'...boldness has genius, power and magic in it' - this Goethe quote was one of many that used to adorn the walls of the drama studio at my secondary school and it echoed loudly in my mind in late December 2018: I had a story to tell and permission to tell it and now I had to 'begin it'. I was working in a show until Christmas Eve and on the 29th Dan and I were flying out to Canada to attend his cousins wedding and meet the Canadian branch of his family before our own wedding in May. Before we left, fixed in my intention, I ordered 'The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide' by Mark Fisher, it arrived whilst we were away, but as soon as we were back I opened it and began to read. It has a very useful section called 'The Timing' which begins from the August before you plan to go to the fringe ... well, I'd missed that ... and September, October, November ... I flicked forwards to January: 'to get the best venue and the best slots (you've) got to be approaching people in January'. It was midnight on the 13th January and Dan and I were due to go away again to New Zealand at the end of the week (I might add all this travel was completely out of the ordinary and neither of us had been abroad for four years, but it just so happened that the opportunities had come up together and we had said 'yes'). Exhausted from our flight home, my whole body began to buzz with adrenaline, overcharged with the reality of the challenge I now faced I did not sleep for hours. Would I begin, or would I back down? In any other circumstances my natural caution would have pulled me up at this obstacle to think ' I'll do it next year', but this play was screaming to be made and demanding that I rise to it's schedule, not fit it in to mine. Besides, the last six months had been about saying 'yes'; 'yes' to the wedding, 'yes' to travel, 'yes' - this story being told was not about me feeling ready, it had begun and it had it's own genius, power and magic in it.
behind the scenes
- Jun 21, 2019
- 2 min read
It wasn't until August 2018 that I thought about Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens again. It had been a busy few years for Dan and I, acting, making films and relocating to Stratford-Upon-Avon, back where I had first discovered this little-known story. I had spent the previous 2 years working on R&Ds and new writing projects; devising, developing and sometimes even writing for the productions I was in. I had seen the process of building a show from scratch time and time again and one morning, having dreamt vividly about turning this story into a play, I woke up and knew it was time; Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens had my name on it and I was going to bring it to the stage; but not without the rights. Clueless, I reached out to Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity that very morning to ask about rights - although it was not till the 31st October that we had all the permissions and information we needed to proceed. The permission was confirmed just as I was due to start rehearsals for my Christmas job (Santa's Christmas Robin at the Woodville, Gravesend) which would run till December 24th, but it was already in my mind to take this little-known prequel to Edinburgh Fringe. 2019 was due to be a busy year, with travel to Canada in January, New Zealand in February and our wedding in May, but none of that was going to stop me. The project seemed to have a drive of its own and despite my sizeable and very real doubts and fears a wheel was turning and it was up to me to keep up.
- May 26, 2019
- 2 min read
Finding a little-known prequel with my name in it felt pretty special, particularly when later that same week I came across a matching early edition of Peter and Wendy in a charity shop and it all seemed to make sense when, later that year, I was cast as Peter in a production of Peter Pan at Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries.
This was my first experience of playing Peter and I loved every second. The stage play had premiered in London in Dec 1904, and here I was 110 years later, borrowing the well worn boots of the boy who wouldn't grow up, in the town that Barrie himself called the 'genesis' of his story, having been the place where he had first imagined, at the age of 13, adventures in the Neverland which the world would fall in love with.
I have to admit that at the time this seemed a tidy and fitting conclusion to the run of coincidence and these beautiful books sat together on a shelf reminding me of my adventure in Neverland. For the next four and a half years I would not think about them much at all - until one night in 2018 I had a vivid dream about putting on this story as a play and within half an hour of waking had begun the process of looking into the rights.
This time was not wasted, it gave me vital time to grow as an actor and creative and the elapsed time proved significant in one other way, that would end up taking us all the way back to Dumfries, that 'genesis' of Neverland, but I was yet to discover it ... and like me, I'm going to ask that you wait to find out.