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  • Behind"Betwixt-&-Between"

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.


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  • Behind"Betwixt-&-Between"

Who could have imagined when I was writing my last blog post to you, on the 18th February 2020, the reality that would sweep across the globe and become universally definitive of this year?


Coronavirus.


When theaters began to close on the 15th March, a month ahead of our first booked tour date, none of us knew just how serious or just how long the lockdown would be for the industry.


It soon became apparent as, over the course of the next week, our venues began to cancel.

It was strange as it happened. In one respect it was all expected in the circumstances; a formality, business-like. In another, terrifyingly efficient in dismantling, what for me had been more that 7 months of learning and work to put together this small, precious first UK tour...

7 months (unpaid) work - gone - it is hard to explain that

... in the same week the production of Macbeth I was rehearsing was cancelled (most of the actors waived any fee to try to assist the company in their most immediate losses), my 'day-job' closed and the patchwork of freelance events and engagements I had booked for the next two months one-by-one disappeared...

till there was nothing left

... and yet I felt lucky.

Lucky that my family was safe and I was able to stay safe too.

Lucky that our show could pack down and 'hibernate', when other creative companies I know and love were facing the terror of covering the overheads of a venue or staff, without any way of generating income.

Lucky that I had savings I could lean on and that the cost of our life, on our beautiful narrow boat, was low enough not to be a financial hardship.

Lucky - in the end - that I was furloughed from my day-work and that I had earned enough as a freelance creative over the past few years to qualify for the government SEISS scheme.


Others were not so lucky.


Many in the industry are seriously hurting and I implore you to support as many creatives as you can, whenever you have the opportunity over the next weeks, months and years.


On the other hand, totally at odds with the harshness of the situation, was the outpouring of expression, passion and talent I became surrounded by online. The wonder of artists and creatives is that you can take away everything and they'll find a way to do it anyway (there's no people like show people). My social media feed was, and still is, like a Royal Variety Performance every day of the week - the level and scope of talent and creativity was insane and that cannot help but be inspiring.


Beside this I was locked down, in what proved to be a glorious spring, on our narrow boat on the river Avon. I cannot complain. The glory of nature put on her best show (new life, otters, owls) and we had a front row seat. There was plenty of drama, mostly involving ducklings, two of which we found abandoned and being attacked the day we were supposed to be performing for J.M.Barrie's 160th birthday at his birthplace (9th May), we ended up raising them and released them two weeks ago, (we see them often and they are doing wonderfully). It was thoroughly rewarding.


Also, as lockdown was announced just two weeks before we were due to start rehearsals for our tour, there was the strange situation of our wonderful new music for the show coming in just after the tour was cancelled.


If life is art - spring 2020 was a beautiful, terrible, incomparable, unstoppable masterpiece.


There was another undercurrent for us in this time: Dan and I were planning to sell our boat in the Spring in order to try and buy something bigger for the next phase of our life. When we met, Dan had just begun to fit out what became our beloved first home from a metal shell and I always tell people, we didn't date, we built a boat. We built her, worked from her, lived on her, she even picked us up from the river outside the church on our wedding day. She was a physical manifestation of the first six years of our life together. However, she was finished and much as we loved her (and oh, how we love her) we were ready for a new project and in need of more space for Dan to have a workshop (not easy on a boat - though his on-board editing suite was something to behold). So in the time we would have been on tour, we loved her back into her very best shape and as lockdown lifted we put her on the market... Like the bird she was named after, she flew - sold within a week. A week later our offer was accepted on a gorgeous, but run down cottage, with a river at the bottom of the garden, a new 'shell' for us to love and build together. All going to plan we get the keys and move in next week. It's been a lot and it's been quick. As if life itself called 'all change please' and despite the naturally mixed emotions of so many beginnings and endings, there has been a beauty in the nature of these comings and goings that feel to me like the satisfying conclusion of a chapter of life well lived...


...and once we turn the page?


What will the next six months hold for us all, who can tell - and who would dare try to guess?

Betwixt-and-Between will be rebooking Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens at venues for February 2021, hoping by then that the theatre we all love is back up and running. We will return to finish our music - which is by the brilliant Patrick Neil Doyle and is everything and more we could have hoped for, and I will be pushing on with a little collection of writing projects I have been dreaming up in this fallow time...


... and we might get a dog!


Stay safe and hopefully we will be back performing for you soon.

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  • Behind"Betwixt-&-Between"

Peter and Solomon - Arthur Rackham

We've not posted for a while over the winter and I realised our last few blogs have all been about bench marks for our show: Previews at Moat Brae, 'Cutting the Fringe' and taking the show to Poland. They have all been based on moments of achievement.

Right now we are in the process of lining up our Spring Tour which coincides with J.M.Barrie's 160th anniversary. Confirmed dates so far include London at New Wimbledon Theatre (16th-18th April), The Other Place, RSC (30th April), The Place, Bedford (30th May) and a very special date in Barrie's hometown of Kirriemuir, Scotland on his birthday (9th May) in association with the J.M.Barrie Society's JMB160 celebrations. We have been working away on some exciting creative developments too...


But before we return to updating you on progress, I would like to take a moment to recognise part of the day-to-day process behind these tangible benchmarks - doubt -

in an attempt to demystify it and hopefully encourage people that may be wrestling with doubt of their own.

In Peter's story it is quickly established that, 'to have faith is to have wings' and as a society we are so used to sharing and celebrating stories of achievement - our 'happy thoughts!' - that sometimes 'flying' with just the right amount of 'faith' and 'magic' seems like the normal route to success, we don't always take time to acknowledge that doubt often follows every flight like Peter's shadow (If only we could take it off and shut it in a drawer).

In Barrie's prequel even Peter finds himself grounded by doubt. The wise crow, Solomon Caw, tells him; 'You have caught the doubt, you will never fly home now, not even on windy days' - a feeling I'm sure we're all familiar with.

Don't get me wrong, the journey of creating this play has taken huge leaps of faith and been sprinkled with moments of pure magic, as the universe has seemed to rush in to meet our efforts, but doubt has been manifest at every level and stage of the project; creatively, financially but perhaps most obviously in the decision making associated with the parts of this process which are entirely new to me, like producing and marketing.

A shadow is a good image, it never really leaves your side, but (and this is the important bit) whilst it is always present and may loom over you at times, it becomes much less powerful every time you 'do' something, even if what you 'do' fails, you cannot help but fail less and learn more than your doubts would have you imagine.

Doubt is a reality for us all, even for Peter Pan, but doubt is not the end of Peter's story and it need not be the end of ours. Solomon promises to teach Peter 'as many of the bird ways that can be learnt by one of such an awkward shape': in the same way, as I struggle daily to master strange new skills with my 'awkward shape', I must be willing to fail or fall short more often than I succeed in order to keep moving. Moments of progress that we share publicly owe as much to managing a relationship with doubt as to any 'faith' or 'magic'. We do not always fly, but like Peter we can learn new ways to solve problems and still get where we're heading by another route.

Recently I was encouraging a brilliant young creative to put on their own show (my new favourite hobby) when their doubts spoke, 'but I'm not a producer, like you'. A producer? Like me??! I couldn't help but laugh and I quickly disillusioned them: I am NOT a producer, I'm just a creative who happens to love this story and be responsible for this show. Every day I have to 'produce' my doubt reminds what I am not, what I am failing to do, where I am falling short - it is exhausting. Yet within this short fall, there is still undeniably a small tour emerging: A tour that I can assure you has not been reached by 'faith, trust or pixie dust' but graft .... and doubt.

So, if you have a nagging desire to create I would encourage you to get very comfortable with your doubts and do it anyway.

On the path to growth you can feel torn between who/ where you are (your limitations) and who/what you are becoming (your aspirations), where one ends and the other begins is not always clear. Like Peter you can find yourself as 'not exactly a boy' 'nor exactly a bird', but a 'betwixt-and-between' - maybe there's a comfort in owning that, especially when it's what you set out to be all along.

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