It’s beautiful out there today. I hopped on a bus into town by myself at 10am for a few hours. It’s rare that I get any time truly alone so I really appreciate it. I had the La La Land soundtrack on full blast in my headphones and rested my head against the window of the bus, just soaking in the warmth of the sunshine. Big musical numbers like the one I’ve linked choke me up. The song can be as exuberant and joyful as they come, about nothing more than a sunny day and young love and I will still have to blink back the tears. Something about a perfectly timed chorus of voices fills me with euphoria. Which in turn makes me ache for the stage. *blink blink*
(My first lead role – Cinderella, 1988)
I’d been in a few plays before Cinderella but this was the moment that sticks with me. We’d been doing a different play and our teacher got sick. Our headmaster had to take our class for a few weeks and decided to change whatever show we had been planning to Cinderella. I distinctly remember him calling out my name for the lead role. I squealed. Another girl mocked me, stealing my thunder and making others laugh at me. I think that’s the first time I recall feeling shame for something good happening to me. I learnt then to hold back my joy.
I memorised my lines over the weekend and got praised for doing so. Again, something that girl teased me about. I know now it was jealousy. The following year we did Peter Pan. She got the lead role and lorded it over me. I was Wendy and perfectly happy with that part. I feel like she only got the part because she had short hair anyway. 😉
Acting, even in primary school productions at 10/11yrs old felt like magic to me. It was the best feeling in the world. It came to me just at the right time. My parents split when I was 8 and I was so sad and lost inside. Acting was my outlet.
I joined the Mid-Powys Youth Theatre at 12. You were supposed to be 14 but I lied about my age. I was the same height and build at that age as I am now so it wasn’t impossible to believe. I don’t know what kind of person I would be if I hadn’t has MPYT throughout my teenage years. It’s still the happiest time of my life. I was so committed, so dedicated to it. My first few years I had smaller roles than I wanted but I was young and new so that was to be expected. I envied the older girls so intensely. I wanted to prove myself. I wanted it to take up more of my time. I wanted to be there 24 hours a day. I had found my people, my tribe and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere.
I soon got larger roles. I have goosebumps now just remembering the thrill of it all. Our company was award-winning. We performed at the National Theatre in London twice. We even did a tour and film of one smaller show. I fit it all in around my schoolwork.
I was involved in 8 shows in my 6 years with MPYT. All I wanted to do was be on stage when I left school. I auditioned for several drama schools in the UK. I got call backs for Bristol Old Vic and The Central School of Speech and Drama. Eventually I only got in to CSSD. It was a massive learning experience. There were people on my course who had been auditioning for 10+years. We ranged in age from 18 (me) to 45. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a tiny, tiny minnow. They all seemed to want it so much. I got homesick fast. Going from my small Welsh village to London was a culture shock. I missed being a big fish. I felt inferior and lost all my confidence. I was home within 3 months. I talked myself out of going back. CSSD even offered me a place the following year which looking back was a big deal. Thousands of people audition for approx 30 places. I didn’t realise how privileged I was. I didn’t tell anyone they had kept my place for the following year. I didn’t want anyone to know. I had no intention of going back. I disappointed so many people. I had such an opportunity and to others it looked like I let it slip from my hands without a care.
I cared. I was so disappointed in myself too, I just hid it. I convinced people I’d hated it. I was too ashamed to admit that it scared me. That I couldn’t handle being so far removed from my comfort zone.
I haven’t stepped on a stage since.
I always said that I wanted to be an actor or a mother. Or both. I would have always chosen being a mother over acting. I desperately wanted to have baby from an absurdly young age and was a mother by the time I was 20.
Whenever I go to the theatre now, I get emotional. As soon as the lights dim I feel like my heart is going to explode. I miss the camaraderie backstage. I feeling excellent at something. I will never be as good at anything as I was at acting. I still fantasize about going back to it. After I had Sonny, I put that notion to bed. It was unrealistic. I talked myself down once again.
I have thought about trying to learn some monologues. Just for the hell of it, to see how bad my memory is these days. I used to be able to learn lines so fast. Before multiple pregnancies and a truck load of substances addled my brain. It feels like it might be something good to practise. I feel like it could be a meditative exercise. Another tool to help with anxiety and distracting myself from intrusive thoughts.
It’s hard to feel at peace over unrealised dreams, isn’t it? I am eternally grateful to have to have those experiences at all. I just wish I hadn’t been so scared. I don’t regret having my children but I will always wonder what I’d be doing now if I’d had a little more faith in myself. If I’d been braver. Maybe supported a bit more by my family.
I think I will try and learn a monolouge. Maybe show it to Rob. Or if I’m brave enough, film myself and show you guys.