It’s been some time since I’ve written on my own website. Things have been so busy promoting the show that I’ve had no time to stop and reflect on all that’s happened over the last year. And quite a bit has. Good and bad. As with many things in life, this story started with a loss, albeit a small one, a tiny vocal chord that ceased to work for some time, but still, its significance to me was huge. How it turned my world upside down and knocked my confidence some of you will know now, having seen the show and how running offered me a respite and way of healing out of that silence.
I shared on stage, a period of time in my life, probably in the most honest, exposing way I have ever shared anything to over 650 people over three weeks. Crazy? certainly. Terrifying? Almost definitely ( I spent the first week before going on stage getting so angry with myself for putting myself in such a scary position. I felt sick, stomach rumbling, heart racing – a bit like before the marathon ‘Why Loo?? Why? Who’s stupid decision was it to go on stage in cheap Primark Lycra, with no make – up on and tell people about how you felt you were disappearing?’ I felt like I was hurtling dangerously towards something I could no longer control and whatever happened from this point on, there would be a ‘truth’ out there, a story shared in all its brutal glory. But of course acting is another muscle. Even if it’s been in the quieter regions of TV and film, its ready to burst, under the surface…..and then…. there descends a calm. A moment of sheer exhilaration. Of knowing you’re on stage again. You’re using your voice, hearing laughter, hearing the odd sniff. You’re doing what you’ve always loved doing. It’s just that you haven’t had the opportunity to do it enough.
It’s so hard at times to feel that you’re achieving your aims as a performer in this business, that you’re being heard. There was a huge element of risk attached to me sharing my story in such a public way. Who would want to hear it? Could they hear it? Would my voice last? Would it be considered self- indulgent…narcissistic? What if no- one comes?
And in a true archetypal Hollywood style five days before I opened the show, just when you think the hero is about to save the day, there’s that damn second inciting incident in the story – line. My agent gives me the red card. Nice. It was coming. We both knew. Just that neither of had packed the suitcase and left…in fact I was still going up for jobs and getting them and paying commission but they thought they’d made it clear that things weren’t working out. Ah, I’ve been here before in relationships – I thought we were ‘on a break’ but to them it was over some time ago.Confusing. Yes. Like a marriage? After twenty two years, yes. Disappointing? Very. There are times when you really need to be represented and this was one of them. But this is a ‘business’ after all. A contract. And do we really want to be aligned to someone who is no longer interested in us? Or hasn’t been for a long time. And like relationships, there will be others. Just a shame they couldn’t share such an important moment for me and some of the amazing responses. Third inciting incident, I get a cold straight after this and it’s doubtful if I’ll be well enough to do the first show. I drink gallons of lemon and honey …all seems lost, I’m now metaphorically and physically getting everything ‘off my chest’ ….but thankfully, the story line lifts to its positive conclusion and I’m there, doing it, looking a bit pale, but sheer adrenaline gets me through and it goes well.
Press night picture in the Stage. (The lemon and honey worked..and sheer fear)
I have absolutely loved working on Can you hear me running? Rehearsals were exciting and knackering. The whole team worked so hard on it and it was far from being a ‘One woman show’. Jo Harper’s fantastic script, Dan’s beautiful music and score ( and tolerance of me behaving like a crazed woman with my bizarre repetitive back stage routines) , Steve G’s tender direction encouraging me all the time to just be honest and ‘tell the story’, Steve Kirkham’s amazing movement direction bringing so many unresolved physical parts of the play to life, Adrian’s Gee’s brilliant set, Eva Auster’s clever projection complimented by Tom Turner’s lighting, Tamar Saphra’s help running through the play with me when Steve was unavailable and generating more ideas and of course Sophie Johnson, our amazing stage manager who held it all together as brilliant stage managers do when anything goes wrong, with whom you feel safe, and that no stone is unturned…a good one makes you feel like everything will be ok even if the roof caves in. I’m proud of myself with what I’ve achieved but I’m also very proud of everyone involved.
Left to right: Steve Grihault, Adrian Gee, Tom Turner, me, Dan Glover, Sophie Thompson,Tamar Saphra, Jo Harper, Eva Auster.
All Photos Graham Saville.
Can you hear me running? team.
I still can’t believe that the very defect that paused me from being on stage for a while and left me feeling invisible has now led me back onto it making such noise and being so visible. That and of course putting on a pair of running shows one cold autumn morning. One of the best things about doing the show? I saw so many people I haven’t seen for ages. I joked with a few of them that we needed to catch up and then realized that we had by me telling the story on stage. Many were moved by the show, had no idea that my vocal issues had such a profound affect on me. There was a lot of shame attached to how I felt at the time as I didn’t feel justified in complaining about it. It was only a loss of voice – I wasn’t ill, but inside I felt like I was slowly evaporating. The running kept my feet on the ground. Somehow, this way ironically performing an intensive vocally challenging show, alone on stage seemed the right way to express it. Suddenly, its a story, hopefully that had a universal theme and not just another thing that happened to a forty something. We had time to develop it over two years and really think about how this would reach a wide audience. I felt very grateful to all who came. Very touched that people came to support. Thank you..and for the people who couldn’t but offered words of encouragement and shared posts. The other great thing about being back on stage? You can be anywhere ( even if it is back in your own youth running up Moel famau) and be anyone ( even if it’s your old self) because sometimes life gets ugly and you see some bloody awful things, and you really really want to be somewhere else and we all need to see something else don’t we? And pretend? An imagine? By disappearing into the play I’ve made myself appear again. I just told a story, that’s all. One that I happened to be in. I hope I get to run it again because having had a rest in Wales…I’ve stoked a fire and loved making a bit of noise, SO glad I took the leap. So glad I took a risk. So glad I made myself scared when I felt like running a mile! Till the next run………