REVIEW: A Thousand Splendid Suns at Northern Stage.

By Hildy Harland

A beautifully touching, strong piece of theatre, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a window into another culture, destroyed and rebuilt with an oppressive and extremist regime leaving women vulnerable and desperate! The play covers a plethora of uncomfortable and difficult subjects, domestic abuse, extreme religious laws, death and miscarriage however within this there are light hearted moments too which for me give the show a realness rather than just playing on the drama of the setting.

The more relatable parts of everyday life and the extreme situations the main female characters found themselves in due to war and extremism are wonderfully fused together which for me is what makes this a powerful piece of theatre. It draws the audience in with relatable foundation whilst showing us an extreme truth which is shocking in both cases evokes emotion and draws the audience closer.

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns_Pamela Raith Photography

Credit to Pamela Raith

 

We see our main character Laila develop from a bright young girl into a surpressed woman stuck in a loveless marriage to Rasheed alongside the long suffering Mariam. It was really interesting to watch their relationships grow and change with such a subtlety that you almost don’t realise it is happening. For me the most unsettling part of this story is the manipulation of a vulnerable girl and the genuine misogynistic beliefs that the girls and women of Afghanistan face everyday, as if the war wasn’t enough for them to endure.

This piece of theatre seems so relevant right now! Although we don’t hear too much about Afghanistan on the news anymore it is a stark reminder of how lucky we are here in the UK. In this time of prejudice against migrants and refugees, this piece will be a great education to some on just what people face in these war torn countries and why they leave for the chance to live a better life.

 

Sujaya Dasgupta (Laila) Pal Aron (Rasheed) Amina Zia (Mariam)_ATSS_Pamela Raith Photography 5

Credit to Pamela Raith

I would definitely recommend going to see A Thousand Splendid Suns, it was a really human piece of theatre and brought home and affirmed why as a world we need to be more empathetic and care more about our fellow humans. So don’t forget your tissues, it will be an emotional ride, and take some change for the charity collection at the end of the show.

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Credit to Pamela Raith

A Thousand Splendid Suns has a wonderfully long run at Northern stage from 30th May- 15th June. if you would like to see it for yourself you can book your tickets or find out more about the show on Northern Stage’s website HERE.

Review: The Lovely Bones at Northern Stage

By Hildy Harland.

I do very few theatre reviews which don’t involve dance  in some way, shape or form however, when I was invited to review The Lovely Bones at Northern Stage I could not resist. There has been a great deal of hype on the scene about the arrival of this collaborative play at Northern stage which has joined forces with  Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton co-production and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse to bring this disturbing, funny, heart wrenching and heart warming show to the stage.

Unlike many of the other audience members I had never read the book or even seen the film which is surprising as the film stars Saoirse Ronan one of my favourite actors of the past few years. I have been trying my hardest not to encounter any spoilers. I love to see new theatre as new rather than tainted by things I have seen, heard or read in the past. Usually a very hard thing to do most of the time but this was one of the rare occasions I succeeded almost completely. So needless to say I was really excited to see the show and experience it exactly for what it was.

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Credit : Sheila Burnett

 I will try to give away as few spoilers as possible but I would like to warn fellow theatre goers of the startling opening to the performance as I did very nearly shower my theatre neighbours with pepsi max when a loud blast of audio and flash of light caused me to jump out of my skin! The play begins with us meeting our main character Susie Salmon played by Charlotte Beaumont. She has been murdered, throughout the play we journey with her as she tries to evade heaven and remain with her living friends and family. There is also the matter of her unsolved murder and how she can get justice for her death.

The main thing I took from the show was how uniquely it looked on such a savage and horrific death of a teenager. The news in the world is constantly filled with the rape and murder of young people, in particular  young women abused and murdered by older men. This play brings us the side of the murdered and abused young woman who is so much more than what befell her. She is strong, capable, funny, loveable and even hopeful that things can still some how work out well in some way.

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Credit : Sheila Burnett

Her character is brought to life from the confines of her own personal “heaven” which at times is not as heavenly as you might think. The story is set in the early 1970’s through to 80’s so you can expect some great music to accompany this drama with a twist of deep meaning, philosophy and a touch of humour. I really feel like the feeling of youth shone through in this production not only through the way the material was created but through the performances of the younger actors, it really brought a fresh tone to this kind of drama.  There were lot’s of very strong performances particularly Susie, her father Jack Salmon played by Jack Sandle and MR Harvey Susie’s murderer played by Keith Dunphy, I also enjoyed Ayoola Smart as Lindsey Salmon (Susie’s Sister). Not to say that the rest of the cast weren’t great too although I did get a couple of little accent cringes now and again but I think when a British cast are doing an American play that is always bound to happen.

The piece is really creative with it’s doubling up on characters use of puppetry and even actors playing animals at some points. I really think this story of such a sensitive nature was told to perfection with some really strong thought put into how they could do such a story justice and inject humour and that feeling of youth without being dis-respectful to the sensitive themes explored within the storyline.  The whole cast and creative team truly have succeeded with “The Lovely Bones” and I would recommend you go and see it! It’s running from 9th-20th October at Northern Stage then moves on to Birmingham Repertory Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre.

Hildy’s Health Adventure: Psychotherapy with The Good Nature Company. Let’s get physical!!!!

What a few weeks I have had! I don’t know about anyone else, but to me it always seems like you need copious amounts of time to be healthy. That is probably just me making excuses for myself but being busy always seems to impede my progress to being a healthy human being. The fact that I have terrible organisational skills when it comes to my personal life probably doesn’t help.

In my last post “Hildy’s Health Adventure: Psychotherapy with The Good Nature Company, what I’ve learnt so far.” I wrote about rewarding myself with food and how I had been advised by Julie my psychotherapist from The Good Nature Company to create another way to reward myself. She mentioned how prominent my inner child seems, as if that was a surprise to anyone, so suggested that a good way of keeping on top of rewarding myself without food would be to make a sticker chart! So that is exactly what I did. Now everyone who has seen this chart doesn’t really get it, basically because the chart doesn’t reward anything good in particular,  I use it to stick a sticker on when I feel like I have done something that deserves one. So for example if I get a good chunk of my to do list done for the day I would usually treat myself later that day to some crisps or something I would consider to be a treat, now I have my chart I have tried to exchange that for a sticker on my chart. I also have a section for being upset or sad, so if I’m having a bit of a bad day instead of drowning my sorrows in cake I will put a sticker in that section ( this section needs enlarged!).

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If I feel like the reward needs to be bigger than a sticker I have written some other bigger rewards on the back of my chart which I can dish out to myself where/when I feel I need to! I have definitely treated myself with quite a few small treats already and one or two medium treats too! I hadn’t realised it until writing this piece but this also shows you all how un-rock ‘n’ roll  my life is. Yes Gardening is a treat! One of the fall backs of this chart is that in no way does putting a sticker on a chart feel as good as eating cake, I think getting used to that change will be very hard, which is why I have been dishing out the small treats from the back of my chart like there is no tomorrow.

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One of the issues I have really struggled with in this reward swap is time. I don’t know about anyone else, but eating a packet of crisps for me takes no time whereas most of the non-food treats I have thought of and put into practice tend to take up a lot more time. I already struggle with not having enough time in the day as it is, so with these little things on top of that has taken it’s toll on my work load and I really can’t say they are as convenient as cake. This is something I suppose I just need to make time for and accept but over the past couple of weeks been so busy that I have still used food as a reward.

I know that this is not going to be an overnight change, the temptation is high and the rewards at the moment don’t quite fill the gaps of the old ones (food). I have rewarded myself with food since creating the chart, I know that this habit is so ingrained inm e it will take a long time and lot’s of effort to make the shift.

But I’m working on it and have tried to at least do half and half over the past couple of very busy weeks. Let’s see if I can keep it up!

Anyone reading this in the same position as me I would really suggest giving this a go it certainly gives you a better idea of when/where and why you reward yourself with food.

If you would prefer to get some more in-depth bespoke advice get in touch with Julie by visiting THE GOOD NATURE COMPANY website HERE.29244351_193565954753070_5659912579888185344_n

Hildy’s Health Adventure: Psychotherapy with The Good Nature Company, what I’ve learnt so far.

Well the past few weeks have been an interesting few! I have been seeing Julie a psychotherapist from The Good Nature Company. (If you want to catch up then visit my previous blog HERE). Our first session was great we discussed lot’s, mostly about me, and got to know each other a little bit better. I was expecting these sessions to be quite emotionally charged with me being such an emotional person, but somehow I was calm and collected. Speaking to someone like Julie was kind of like seeing myself from an outside perspective which was quite refreshing. I often get bogged down in the should have, would have, could have scenario and I think addressing my issues from the root cause is what is going to help me accept myself further. From all of the soul searching i have done over the past year or too I know that eating healthily and exercising just isn’t  enough! I don’t just have a fat body, I have a fat brain! If I can’t accept my fat self how am I ever going to A/get to a healthy weight and B/ accept myself when I get there. Won’t I just want more and more and the acceptance will never be there? 

In this first session we set some, I’m going to call them “Goals of Discovery”, meaning certain things I wanted to find out and understand about me/yself. As I have discussed in previous blogs, I am an emotional eater and it’s not just when I’m sad or upset, but when I’m happy, when I have achieved something etc. I use food as a reward. If I have had a really good day I feel I deserve something “delicious” and if I have a terrible day or something bad happens or I’m just generally feeling a bit sad or out of sorts I think something “delicious” will cheer me up. Which is why I am on a mission to break this cycle and finally start moving forward with a healthier way of thinking about food. 

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Baby Hildy age 4

 

Julie and I discussed a lot about my family, who else had weight problems and where/when these emotional eating habits started to kick in. We worked through from being a very small child to my teenage years. We discussed life events and why these habits may have come into my way of coping. We also decided that I have a very strong inner child which came as no surprise to me. We got talking about how my inner child is basically my emotions and my adult self is my practical mind. My emotions need acknowledged they can not be ignored and when they are not satisfied they throw a tantrum and end up being all controlling.  What I need to do is satisfy both and find a balance between them in order to take complete control responsibility for myself or “Own It” as the kids say. 

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Baby Hildy age 3

So I was given a bit of homework to start weaning myself off rewarding with food and satisfying the creative child within (and out) by making an amazing sticker chart with small and large rewards for achievements and emotions I would usually cope with or reward with food.  

I can’t wait to get started!

Hildy’s Health Adventure: Psychotherapy, exploring my mental health.

with The Good Nature Company

I know I have been slightly quiet for a while, but it is mainly because I have really had to delve inside myself over the past few weeks and that can take it’s toll mentally which hasn’t left much time for blogging at the same time which I really never expected to happen. I felt like I needed some time to come to terms with what at the moment feels like a rather large job ahead!

There are a few issues which I just need to put my whole heart and mind into solving, which I will tell you all about later.

But for now here is an introduction to the lovely Julie from The Good Nature Company who will be giving me some Psychotherapy sessions we will be looking at the reasons I have emotional eating patterns and how I can take control of that.

Here is a little video from our first session and an introduction to what we will be exploring over the coming weeks.

 

Hildy’s Health Adventure: KW Fitness 13 day Kick Start to Fitness and a bit of an epiphany!

Today I started the first of thirteen days of fitness videos by KW fitness. They are designed to give you a kick start into a manageable regime by giving you a step by step or rather day by day guide to an all over body workout. Today I will be starting day one which is based around legs.

I also had a bit of an experience this weekend. Talking openly about my true feelings around food, emotional eating, food obsession and being overweight is something I have always struggled with. Yes I joke about it tonnes and talk about it, but very rarely in a true and completely honest way. This weekend I did that, and not only did I do it, I chatted about it to a room full of people who have no idea what it is like to be like this none of these people had ever been overweight.

Take a look at the Vlog for more!

Want to find out more about KW Fitness Visit the FB Page HERE.

If you would like to try out KW Fitness’s 13 Day Kick Start To Fitness Click HERE