The Vagina Monologues

On 2nd March 2017, at Hamilton House in Bristol, the doors opened to the public at 7pm, ready for the ‘Screening: The Vagina Monologues’.

The Vagina Monologues were written by Eve Ensler, a writer who was – and still is – obsessed with vagina’s. Each year she publishes a new monologue, but still constantly conducts interviews with multitudes of women gaining various views on vagina’s.

I was asked by Ellen Counsell – a connection I made during my time at FEAR – to be a part of her project. Myself and 10 other women performed at least one of the monologues in front of a set cameras, allowing the project to be fashioned for the screen.

The monologue I was given was ‘The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could’; a powerful monologue dictating a young girl’s life through memories from the age of 5 and 16, explaining events that occurred to her such as injury, rape, and a politically incorrect salvation. It was a text that I was in no way used to reading, let alone performing, making the entire experience an eye opening one at the least, especially with acting for the screen being a new step in my performing history also.

The event was created to raise awareness and money for the charity ‘Wish’, which supports those who have been victims of rape and abuse.

The overall reception was small but well received, causing me to be quite emotional by the end of the screening. It was such a daring, new moment in my performing career, and I would honestly love to pursue in more charitable events such as these in the future.

FEAR

For the last 2 weeks of October, leading up to Halloween, I was involved in an immersive phyimg_5762sical theatre performance called FEAR at Avon Valley, as a scare actor. The event was open to the public, who willingly bought tickets to walk through scare mazes, filled with actors like myself. With the three main  attractions being run by Unlocked Vision, I was placed into Anarchy: LIVE. This scare maze was created through the idea of a real life Hunger Games, with customers being the ‘fresh batch’ of contestants for each new game. The maze consisted of three roles to act in – There were the Hosts, who welcomed everyone into the maze,  the Contestant’s, who had gone violently mad from surviving the maze so long, and then finally the Cannibal’s, whose only aim was to eat, attack and intimidate anyone who crossed their path. After dabbling in the role of a contestant, I was placed as a cannibal for the rest of the performances, truly finding my niche within the ‘Skinny Maze’ – a thin palette-ed maze cloaked in strobe lights, smoke and darkness.

I learnt so many new things bimg_5761eing involved in such a large scale production: I learnt close up improvisation [having to react to every customer differently to truly immerse them in the experience], how a close knit team works under pressure [with a code word of ‘Wilson’ easily yelled and spread like wild fire for any difficult customers easily, and an E-Stop button readily available for any emergencies] and how important communication is in a high energy paced environment [with a record time of 4 minutes, a broken piece of set, smashed wall or any other safety issues were quickly sorted by the maintenance team running through the maze. after being called on the radios situated in the acting corridors].

The experience was unlike any job I’d ever had to endure – especially when the aim was to make as many people cry, scream, or wet themselves as you can. Naturally, it’s not the most common job description, but it is certainly one I will consider again in the future.

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Networking Works

Within the space of 10 days, I witnessed the true extent of successful, accidental networking. Despite not communicating within the last 4 years, Sam Plumbley, my old music teacher from my secondary school, Arnold Lodge in Leamington Spa, messaged me with a job opportunity. She explained how she was to be directing a concert, in St. Peters Church in Rugby, hosted by The Rugby Music Union (a prestigious society that has been performing extensive and high quality repertoire since 1895) on the 15th October 2016, with the theme of “beginnings and developments”. Her offer was that she wondered if there was a chance I’d be able to perform a ballet cross contemporary improvisation, alongside a rendition of Beethoven’s Ballet, Prometheus.

The offer was too good an opportunity to dismiss, and I quickly accepted. The following 9 days resulted in constant contact with Sam, discussing style of movement, size of the dance area within the church, structure of sections within the piece of music, costume ideas alongside payment, planned rehearsals and even lifts and transport to and from the event.

After being sent recordings of herself and the flutist playing the music, I loosely choreographed some movement to the sounds; following her request of that the movement be natural, hence, a mild improvisation.

The concert itself consisted of performances from church choirs, chamber choirs, soloists and a primary school choir. With myself being the only ‘performance’, there was a lot of pressure resting on my shoulders, especially since they were being bared in a leotard for the costume aesthetic – an item of clothing I hadn’t worn in a couple of years! Despite the jolted rehearsal, and the overcoming of the carpeted floor with canvas ballet shoes, the night mellowed as the concert commenced. The live music, combined with the earnest eyes aging from 7 to 70, enveloped the rendition and lifted my developing confidence in improvising immensely.

As the concert ended, never had I been thanked to dance for and by, so many people of an elderly status. The entire opportunity opened my eyes to a whole world of elderly people that wish to relive their old dancing days, through the complimenting of those with a younger, and more agile body.

It is certainly an open avenue that I may consider; dance classes for the elderly.