A Substitute for Life and Lucid

The RADA Festival takes place each year in the summer term there are many productions to see and workshops to attend as well as art installations it has been fantastic to see so much going on.

I only had time to catch a couple of productions.

The first was Simon Brett’s play A Substitute for Life performed in the Gielgud studio theatre at RADA was quite an intense hour.  The Second was Lucid by New Public which was a physical theatre performance and I hadn’t been to one in such a long time.

In A Substitute for Life Tim Hardy played Francis Kenworthy a man we are introduced to and who through that hour offers us a portrait of a man who has arrived at this point in his life and reveals his story incrementally throughout the performance.

Hardy’s performance is compelling.  The piece itself is  and Hardy is confined to his desk for much of the performance. Hemming him in and concentrating his performance from the waist up. The character of Francis is brought vividly to life with a stammer and a love of literature or at least that is how we are introduced.  He narrates his own history and does so assuming some characters who had the most impact on his life.

The play is a tantalising slow reveal of a man who has suffered at the hands of all of the adults in his life and ill equipped for adulthood.

The tension in his play is based on the contract between the protagonist and the audience, who are in essence hearing a confession and as each new piece of information is revealed the relationship between audience and actor evolves. It was an in-depth character study wonderfully rendered.

Lucid on the other hand was incredible.  An ensemble piece about what happens when you dream. An hour full of vignettes which take you through nightmares as well as those amazing dreams where everything goes right. A devised piece that moves through several forms, mime, dance, karaoke, dance, combat a riot of recorded sounds and music soundtrack the impeccably choreographed moves.  From rage and despair to euphoria and every beat in-between.  

Glorious, clever and very funny.

Lucid moved me in ways I didn’t expect. If you get the chance to see its well worth your time.

A Substitute for Life is will be playing at the Edinburgh Festival

More info on New Public


Ham4hanI am beyond excited. This evening I am headed to Victoria to see Hamilton at the Victoria Palace.

I completely fell in love with the sound track when it came out and I’ve listened to it on repeat for months. In fact listening to Hamilton got me through some very tough projects when I worked in a school. Ugly crying at my desk as I listened to act two. It sounds depressing but it worked.

Tonight I will go to the room where it happens and with any like the cast will blow us all away.

I fully expect to sob through act 2.

Bring it.

I’m back…

IMG_7101I’ve been missing in action somewhat.  There has been rather a lot of life since I last committed blog. In my last post I was packing up the old house in Wrexham psyching myself up for the move and all that would bring.

After that post I went and lived with my parents for a fortnight before joining my partner in south east London.  I’m  well settled into the new job having survived something that was really intense.  Its a busy job which I love but I’ve survived it at its worst I am going to be fine next year.

The downside is that it really did eat my brains for six months.  But then I have a bit of a record when it comes to joining intense jobs.  Moving away from having a very hands on manager who scheduled my entire week.  The management here is very different and its quite freeing even if my confidence took a heck of a beating as the work has been immense.

And now the dust has settled and I have time to reflect. Firstly I did it. No small achievement taking over something mid cycle and despite a few close calls I did not crash the process and indeed as the memories of the stress fades, I can state that yes I love this job.

The next part is proving interesting though.  I have plenty still to do but my brain isn’t quite so saturated and I have enough processing power to start thinking about how I can make my life more varied again and get used to writing things again.

I’ve been reviewing books for a while and yes – I must get back into that because I do find it a useful thing to do. Especially since I have a lot more time to devote to writing. The other thing I’m going to start doing is writing about the theatre I see because I get to see a lot of productions these days and I have the urge to document my response to things.  I don’t want to review but I do want to talk about what I’ve seen and how they have effected me.

So that is the plan in a nutshell.  Write more, read more review more. Talk about everything.

I’m also getting back into running which fell off completely after the move.  I hope you’d like to join me on my journey into all sorts of shenanigans.

Where are we now?

I am sitting in a half empty shell of a home at the threshold of a new year with a sense of wonder as to how everything changed in the last 12 months. I have learned such a lot and have done so much that I didn’t even know I was capable of.  

I am struggling to put anything into words, I am typing and deleting constantly to try and find the expression to sum up the seismic changes my life is going through. So yes, let’s start with the small things. I have quietly been taking back control of me. I have made my body be more active and I have seen some exciting results.  I have learnt to run and have run 5km a few times.  Other stuff has got in the way the past month and a half but I did it and now that I know I can it will be much easier to do it again and again and better myself. Continue reading

How Not to Run

I am a fat person.  I have been fat for as long as I can remember. There are pictures of me as a child that I can objectively say no I wasn’t fat but I was still considered overweight. I’m fairly sure lots of issues I have are all bound up in this. I also have a terrible relationship with food and that is something that has just always been the case. It has been with some trepidation at the age of 38 and at about twice the NHS recommended weight I decided that this realistically is my last big chance to do something.

I work in a school and I was lucky enough to be able to go on a trip to Reykjavik.  Whilst there we did a tonne of waking and fro the first time I really noticed that I struggled.  I hated that I wasn’t able to keep up and the tiredness that accompanied it.  I felt that I really had to do something.

Phase one was just going to the gym.  And I’ve been attending classes and doing cardio and I have been getting fitter and the weight has started to move.  One thing I found motivating whilst doing this was Zombies! Run.  I’ve completed the first season while walking but at the end of season one there are some longer distance missions and I thought it would take me forever to walk 20km so I decided that I needed to learn how to run and this is where the journey started.

I am following the Zombies! Run Couch to 5k plan because it works for me. I love the gentle encouragement, alongside the mild peril that the missions bring.  They give me a purpose to be doing this and I want to see it through.

I have reached week 7 in the eight week plan and I started on 24th July so I’m nine weeks in on my eight week plan and you know what I am more than okay with that. There have been a few sessions I have felt the need to run twice and I repeated week six in its entirety and I want to take stock of how I have got here.  Firstly there are days when I have to work hard to get out of the house because of the Fear. The Fear is that insidious voice that tries to persuade me to stay home because people will laugh at me. I’m a realist I have gotten abuse on the street so there has to be negotiation for me to get into the gym in the first place. I create my own zone to run in. I have my noise cancelling ear buds and I listen to cheesy eighties pop and that is my safe space no one can get to me in there.

I have learned to take it one session at a time.  I don’t look ahead because everything because insurmountable.  My running sessions are a practical lesson in mindfulness.  I am aware of every step I take and every inhalation/exhalation. I am the living embodiment of the Sting song. Being so rooted in what I am doing forces out any thoughts of work or other threats. I am fighting to keep on running to not give in and not die. You’d better believe that there is no small amount of pain involved and there are days when I feel that I can’t possibly get to the point where I can just run 5k.

That’s my goal though to run 5k and my last session was week 7 session two and I really was not feeling it.  I’ve had a rubbish couple of days at work where I’ve had some difficult and grown up decisions to make. I had some gentle encouragement from the boy and I went anyway.

Week 7 is tough.  It starts gently enough with a 10 minute brisk walk to lull you into false sense of security and then a 5 minute free form run all good. Next comes the run/skipping drills so I run for a minute and skip for 15 seconds and this is the killer after completing 5 reps of the drill I went into a second 5 minute free form run.  I had to give in at this point and walk for a minute near the start of that second 5 minute run because I was feeling it was too much but for the but one minute out of 17 running or skipping I felt that was still worth celebrating.  I also managed the following two free runs of 5 minutes.  This was my second session that followed the pattern and on the first attempt I was all over the place I couldn’t cope and I walked a lot more.The improvement between the sessions was incredible.  My goal for next time is to not have to walk at all after the skipping drills but we’ll see.

This feels like such a victory for me. I’ve learned some hard lessons particular in week 6 when I finally learnt how to pace myself to ensure I could finish strongly when I needed to. I have come such a long way from literally struggling to run for 60 seconds to being able to run for 5, 7, 10 minutes without dying.  On paper I have four sessions left and I still can’t see me actually managing to run 5k without stopping but maybe, just maybe I’m beginning to believe that I can.