lot to be thankful to the year 2015 for and always enjoy celebrating the ‘positive’ with a hearty dollop of gratitude.
Without wanting to bore-on in faux-diary fashion I’d like to acknowledge and honour the events, people and experiences that have enabled me to leave the year with a sense of optimism and positive momentum. So without further ado I’ll crack-on and share it all forward (by no means a definitive list and in no particular order) in the hope that someone out there may in some way benefit from these wonderful things, people, places and institutions onto which I place a lovely big Happy New Year smackeroo. x
DEVOTED AND DISGRUNTLED (D&D, Improbable Theatre Co.)
Each year I look forward heartily to the three day ‘open space’ extravaganza that is D&D. It’s awesome. A creative rockpool of all things theatre-related it’s the mecca we actors, performers, directors, writers, producers, administrators, enthusiasts and the like pilgrimage to each year to bathe in a community of like-minds and revisit the question ‘what are we going to do about theatre?’
Expertly facilitated (in a way you’ll want to adopt for everything you ever do in the future) by Phelim McDermott and the fabulous team at Improbable Theatre Co, you’ll find your feet (literally), have your say and get the chance to explore every facet of this beguiling industry. Some of my closest personal and professional friendships are a direct result of attending this event. I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’ll find your tribe and leave with a sense of refreshed inspiration. This year it’s in Birmingham. Which has great shopping opportunities. And cadbury’s chocolate. Go.
KATH BURLINSON & THE AUTHENTIC ARTIST COLLECTIVE
Talking of inspirational D&D friendships, I have to give a massive spoonful of gratitude to a truly fabulous lady. Kath Burlinson is an artistic powerhouse; creating, holding and facilitating the artistry of hundreds of emerging and established artists across every creative medium.
We met at D&D and I invited her to join a workshop of a play I’d written and was directing at Theatre503 (she’s an exquisite actress) From there I was invited to take one of her three day Authentic Artist workshops. I’ve never looked back. A safe-house laboratory, skilfully and mindfully held by her within which an artist can explore, develop and be witnessed - the Authentic Artist community of workshops enables the artist within you to evolve. Through Kath I’ve met my core group of friends and creative colleagues, as well as being introduced to further artistic development through the mastery of Paul Oertel and Nancy Spanier.
She’s a corker dear Kath. Word to the momma.
GOLDEN EGG ACADEMY
Anyone who’s ever attempted to write a book will know how hard it is. Let alone a children’s book. Months (or in my case - years!) of redrafting, reworking, troubleshooting and editing by yourself takes it’s toll, all the while with the ever-growing doubt your book is actually any good creeping up on you. It’s a lonely process at times. But once again I’ve been lucky enough to find another tribe of like-minds(!!) at The Golden Egg Academy.
A supportive academy for new writers of children’s fiction (established relatively recently by the amazing editor Imogen Cooper) the academy offers workshops and mentoring for successful applicants, guiding authors through the book-writing process until submission ready wherever possible. Dr Vanessa Harbour has been my editor now for over a year and together we have navigated our way from draft to draft having fun along the way. 2016 hopefully holds a draft of my book within it that’s worthy of me being mentored (the next step) and ultimately, submission ready. Fingers crossed!
JOHN DOE MANAGEMENT
Just over a year ago now I was contacted by the fabulous agency John Doe Management regarding representation for commercials as an actor. Since then I’ve done two commercials and have had plenty of pencils (near-misses!). It appears I have reached the ‘family man’ bracket! I’m excited and eager to get back out there in 2016. Anyone need a businessman? Postman? Dishevelled dad…?
Big thanks to them xx
Personal development and inner/outer health care has always been of great interest to me. Taking care of myself energetically, physically and spiritually is a must or it all goes tits-up quite frankly! Over the years my explorations have introduced a couple of wonderful holistic practitioners who have health, healing and helpfulness at heart. Big thanks to them both :)
My dear pal Lewis is someone I’d like to thank for always being an inspiration to me. A testament to walking the walk, Lewis is a true artist …and I want to share her with everyone! Not only is she an fab actress but also a wonderful songstress! (Or Folkalist to be more precise.) Januray 2016 marks the launch of her debut EP Catch Me - which I can recommend with bell’s on. Beautiful and enriching every way.
Another multitalented gal (you’ll notice a theme here!) My good friend Alice has talent in bucketloads. I’m giving my storytelling Goddess and holistic painter (I have two original Fernbanks on my walls!) a shout out from my south-east london shed where we’ve chomped many a healthy homemade choc and drank coffee whilst putting the world to rights, and hope her recent move to Edinburgh brings all the magic she deserves.
Adorn your walls too: http://alicefernbankstoryteller.com/artist/
Hear her storytelling tales: http://alicefernbankstoryteller.com/about-2/
Pilates! Yoga! Exercise that isn’t the gym! …Call me 20 years behind but 2015 marked my discovery of a physical practice that really works for me. Hooray! Finally I’ve managed to sort out my painful shoulder and neck by being tutored by a very skillful man, Harold. The teacher at my local gym (moved elsewhere now I believe *weep weep*) Harold taught me how to connect my body and mind. He has classes all over and is someone I’m grateful to for starting what I know will be a lifelong practice for me now :)
https://www.youtube.com/user/harold4utube (I’ve never used these vids but you’ll see how great he is!)
Director Kate is the Queen of ‘Can’. Yes, she’s my bestie but to be honest she’s the real ying to my yang in many ways. I started 2015 off in style by celebrating her glorious wedding in Tobago last January, then watched her whirlwind her way through the year leaping from project-to-project. Directorial talent with heart. If anyone can bring a group of creative people together it’s Kate. Watch out 2016…! There’s a lot of love for this woman.
CAT VS CUCUMBER
You’ve all seen it. My fave random vid for 2015. Has anyone got a cat so I can try this out…?
YOUTH MUSIC THEATRE UK (YMTUK)
Anyone who knows me will know I love this company. I’ve worked for them for 4 years now writing, devising and directing shows for them and can’t champion them enough. They nurture young artistic talent and give creatives like me a chance to make new work. This year I was able to write and direct my favourite to date, The Midnight Flower Press. Thank you to Jon Bromwich for allowing me to fill a stage with pillow fluff!
Let’s see what 2016 brings.
INTERACT & WEST END IN SCHOOLS
We all know being an actor or creative type is rarely enough to survive on full-time these days. Every successful artist I know relies upon their ability to step outside their field and spread their skillset amongst various other projects that require a creative angle, and make a few bob at the same time. Two companies that have not only supported me in this way but, most importantly, respected and championed the artist in me are Interact and West End In Schools. Big respect to companies like these who keep bread on actors tables! :)
SCENE & HEARD
Right at the end of my year I managed to get involved in one of my favourite projects to date. Scene & Heard are a charity that work with children, helping them learn the playwriting process and result in the most marvellous, uplifting and profound plays ever written! I was lucky enough to play One-Beat the crotchet, lost on a desert island. Written by a truly talented 10 year old. Joy.
I heartily recommend you all supporting this wonderful company however you can. And above all - go see their work!
So these are a few choice statements of gratitude, out there for you all to see and peruse at will. Other highlights of my 2015 include:
Taking part in the ENO weekend lab workshop at the Barbican theatre with Deborah Warner.
Monthly play-reading sessions with Glyn Maxwell - wind n willows being the best to date complete with champers, blankets and a living room picnic!
http://glynmaxwell.com/ (Read his book ‘on poetry’ - amazing!)
Touring China for 10 weeks with the Twelve Tenors. Singing on massive stages with a blinding group of geezers! :) Thank you Spirit Productions.
Gratitude and love for spending time with my lovely Arvid and family.
Watching amazing theatre productions, tv series and films (Too many to mention!) Thank you to these artists and producers for keeping this industry alive.
What do I hope for myself in 2016?
Well the actor in me has resurfaced big time, so I’d like a theatre agent to support and work alongside and establish a new chapter in my career.
I’d like to get my kids book finished and submitted.
I’d like to work with wonderful like minds on wonderful projects.
I’m open to seeing new countries.
Meeting new people
Making new memories and experiences to blather on about at the end of 2016!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!