In which I tread the boards again after 20+ years

When I was young and single and looking for ways to make new friends in the intimidating and unfriendly-by-reputation deep south, I decided that amateur dramatics was the way to go. I joined the Worthy Players, who were a very friendly and welcoming bunch. I started by doing props for “A Month of Sundays” (it’s harder than you’d think to replicate a pot of tea *safely* and *convincingly* on stage), and then switched between backstage roles and on-stage roles in “SS Farndale Avenue” and “One for the Road” (my name was different then, but you can see the evidence by checking out the previous shows page of their website and scrolling all the way down to 1994/95 – look for Jude Hayes) – and, it turns out, “Humpty Dumpty”, which I’d completely forgotten about… I really enjoyed it, but in the summer of 1995 I moved up to London. My job in London was such that I couldn’t guarantee being in rehearsals (you’d be surprised what crises pop up on Europe-wide car rental applications, and how often it requires you to “stay until it’s done”) and also, London is well known for being full of Proper Actors and I was so intimidated by that idea that I just didn’t investigate the am-dram-wanna-be-not-am scene.

There are days when I really regret that.

So: I got married, had children and couldn’t guarantee being at rehearsals for a whole host of other reasons – in truth, I felt like my family ought to come first. However, they are now old enough that they can be left alone for huge swathes of the day, so I’ve launched back in.

While sight-seeing in Liverpool last year I saw an A-board outside the masonic hall on Hope Street advertising acting classes for adults. And so I signed up (with MAD). Just over a year later, having done 3 terms of classes with them, I signed up for the summer performance “course”, which culminates in a production in a proper theatre.

me as a theatre nurse

I was cast in “Tiger Country” by Nina Raine as “Lakshmi” (renamed to “Laura”), a middle-aged theatre nurse. Clearly acting middle-aged was a stretch, but having worked in a clinical research facility, I’m practically a nurse already anyway… The play is set between Surgery and A&E in a large hospital, and shows the pressures on the NHS through the lives of the people working in it.

rehearsing the trauma scene

Here (below) you can see us performing a testicle removal on Cyril, using barbecue tongs as retainers (we dropped that after the level of guffawing from the audience as they are clearly not a self-retainer, which is what was asked for in the preceding line…). Please note the attractive headgear, and how my hair is *nearly* tucked in!

Posted by Merseyside Academy of Drama – MAD on Saturday, 9 September 2017

Photo from the dress rehearsal, taken by the very talented

The next one shows my awesome acting chops – I was having to pretend to be really pissed off with Lisa (“Vanessa”) here, which was hard because I really like her. I channelled the feeling I had when a particular manager in my past was berating me for some reason or other that was most definitely not my fault.

Posted by Merseyside Academy of Drama – MAD on Saturday, 9 September 2017

Photo from the dress rehearsal, taken by the very talented

The performances felt like they went really well, and the last one was pretty much a sell-out, which really helped with the atmosphere. I liked the challenge of working in the round, enjoyed the rehearsals and being part of a company, and bringing these characters to life. I also got a reputation for being organised as I wanted to make sure my props were all sorted – Lisa is now convinced I should be pursuing a career in stage management.

script and memorabilia

In conclusion, I’m loving it, looking for ways to do more, and wish I’d got my arse in gear to do it years ago… so, watch this space, folks!