Wednesday, 15 May 2013


WHAT A WEEK. First run of An Inspector Calls- check. Final rehearsals of Vincent in Brixton before tech week- check. Ceilidh- check. 

Yes, that’s right, I said ceilidh. And that is definitely not the phonetic spelling of it. A Ceilidh- (pronounced kay-lee… like if Peter Kay and Ang Lee hooked up, had a kid and decided to go double-barrelled)...

... Is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves the playing of folk music and dancing. Or if you’re a bunch of actors, a lot of free styling and a few high kicks thrown in for good measure.

To sum the story up, the cast of Theatre by the Lake’s summer season invaded the quiet sleepy village of Portinscale, occupying their village hall and conquering their ceilidh. Job done.

I managed to get a couple of quotes from a few of the locals who survived the attack…

Local 1: “It’s so nice having the actors join us… They’re so… *searches frantically for an inoffensive yet appropriate word*… UNINHIBITED!”

Local 2: “It’s lovely to see people… erm… *same desperate searching face as previous local*… EXPRESSING themselves. *wipes sweat off his brow*. Really lovely.

Initially, there were a few sticky moments in the festivities… Namely, when the acting company BY CHANCE won three raffle prizes in a row. Mutterings of “FIX” were heard amongst the ranks but luckily all was forgiven as nobody chose the top prize: Alan Titchmarsh’s biography, ‘Nobbut a Lad’.

The highlight of the evening was during a dance called the Circassian Circle, not too dissimilar to The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brechtian reference, 10 points if this was my A-Level drama essay) when we all clasped hands in a circle (hence the title), skipped into the middle and finished with a gentle right legged kick.
I said a GENTLE right legged kick.

The hero of the night was Peter McGovern, who not only flourished the skip with a perfect high kick, but promptly landed on the floor, styled it out and then when asked -in jest, by the caller- to demonstrate the move again, not only counted himself in “And 5, 6, 7, 8…” but executed a high kick with the extension and point that Darcey Bussell would’ve been proud of. 

Other stars of the night included Ben Ingles, who, when instructed by the caller to creep to the top of the ceilidh dance, literally dropped to the floor and commando crawled the length of the village hall. Champion.

Gareth Cassidy performed an entire dance whilst giving a fully accurate and detailed impression of Pauline Quirk in character as Susan Wright of Broadchurch fame, dog on a lead included. 

And Bella Marshall’s ‘Wall Dance’ left spectators redefining the meaning of the verb, to dance.

We changed the face of Portinscale and it in turn, changed us.

Next week is tech week and Vincent takes the stage!


Thursday, 9 May 2013


I am SUNBURNT! Yes, the sun has finally come to Keswick and my face, the first of many of my body parts to burn, is the colour of a well ripened beetroot. Were I to climb a mountain at night, (and I’m not ruling anything out right now) I would serve for a perfectly good beacon and or camp fire. Whichever was in greatest need at the time.

To celebrate the sun arriving, I decided to pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and go Kayaking. Now, I haven’t stepped into a Kayak since I was a Brownie, circa 1995, and the last time I ventured in, not only did I capsize myself and ruin my Brownie guide sash but I got shat on by a seagull. Or a pigeon. I’m still not sure which… But vengeance shall be mine. (I also got shat on whilst Morris dancing with Brownies. I probably deserved it.)

We kayaked all the way round Derwentwater, rowing INTO the wind. Yes, INTO the wind. I have very little upper body strength at the best of times, let alone when my stringy triceps are forced against a medium to strong wind (breeze). So guess who was lagging at the back? Bringing up the rear, if you will? Yep, me.

I tried loads of distraction techniques, pointing out the mountains, the cormorants, the algae, in the hope that while they were all gazing wistfully at them, old no-guns over here could put the pedal to the metal and catch up! It did not work.

However, it was worth every second of armony (arm agony… it’s a melange) because at the end of the trip we were rewarded with scones the size of South America. Literally, they were HUGE. Nichol End Marine CafĂ©, I salute you!

Keswick is a trap, because in the sun it feels like I am on holiday, surrounded by incredible scenery, a lake to swim in, mountains to climb and scones to eat… It’s very easy to forget you’ve got a job to do! I blame the bank holiday weekend, one extra day and it all goes to pot!

But it is back to work, serious work, An Inspector Calls work. I have finally learnt all my lines and am “off-book” as we say in the biz. *luvviealert*.This is brilliant as I am now able to use my right arm when acting. And I do some GREAT right arm acting.

The set for An Inspector Calls is epic, a raised diamond platform with dining table and chairs set in front of a huge background of industrial cogs which move throughout the play at various pivotal points. The only thing I’m worried about is falling off the diamond. Nothing major then.

I can’t believe I have already been here five weeks and we open Vincent in Brixton in two… GAHHHH! My friends have threatened to come and watch and sit in the front row bedecked in the Dutch football kit. A different sort of beacon to my face. I have threatened blue murder if they follow through... 

I’ll keep you posted.