Winter

Winter can be a quiet time of year for us creatives, or it can be delightfully busy and I am very relieved to say I have managed to keep myself rather occupied over this winter!

 

Starting with a beautiful show in December, I had the pleasure of working with Hoodwink Theatre on 'A Winter's Trail' which was truly magical. A promenade performance in Salisbury Cathedral, after dark, following the winter memories of my character, Jean. The space was used so well, including starting out in the cloisters, where I got to swing on a swing hanging from a huge tree! The audience got involved in some classic winter memories doing arts and crafts as well as lying in the 'snow' and singing around the piano. It was just lovely and I wished it could run for three weeks, not three nights.

 

Following that I have had the honour of performing as Young Eva in 'And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the world of Anne Frank'. Eva Schloss' incredible story of survival through the holocaust is depicted in this multi-media play, including filmed interviews with her and another holocaust survivor, Ed Silverberg. It's been an emotional journey but one I've thoroughly enjoyed with a lovely cast of just 4.

 

So, as usual, who knows what the rest of the year holds.. but as spring boldly approaches I am very excited to find out! Watch this space.

 

The Jane Austen Festival

Living in Bath can put you in some weird and wonderful situations at times. The most marvellous Jane Austen Festival has to be one of those for me! Every year in the middle of September, Austen fans from all over the world join us in Bath for a week of promenading in Regency clothing and attending balls at the Assembly Rooms. It's fantastic!

 

Through the Natural Theatre Company, I had the pleasure of performing in TWO Jane Austen Festival events this year - Austen Undone (a walking tour) and Austen Dilemma (an improvised theatrical). 

 

Austen Undone told the untold, lost story of Jane's first novel written in Bath (not really, we made it up) and followed the story of twin girls, sent to Bath by their mother to stay with their Uncle SIr Elliot Pulteney who should find them each a suitable husband. As one of the twins, Henrietta Park, I had the pleasure of meeting the audience second and taking them on for 20 minutes as we discussed my part in the story - my family, my new feminist novel, love, sending letters (or not, in this case), and of course finishing off with a parasol duel with my twin having sent a drippy priest to go and declare his love for her! 

 

We had an incredible time performing and it was very busy - including 6 sell out performances on the first day! The show as a whole went on for about an hour and a quarter and a new one began every half an hour, so as soon as I was done with my duel it was back to the start to pick up the next tour! It worked brilliantly and had a good response. I loved performing and playing with comic timing, as every audience is different and responds slightly differently. Having the tour on my own for about half the time I was with them was quite daunting at first but I adored it once we got into the flow and I found my patter and manner in the character to freely perform.

 

Austen Dilemma was another absolute blast, the following weekend! We had a day to prepare ourselves and come up with a structural idea and bounce some ideas around in character. Not very long at all, really! But it was supposed to be improvised so we didn't want to exhaust all of our ideas in rehearsing! The idea of the show was that Jane Austen (who, herself, was present!!... in the form of Alison Campbell) had been asked to cut a character from her novel Pride & Prejudice as it was too long. The characters up for the chop were Mrs Bennett (Jill Myers), Mr Collins (Piers Wehner) and Lydia Bennett (played by myself, Katy Jane!). We each had to defend our case and take questions from the audience in doing so. It was great fun and I loved working with Piers and Jill in our characters as we bad-mouthed and defended each other along the way!

 

Lydia Bennett, of course, was voted out by the audience and I took it most personally! How utterly outrageous, the story is all about her and her success at finding a husband FIRST out of her 5 sisters!

 

Great fun was had by all and I was delighted to be involved with the festival, an iconic part of Bath's calendar. Thank you for having us, Jane Austen Festival.

 

 

Comedy shooting

Not actual shooting. Just film. 

 

I loved working with Platform Creative Media a couple of weeks ago, as a comedy waitress character in their promotional launch of Bombay Central in Harrow, which is an amazing place (yes we did get to eat the food and yes I was very happy and impressed)! Platform were so great to work with and I loved getting to know Ravi and his team, sharing some ideas of what could come next for Bombay Central's online profile. Looking forward to working together again, and to seeing the final products of our shoot!

 

We also had a great time in Cannes back in May, scoping out the festival a bit and seeing what it's all like while it's on. We were welcomed by the locals we stayed with and it was a great way to get to know the area as well as get excited for a potential future project to take one day. Would love to go again!!

 

 

I am the prize

Alright, sorry, calm down. There are no actual prizes up for grabs, I'm afraid. It's just the name of the latest comedy feature film I have had the pleasure of being involved with.

Isn't it great how things work out? I auditioned for a Christmas show at the end of last year and was, sadly, unsuccessful but a couple of months later I received an email inviting me to be involved with a film in Bristol, as I had been recommended by someone who had seen my audition for the Christmas show! Amazing. People can be so generous and thoughtful... You don't get enough of that these days, do you? 

Anyway, what a load of fun it was to be on set with some amazing people who are clearly all fantastic at what they do. I am so excited to see what the final footage looks like. My character has a few scenes, all with the leads, including date nights and chats in an office! It was great to be on location and also to meet more people in Bristol, doing awesome work!

So, it's already been a great start to 2016 with some fun roles and we have been on holiday to Morocco for a few days to catch a few rays and explore a new part of the world - it's a beautiful, special part of the world, too! I also have the pleasure of travelling to Venice in March to work on a three day party! Very exciting times - I love when I get to travel for work, and I've always wanted to go to Venice. 

2016 is looking pretty exciting, all round and I am on to updating my showreel this week so hoping to get that out to you as soon as possible! Of course, I anticipate it will need another update when I Am The Prize comes out! Keeps me on my toes, though.

Summer

Wow, it's been a long time and for that I apologise!

 

This summer has been fantastic. Starting with the pleasure and excitement that was Glastonbury Festival, I suppose it was destined to be an amazing summer! We had a lovely team of 4 women and performed 'Coneheads', 'National No Smiling Day Protest', 'Nudes' and 'Lost Brides'. I have to say I enjoyed all of the performances immensely and they seemed to be very well received. 'Lost Brides' is a personal new favourite of mine as I spent the entire time launching myself at various passers-by, treating them as family and guests at my wedding which was no longer happening 'You've come all this way and he hasn't even shown up' with one of the snottiest teariest faces I could muster. It was very silly and I love how many people join in and play the game - 'Pull yourself together' being one of my favourite quotes from an onlooker. Not to mention the singular piece of toilet roll I was given (it's precious stuff at these festivals!)

 

Larmer Tree was a similarly joyful occasion, a team of 3 women this time and some new performance pieces for me - 'Flowerpot Heads' and 'Pigeon Poo People' as well as doing 'Pinks' for the first time since I auditioned for the company! Trying new pieces does scare me a bit but once I got into it, I had a lot of fun!
 

 

I've also been working on a social media project in Calne (my little home town) for 6 days. We had a group of 6 or 7 young women, aged 13-15, and asked them to show us some things on their Facebook pages, inevitably a lot of body image 'hot mama bikini body' and success stories came up and we were led to talking about self worth over looks, fame and fortune. We challenged who was putting these articles out there and found some 'Hollywood Life' articles which is run by Bonnie Fuller (a 60 year old Canadian woman telling our young ladies how to live their lives to be deemed successful!). They got the message and we felt they were empowered to challenge the things they see on social and popular media. We ended up with helping them make a short film which looked at self worth and image within a school context. They were amazing and I hope it's something that will be funded again in the future.

 

I have also just had the pleasure of joining Broad Acting Management and look forward to the new prospects and opportunities the agency might hold for me. Feeling positive about the new beginnings that September holds. It is a time of new beginnings and new motivation after the stop/start nature of summer, so here's to a hopefully fantastic 2015/16!

 

 

 

What's On

So, I'm a big TV fan.. like, TV series. Not just couch potato TV time. In fact, we don't even have a TV so it's all watched out of specific choice!

I have been watching many things and recently finished The Good Wife. I watched it all through series 1 - 6 in probably much too short a time than can be admitted as it was addictive, amazing telly! I love Julianna Margulies and have even more love for Archie Panjabi. Well, her character, Kalinda at least! The show got better and better as it went on but there was some weirdness towards the end where it became a bit scrappy. I have heard that the finale scene (spoiler alert) with Alicia and Kalinda in the bar was done on split screen and they weren't actually together when they filmed it. I knew there was something weird about it when I watched it! I said to myself at the time, it felt like Kalinda was a figment of Alicia's imagination - like it was a dream sequence and it never really happened because there was no spark between them. Well, maybe it never did happen and the lack of chemistry is due to the fact they were playing against body doubles! Why would they do this? Do Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi not like each other? Is that why they didn't have them in scenes together for series after series, all their conversation was via phonecall and brief passings here and there, since series 3! What happened? Surely the whole Good Wife fanbase is curious about this?

Also, I started watching House (I know, only a million years too late!) a couple of days ago and have enjoyed the similar format of ongoing storyline intertwined with a different case each episode. I love hospital dramas! Hugh Laurie is great but it's a shame his character is so unlikeable, I wonder if that continues! A world of joy still awaits me as I have an 8 season stretch ahead of me with that one!

Arrested Development is another one I am very late to the party in starting but have enjoyed it as a downtime background series. As sitcoms go, it's not the greatest for me. The elements don't all come together so easily as something like Modern Family or Friends. I'm only on season 1 so I don't know how it will unfold but it's possible that I don't find it as funny as I don't relate to the family as easily as characters from other favourite sitcoms!

What else? Well, hubby and I have been enjoying old Sherlock episodes (are you seeing from this that Netflix is providing a backlog of all the things we ever missed!). We finished the first series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who are both AMAZING. I love their relationship, and Cumberbatch is just brilliant at the dry humour and being a bit of a snob! They are the perfect pair for this production - excellent casting.

Girls series 4 was a quick watch for me as well! I find that very easy to watch. I thought it was interesting how they managed taking Hannah away and bringing her back. It didn't feel too different to when she was still in New York (maybe she wasnt away for long enough). Sometimes when shows do that it just feels awkward and like the whole scenario and precedent to the show is on hold for some weird tangent of a storyline but I suppose it worked in this instance as we are on the journey with Hannah specifically (whereas in Friends, for example. when they change the circumstance of one, it upsets the whole group dynamic too much). The whole precedent of Girls is about her search for what she should do with her life and it makes sense, then, for her to go off to another state and try a whole new path and realise it was the wrong choice, and for us to follow her on that journey. I think it was well written that it went on for long enough that we got the whole process of her meeting new people, going from loving the idea of something new and moving forward and then the comedown of it not being all you expect and missing home. There was enough time for us to get to know the new characters (just about, although I think there were too many of them to get to know in her writing class) and go on the whole journey with her.

New series of Episodes is out as well! Great stuff. I did think it was all getting a bit too farfetched and the series was almost over before it began, for me. All the Pucks nonsense was carried on for no good reason, other than to bring them back to the US (but once they were there and had a new series deal coming up, did they have to carry on with Pucks!?). I found it all a bit frustrating and nothing really felt resolved but maybe that's all going to be made better in the next series (will there be one?).. I can't see it being any better with the crazy addition of the third writer jumping on the bandwagon with them! I do realise, I should point out, that a sitcom does need some drama and problem to overcome for it to work but this time it was all a bit too irritating for me - it was one thing after another going wrong and nothing really being resolved

Some great TV out there - never enough time to keep up with it all! I am ashamed to note how much of that is American vs British! AHH! What a shame. I haven't seen enough good drama coming up on iPlayer etc recently though. I completely missed Poldark (among other things I'm sure) and am already looking forward to the return of Call The Midwife...! Will it be back?

HOMES FOR BRITAIN

I currently have the pleasure of working for The Natural Theatre Company based in Bath. Last week we were involved with performing at the Homes For Britain rally in Central Hall, Westminster and I must say I had the greatest time!

We did three very different pieces, which is a brilliant way to spend the day. We performed as the Paparazzi first as all the attendees arrived, followed by doing a satirical protest as The British League of Pessimists and finally performing as the Chromatics who portrayed a colour for each party (Conservative, Labour, LibDem, Green, UKIP) and called for the parties to commit to ending the housing crisis in a generation. 

We had to do some quick changes and paint ourselves for the Chromatics but it was a joy because we had a captive audience for the day. Often when doing street theatre the audience are just passing by and they catch a moment of the performance but don't necessarily have a chance to take it in but this was a rare opportunity to be provocative and make a point over the course of the day. Those in attendance seemed excited about seeing us and found it entertaining and were also generally invested in the matter at hand, given that they were attending the rally! It was great fun and we even made the 6 o'clock news for all of about 3 seconds!

I loved being part of a big team (there were 5 of us, that's big these days!) and working with some of the old hands in the company and learning how they each work differently, watching them perform and taking in advice and suggestions from them all. It's such a unique opportunity for me to work within such a well-known and established company with some incredible actors and for it to be an ongoing opportunity - the more I work with them, the more I learn and as I grow in my performance and as a person, I am learning from some great people. What an absolute pleasure!

 

 

 

REBECCA (KNEEHIGH)

It took me far too long to realise that the wonderful Kneehigh Theatre were performing their adaptation of Rebecca at The Theatre Royal Bath last week. When I did finally get round to noticing their presence and hearing in passing some great comments about the show, I quickly got into the theatre to book a ticket! Of course, it was incredibly popular and I was left with standing room only tickets (which were incidentally very good!) and I managed to bring my mum along too, as she is very keen on good theatre and even more so on literature, so the title sold itself!

We were astounded from the first moment by the beautiful set and the opening with a body descending from the ceiling and a boat coming down after it. It just set the scene and tone for the play so wonderfully. Throughout, Kneehigh used some fantastic comedic moments to break the tension of quite a dark story and the character of Bea was truly my favourite at this. She was brash and practical and lifted scenes effortlessly.

The new Mrs de Winter is a very difficult role. She is in turmoil throughout the first act as she fights for attention and love and things can't stop going wrong for her but in the second half she has the pleasure of being in on the secrets and manipulation that underlies the whole plot. She was fantastic! I certainly believed her as the disappointed new wife vying for her husband's attention, trying not to say the wrong thing, and I enjoyed her tremendously as the partner in crime she became. 

Of course, you can't go to a Kneehigh production without immensely enjoying the onstage music which was a beautiful sailor-inspired score sometimes in conjunction with close harmony singing. It is so provocative to have music like that which sets the scene and tone for the piece. I love it! 

Overall, I was amazed and in awe of the wonderful Kneehigh and Emma Rice who adapted and directed this phenomenal show. I wanted nothing more, of course, than to be up there with them!

Devising and Storytelling with Alison Farina

On Monday evening, I had the pleasure of joining other creatives in Bath at a workshop with Butterfly Psyche's Alison Farina (see my earlier blog about the Bronte Season). This is with great thanks to Theatre Bath who are currently organising a series of workshops in our area to bring together creatives and create more opportunities for us to network and play together!

The workshop focussed on devising and storytelling, which is something I just love to do! From my training at University, I grew a passion for creating theatre in different ways. We often had the pleasure of devising and using creativity in acting to make new and interesting work and this is something that Alison does very well with her Bath-based company, Butterfly Psyche. I love getting new tips and tricks for ways to create work and you saw from my earlier post about The Paper Birds and their workshop as well as their show, Broke, how they do that. However, with Alison, we used other new ideas and it created less political but more child-like work.

We were equipped with three golden rules regarding SAYING YES to everything (very important when improvising and trying new things to just go with it and see where it takes you), LETTING GO OF YOUR EGO and WORKING TOGETHER. Some of these sound obvious and easy but it's actually easier than you think to forget these rules and try and force things to go your way and resist your colleagues BUT when you do let go and work together, far more interesting creative things happen! 

One exercise we did had us walking around in pairs as one 'being' and each only saying one word at a time, trying to make coherent sentences. It was hilarious! Just when you had an idea of how things would go, your partner would throw a spanner in the works and take it in a whole new direction. This forced you to be open-minded and not try to plan ahead. You had to just say the first thing that came to mind, listen to your other half and forget having any big ideas (because, although you're one being, your partner isn't actually a mind reader!) 

We finally ended up creating stories with minimal stimuli. We had each brought a personal object to incorporate in the story arc and were given two characters with a character trait each, a setting and an abstract sort of trigger or problem to start the story off (ie. Looking for a forbidden object). This opened up a lot of questions that needed to be answered through the story and began our journey of creating a performance of the story in just 20 minutes! We had to just take each other's ideas and run with them, work together with open minds and, most importantly, play! We had so much fun. It was just the beginning really and if we had had the pleasure of more time, we could have taken elements from the piece we created and moved it on to a whole other level, perhaps a new style and maybe another angle completely but to see how quickly we could create something was very exciting and inspiring. 

I love working with people in this creative way and having the chance to do something so different to script work (which I do also love, but is a world away from this!). It does inspire me to pick up where I left off at Uni and consider creating my own work but I just so love having the opportunity to work with so many different companies and styles and media that I think, for now, I'll continue my quest to work with as many different creative companies as I can! 

Broke

I had the pleasure of working with Jemma McDonnell from The Paper Birds in my final year of training. We devised a show under her direction and used it to audition for NSDF. 

This week, I heard The Paper Birds were performing at The Ustinov Studio in Bath and I was very excited to book my tickets and meet up with Jemma for a coffee and to catch up. As it happened, we couldn't manage a coffee date because Jemma and Kylie were doing a workshop at that time so they invited me along to that instead, which was an absolute joy!

The workshop took me back to my final year and the excitement of devising, writing and creating material with these wonderful women, and a room full of other creatives from my city! We played games and did exercises and wrote stories and got material from each other, creating characters and performance effortlessly. I just love their way of working and how it creates interesting and political material with such seeming ease. 

So, that evening I was very excited to see the show they had produced about what it really means to be 'broke' in our society today. The show focused mainly on 'Sally' who is a single mum trying to get by and pay her bills. The use of story books and childrens' toys was a wonderful theme that highlighted the political game being played with the country's money. Sally is the everywoman, in many ways. I'm sure we could all relate to her want to just buy food and not worry about each penny or being invited to do something and not being able to say 'no, I can't afford it'.

Featuring Jemma and Kylie as well as their longstanding composer, Shane, who took the stage alongside them, this show was an incredibly enjoyable watch. The use of verbatim and personal stories made it real and heart-wrenching and the use of sock puppets and the voice of a young boy who would spend all his money on 'chocolate bars that make you fly' made us laugh out loud. The reality of sleepless nights worrying about debt and spending alongside the pain experienced by the protagonist was beautifully executed and without each other the highs and the lows of this show wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

Fantastic work, once again, from The Paper Birds.

 

Gone Girl

I had the pleasure of going to The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath, with my lovely husband James to see Gone Girl, which was fantastic!!

Directed by the wonderful David Fincher (Fight ClubThe Social NetworkHouse of Cards), this film boasted wonderful character portrayal and development as well as being beautifully shot and edited. It was long but didn't feel it, which is always a good thing.. nothing worse than a marathon of a film that feels dragged out.

The script was written by the author of the original book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but as I haven't read it I can't comment on the two in comparison! I'm sure it stayed true to the essence of the novel, though, being adapted by its own author. It was very well done and the twist/reveal halfway through the film was well-executed and the way the script fluidly skipped between different days and stories was easy to follow but still left the audience guessing throughout, which is always enjoyable when you don't know the story already!

Rosamund Pike was completely brilliant, in the title role of the 'Gone Girl', Amy Elliot Dunne. Her sense of character and balance for the correct level of play was beautifully executed. She is strong and real and plays the twisted character in a way that the audience still relates to her and is intrigued, not hating her character but not liking her particularly either. She is watchable and enchanting and her onscreen relationships are deep, believable and have a real spark. Some people could play a messed up woman in a wooden and uninteresting or non-relatable way but her character development over such a long film and time period covered in the script is a real skill, when you think about how films are made - she may have filmed scenes in succession that are days, weeks, months, years apart in the final edit of the film which requires a great level of work and character understanding and research as well as concentration and skill, of course. She's a talented lady and I was certainly envious of the role! 

The role of Nick Dunne played by Ben Affleck, was also brilliantly executed. The audience is questioning his position in the story for some time and he does the role justice and builds great relationships and genuine thoughts and feelings for the audience to analyse. Since his success in Good Will Hunting, Affleck seemed to end up in too many romcoms and not be using his talent to it's full potential but I believe that, much like Matthew McConaughey, he was type cast for a while and has hopefully come out the other side and will be in many more exciting and thrilling films like Gone Girl, because he was great.

I listen to the music in films a lot more than I ever did, since I married James. Because we talk about music and scores for different things and I hear his new ideas and work and ask him questions about theory of music and what he thinks of different things, it is much more at the forefront of my mind now. However, I am far from being an expert! I thought the music in Gone Girl was really great.. it really fitted and enhanced the film, which is exactly what you want from a film score. You almost want it to go unnoticed at times, because it's supposed to enhance your viewing experience and fit in with the emotion and journey of the film. So, inevitably and probably quite unlike my husband, I didn't listen to the whole score because I am more driven by the characters and story and acting when watching films, but I loved the use of it at certain times that did remind me The Social Network (same composers - Trent Reznor in collaboration with Atticus Ross) and indeed Inception (another favourite of mine) during suspense and dramatic moments. Brilliantly done.

 

 

 

Bronte Season

As an actress in Bath, I endeavour to soak up some of my local theatre and art so I recently saw some of the Bronte Season as produced by Live Wire Theatre and Butterfly Psyche (both based in Bath) at The Rondo Theatre.

I was able to see Wuthering Heights with my mother and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with my husband, James. They were both two-handers and involved a lot of multi-rolling for the actors involved which, I know from experience, is a mighty task to take on! I'm sure rehearsals were an Everest at points and that's not even to mention the incredible and lengthy scripts they had to wrestle with. They all did fantastically!

Firstly, let me speak about Wuthering Heights which was a bit of a marathon.. My mum is an English teacher and knows the book well so she was keen to see if they would finish half way through the story, as many adaptations do, before young Catherine is introduced, but no! This time they soldiered on through and made it to the end- even adding in a last moment between the two characters after the last line of the book was spoken! Perhaps that was too far, for some people. I felt, however, that this script-heavy adaptation could have done with a bit more of showing the audience than telling us. This was hard at times with the theatre space and the nature of the story and I felt the actors did a great job switching between characters and accents. 

I found it hard to tune into and believe the northern accent of Nelly Dean who didn't have a hard 'a' (i.e. glass, after etc), especially as she was telling so much of the story but she was a loveable and well-rounded character portrayal in every other respect, which helped!

The characters had chemistry and worked well together, they were brave and bold which could have been difficult in such a small theatre as The Rondo! The script was incredible, complicated and lengthy and even involved some talking to themselves which was difficult to get used to at first but once the audience was on board with the style, they were transfixed.

Watching The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a few days later, I was surprised by how different it was! The adaptation was well-written (by Alison Farina) and was very clear and concise. Perhaps the story itself isn't such a marathon as Wuthering Heights is, to begin with? I didn't know anything about it but had heard about it's feminist and alcohol-based themes in parts so I was excited to see how it was done.

The set was well-used and beautifully simple. At times, it was an extension of the actors and action and they were comfortable and precise with it. This made for a lovely image at times and helped the audience to see what the characters were doing and relate to them, rather than simply hearing about it later on and not having such an interest or care.

Being another two-hander, there was a lot of multi-rolling but this was directed in a much more stylised fashion by Shane Morgan, whose work we had also seen in Henry Walker and the Wheel of Death, featuring the two actors we saw in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! The different characters were instantly recognisable by their stance, manner and facial expression before they even spoke so I felt this was brilliantly executed by Madelaine Rayner and Tom Turner who were funny, real, charming and had wonderful chemistry.

I was sad to miss Jane Eyre but if you are further afield and would like to catch The Bronte Season they are touring until 1st November! Follow @btterflypsyche on Twitter for all the update news on their productions!

 

 

Welcome!

Hello and thank you for visiting my site and my first ever blog post on said site. Very exciting times for me.

I decided to create a website to further my online presence as an actor, voiceover artist, human, television and film enthusiast, creative... I have a web presence on certain casting sites such as Spotlight and Casting Call Pro and I use Twitter but have never done much blogging or run a website so this all new... Therefore, please bear with!

I will use this space to write about things I have been up to, things I have seen and might like to review or comment on, what I am watching at the moment (usually lots of things..), among other things I'm sure!

So, I'm currently working on my website, have just completed my showreel and got new headshots (see front page!). I am working towards another voicereel to portray some character voices and accents as I love working behind the microphone in my little home set-up! So keep a lookout for that on my voice page!

Thanks for coming and joining me in the interweb world! See you soon...