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'For Charlotte.'

Almost as soon as the beautiful Arthur Rackham print had led me to the existence of a prequel to Peter Pan I called my eldest sister, an oracle of knowledge on books and culture. "Did you know?", I demanded as I excitedly spoke about finding the print and the subsequent discovery of J.M.Barrie's extra story (I'm not sure if she had a chance to give an answer as when I'm excited about something I don't always leave the space) but she listened patiently and made all the right noises. When everyone came home that weekend to celebrate my birthday she handed me a beautifully wrapped gift (her gifts are always beautifully wrapped and it often feels like vandalism to open them), as she did she looked me in the eye and said, "When I found this I honestly didn't know what was inside" -cryptic!

After dinner we all sat round and finally I opened her gift: it was an early copy of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens with all of Arthur Rackham's illustrations.

I LOVED it and thanked her profusely 'How? Where? You shouldn't have!', I cooed over it. She was still looking at me with an odd expression on her face. "Look inside the cover", she prompted, adding, "they said there was an inscription but, I didn't know what it was". Intrigued I turned to the front of the book. There, on the inside cover was a simple dedication. No date, no message, just two words: "For Charlotte." - It felt like magic and it turned out to be the start of plenty more.

  • Behind"Betwixt-&-Between"

"he passed under the bridge and came within full sight of the delectable Gardens" - Arthur Rackham

It was Spring 2014 when I first found out about J.M.Barrie's prequel, 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' and from the very beginning there was a sort of magic about it. It was my birthday and I had asked to visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where I had lived and worked happily in 2012 (and where we now live on our boat): The town, with it's connections to Shakespeare (a.k.a. The Boss) is special to me and I enjoyed the day visiting my favourite places. This included a visit to The Pickwick Gallery (sadly, now closed), which sold antique prints. I was drawn to an image that I recognised as being by the artist Arthur Rackham, who's illustrations of Shakespeare plays I already knew; it showed a baby in a boat (a nest with a shirt for a sail). The caption read, ' he passed under the bridge and came within full sight of the delectable Gardens - Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens'.

I just loved it and bought it, but did not recognise the image from the story I knew of Peter Pan, so I googled it - and there it was - a whole new story, based on J.M.Barrie's 1902 book, 'The Little White Bird', published as a Children's book in 1906 following the success of Peter Pan on stage. I had never heard of it - but I eagerly read the story, still with no idea at this stage where this little image would eventually lead me. When I got home I hung the picture in a conveniently empty frame above my bedroom door, the frame was painted with a message; 'Faith is the first step on the path to your destiny'. I never dreamt at the time that finding this story was going to be the first step on the path to mine.

  • Behind"Betwixt-&-Between"

Charlotte and Dan as Cinderella and Prince Charming, Easterbrook Hall Dumfries 2015

'I want to start a theatre company', I whined to Dan one evening in early 2016, 'will you help me register it when you get back?'. It had seemed a long, barren few weeks since my previous job (Cinderella at Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries) had ended and the traditional January drought was taking its toll but I had been inspired by the energetic and ambitious example set by those I had worked with on Cinderella at The Raging Gibbon Collective. My partner, Dan, was away working in Scotland, but had run businesses in the past and I hoped he could help me navigate the scary looking process of setting up a company without landing myself in jail. 'Of course', Dan replied, 'I've actually been meaning to register a company myself' - Dan's a doer (and a great example) so within a week Middle Realm Productions (his film production company) was formed. Dan had a concept for a film, his brand new company and a plan of action to produce within the year - I wanted to be making my own theatre work, but was less sure about what story I wanted to tell or know how I'd afford to make it - we're a good team so it made sense to get behind Dan's film and pool our energy and resources together. Very soon and we had begun working in earnest towards Middle Realm's first film (Ironheart). Spring arrived and auditions began to appear and I got one acting job, then another and soon there was a line of exciting projects, stretching into the new year. Between acting, helping with Middle Realm and real life my first calling to start a company of my own was simply pushed aside, for a while...

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