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  • Rachel S

‘Black Dark’ at Live Theatre as part of ‘Your Voice: North East’ September 2021

After being featured on BBC iPlayer for ‘Bin Day’ and commissioned by Northern Stage coming out of lockdown for ‘Tub Time’, in what has been such a difficult time for the theatre industry, I really thought I had come out of the pandemic pretty well and was happy that my hard work during lockdown had paid off.

Little was I to know, that I was then going to get a straight offer to work on ‘Black Dark’ at Live Theatre!

I had met Jonluke at some workshops and we had a chat about fatphobia in the arts, being benefit class and my inability to be seen for a part that is not labelled as fat, and my personal pet peeve, when directors and casting directors read a script they generally imagine an androgynous looking, thin, white woman. To my surprise he came back to me with a job offer – a fabulous, darkly comedic, detailed play written by Aimee Shields, about two flat mates on the ‘worst day of their lives’ that he thought I would be great at.

I had never seen a director act so quickly to a discussion on fatphobia and certainly hadn’t planned to gain anything from it! It’s the first part I’d played in years where the character was not described as fat (unless I’d written it for myself) and a line about being on a diet hadn’t been shoe horned in to the script! As you can imagine, it was an absolute pleasure to work on.

After the past 18 months in a pandemic, working mainly on one woman short films and plays, it was incredibly cathartic to be in a rehearsal room with another actor, really looking at the relationship between Lara and Sam and analysing a brilliant piece of new writing. It was a joy to work with fellow Smoggy Elijah Young and director Jonluke McKie and I really appreciated being n a room with working-class artists, so you could just get to the heart of the piece without having to worry about language/social cues.

It was my first time working at Live Theatre and it was a privilege to be there after such a hard year. Every writer, director and actor I met working on ‘Your Voice: North East’ seemed equally as grateful to be back on stage in such a brilliant theatre and it was a confidence boost to be amongst people who have worked for the likes of the RSC and performed on Broadway etc. It was also great to have a bit of a run (which sadly isn’t the norm in the North East) to add more detail and colour throughout the week and being able to play with the comedic and sobering elements to the piece, nailing the nuance of my closing monologue on the last night, as seems to sadly always be the case with short runs!

I honestly think it has been my favourite job of the past 6 years, it meant so much more to me after the lockdowns and has set a new bar for the standard of what I want to work on in the future. Brilliantly nuanced writing, with a creative team that are open and ready to go on a journey, without the bullshit.

Since finishing at Live Theatre, I interviewed for a position as Lead Facilitator at Live Youth Theatre, working with the 10-13 year olds one evening a week. I’m really looking forward to passing on all of my knowledge as a professional actor and theatre-maker who is also a trained teacher. I will be directing a short piece devised by the students in April 2022 alongside my trainee facilitator Papi Jeovani, so watch this space!


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