Sunday, 11 December 2016

Reflections of 2016

So at this time of year it’s good to look back see what we have achieved, what worked, what we could have done better and what we have learned. Well for me this year has been a hectic one with some real highlights and lots and lots of learning.

I started off the year only having done 3 months of acting classes but I must have learned enough to go for my first assessment because there I was by the end of January going for it. I learned a 2-3 min monologue of Miss Trunchbull, from the musical Matilda and later in Feb the other part was a day filming. Feb was not only assessment filming day but my first proper audition for a TV pilot, called Swords of Scavelia; this was to become the start of something very special but more on that later. I also did my first lot of filming – a couple of student films. March was a hive of activity with auditions, more short films and networking nights. I got to do my showreel and assessment film too, plus I started the Northern Star Acting 4 week programme and had the first rehearsal for Scavelia; I’d been given the part of Chancellor Magatha (later getting an upgrade to Queen Magatha). As well as doing all the things to do with acting, I was also helping on the committee organising a huge event in my local village, ready for the Tour De Yorkshire; Northern Star Acting were hosting Sherburn’s Got Talent so I was attending meetings and helping get the acts together. The end of March saw me attending my very first film premier. It was for My Jewish Auntie – I’d played an office worker.

April found me doing some more filming & attending, alone, a networking night with the Leeds Indie Filmmakers group and having an audition to join their list of actors. I was also to have an audition for my first stage production – The Deformed Transformed, which just happened to be the last, unfinished, play by my great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather, Lord Byron so I was extremely excited to be offered the parts of Bertha & Philibert. We only had 2 rehearsals as this was to be an on-script piece, something I felt happier about but still nerve wracking all the same. I needn’t have worried because it went well. Then on the 27th was an audition for a production that was definitely going to be one of the highlights of the year – Barnbow Canaries. It was for the community chorus but seeing as my great grandmother and several great aunts were Barnbow Canaries during WW1 then this play held a very special meaning to me. The end of April was the Tour De Yorkshire day and the committee had done Sherburn proud and that was proved with an attendance of over 8000 people.

May was more auditions, costume fitting, the start of rehearsals & an outside broadcast with Radio Leeds for Canaries. I also got my headshots done and filmed another short film, this time for the Leeds Indie Filmmakers group. June was basically more and more rehearsals, interviews & 16th June was the opening night of Canaries – me on stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds! All in all I did 18 performances and would have happily done more. 
Non-acting related highlight was the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers conference in Birmingham. The start of July saw the end of Canaries and I was so sad to leave it behind, everyone wanted to take it on tour but it just wasn’t possible due to various reasons. I had a great day with my jewellery business at Pontefract Liquorice Festival; one of the few craft events I did this year. Also did more filming and because we all missed each other, two weeks after the end of Canaries we had a reunion. This happened to cause a chance meeting with a local councillor, who invited us to attend the Crossgates Christmas lights switch on in Dec. 23rd of July was the Northern Star Acting awards night and what a night that turned out to be! Not only had I passed my assessment with a distinction but unknown to me I had been chosen by the academy as Actor of the Year 2016. I couldn’t believe it – I’d only been acting for less than a year. How could I be better than some who had been acting for years? I was so proud of what I’d achieved in such a short amount of time. 
The end of July was my first presenting role for an educational video all about the mill industry and the railways – 2 subjects I knew nothing about.

1st August was my very first audition for Nicci Topping, in Manchester and I was very nervous. I didn’t get the role I auditioned for but did get another non-speaking role so I was really happy that I’d shown her what I was capable of doing. By now it was time for a holiday so a camping trip to Norfolk with the family was booked. Coming back refreshed to another audition – this time for a play. My first speaking role on stage! I was to play a 70yr old lady in a production called Feet, First Class. More auditions followed too. In September, I did more filming, including being part of the feature film 2 Mile Under, joined a local contemporary choir - Harmonize, had more auditions, did a directors’ workshop with Daniel Coll and started rehearsals for the play. Oh and how could I forget to mention the Northern Star Acting actor’s bootcamp in Wales? What a weekend that was – mind-set, positivity, great people and filming with Laurence R Harvey.

October was the start of rehearsals & production of Wizard of Oz, filming a short film, at my house, with clowns (something I hate), more rehearsals for Feet, my first night shoot with the very talented Lynn Lowry and I had my first role as producer – helping the other tribe members with their showreels. I also went to my first acting conference, Surviving Actors, with Eirian and had the first read through for Scavelia. I got my first paid role for Nicci Topping – Real Gods Require Blood.
November 4th was the performance of Feet, First Class and I was very nervous but we all did a great job and the audience loved it. 11th Nov was the Crossgates Christmas lights switch on and the Barnbow Canaries had been specially invited by Councillor Graham & the Lord Mayor of Leeds. There was another read through for Scavelia and more choir practices. I had another theatre audition and took part in a performance art event as part of the Compass Festival, at Trinity centre, Leeds. The end of Nov and I was doing more filming – this time I was the victim of being hit by a car, cue lots of fake blood and stunts.

And so to the end of the year and what a way to start the end of it – filming Swords of Scavelia at Fetherstone Castle. What an amazing experience and such a great bunch of people. Then it was literally straight onto the Barnbow Memorial – 5th Dec 1916 saw the night of the explosion, killing 35 (mainly women) and injury so many more. We were to sing at the memorial and then go and meet the Lord Mayor, Gerry Harper. We spent over 2 hours with him in the Civic listening to stories of his childhood and information about the civic etc. truly fascinating. I’m not sure how the year will end – parties and celebrations with wonderful friends and family probably but it’s been an amazing year and I can’t wait for 2017! 😃

 Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2017