It's been a year since people were told to avoid theatres (although they weren't ordered to close until 20th March).
This time a year ago the world felt very strange as people began to talk about the idea of "Lockdown", supermarket shelves lay empty and bit-by-bit my work as a self-employed Actor and Theatre Maker fell away - leaving an unknown - that even in an industry which requires you to court uncertainty felt daunting.
I've avoided writing this blog for a long time - as I wanted to wait and write something hopeful about new plans, once this period was all over and we had survived to do what we love another day. I wanted to write about projects and dates and where we go from here. There have been times in the past year when I have come close to writing these things with that hopeful air - only to have plans dashed away again - but one year on I feel it's only right to try and say something...
First some admissions - I have not used this Lockdown to write a work of genius like Shakespeare did when plague closed the Theatres in London, I have not learnt an instrument or a new language or - thankfully - taken 'our friend' Rishi's advice to retrain. What have I done? I have attempted to stay active creatively by becoming involved in amazing initiatives by some pretty incredible people who saw opportunity in the chaos of last March. I was lucky enough to take part in The Show Must Go Online - cast as the indomitable Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost for the week of my birthday - the perfect gift given we were due to be touring Peter Pan in Kensington Garden's at that time and obviously could not - and I performed as a little mouse in a heartwarming online short at Christmas. I joined a wonderful of community of Actors (AIQ) to do weekly screen workshops - a skill I have often found intimidating and a habit which has challenged me and led to personal growth both as a performer and a person. I have formed and strengthened connections with kindred spirits (new and old friends) to plant seeds of potential future collaborations, which feel full of promise and I've engaged with a group of friends from my former day job, at Shakespeare's Birthplace, to 'turn our toolkits unpside-down' and facilitate people to express their own experiences in a creative online community we named comm.unityACTS.
Danny and I have sold our beautiful boat and moved to a rundown plot in Scotland which we hope we can turn into a creative base for our work and artistic residency resource that we can share. Last Spring we brought up two tiny ducklings that were orphaned on the river and released them eight weeks later (with advice at every step from an animal rescue centre) - when both they, and our hearts, had grown several sizes in quick succession - we have been lucky enough to see them occasionally since and they are thriving in the wild. Once the ducklings had flown the nest (so to speak) an excess of love for them and reignited passion for animals has seen me volunteering at our local wildlife rescue and more recently adopting a beautiful rescue dog.
As for Betwixt-and Between, we are excited in 2021 to be presenting J.M.Barrie's The Twelve Pound Look , a collaboration for us with our friends at Pleasure Dome Theatre Company - planned late last year we have suffered the disappointment of the latest Lockdown causing delay but will be filming the project for broadcast later this month. Peter Pan in Kensington Garden's rebooked for February, was then postponed till May and sadly has suffered another set back, we are actively looking to tour this show in the summer with it's beautiful new music and have rescheduled our New Wimbledon dates to October. We are praying we are able to perform it then! We have also been working away on a new project we hope to be able to share with you in 2022 - it's a completely original piece which we are loving breathing into the early stages of life.
The future is still foggy and unclear, the terrain difficult and draining, juggling projects and emotional highs and lows, but there is hope in the air. Maybe it's the spring? - but I am looking forward to finding out what the next 525600 minutes hold for us at Betwixt-and-Between.