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.

A Thousand Splendid Suns_Pamela Raith Photography (2)

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.

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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.

The Lovely Bones  1.9.18
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.

The Lovely Bones  1.9.18
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 Harland in Dark Christmas

A few weeks back I shared a video of some of my choreography from Dark Christmas, a play I was part of over Christmas 2017. It was pretty well received so I thought I would also share one of my scenes from the play too. I played Helga wife of the main protagonist William.

Take a look below and feel free to SUBSCRIBE to my channel for more performances, dance, reviews, vlogs and more!

Reveiw: Hedda Gabler at Theatre Royal Newcastle.

Amazingly enough I had never heard of Hedda Gabler  before I had seen it advertised a few times recently both up north and in London. I then found out it had been around since 1891 and was a little embarrassed I hadn’t come across it before now.

A few hours before the performance I did ask a fellow actor chum of mine if he had seen this classic completely unknown to me and it turns out he hadn’t seen it either so that comforted me a little.

I definitely get the feeling that this play was something quite unique at the time it was created, although I’m not too sure how well I think the story translates to the present day. Our main protagonist Hedda Gabler has just been married and arrived back from her honeymoon with her husband who we can see deeply adores her. (For a full synopsis of the story go click here)

Here is what I thought of the show!

 

Marvellous Moves

At the beginning of this month like most people I was contemplating the year ahead and what I wanted to achieve. I’ve set some very vague goals and targets for myself and for my career. Most of them involve self growth through  building on my practices and growing stronger as a performer.

As well building performance skills a huge part of my growth into making a living from what I do, is generating some physical evidence of my choreography skills. I have always been passionate about creation of movement and it really always has been something I really enjoyed and been told I am quite good at. Although I love being on stage I have had a few jobs recently where I have had fun directing and choreographing too.

Over Christmas I was cast in a play called Dark Christmas by emerging play-write Julian Kilburn. I not only got the chance to perform but actually fell into the role of doing a little bit of light hearted choreography for one of the final scenes.

Here is a little snippet from the night.

It was wonderful to work with actors and give them some movement built from the characters they have created and their stories. Everyone worked so hard learning the movement and giving it their own stamp, particularly as we ended up with such a small amount of time to work on things.

I am now looking to connect with more Theatre makers  and directors to work with in incorporating movement into their art as a choreographer. It would be wonderful to hear from anyone interested in working with me. Drop a comment below if you are interested or pop over to my Contact Hildy page.

Happy 2018!

Image by Michael Ash

A belated happy new year to you all!

So another year has begun and boy what a year we leave behind! A year that a lot of people are glad to see the back of where politics and international and national happenings are concerned. Not a great year for a lot of reasons.

However as you may have noticed I am ever the optimist and for me 2017 has had it’s ups and downs but I can’t help leaving it feeling proud, positive and hopeful for the year ahead. 2017 was my first year as a fully self-employed artist and I feel proud that I made it this far and have actually lived to tell the tale.

I’ve done so many fun jobs around the country and each one has taught me something new, built up my confidence and given me the inspiration to plough on through.

As I haven’t blogged for a while so I have lots to share with you all. I will begin with this little experiment. I used my mobile phone to make a very short film about a day in the life of a dancer, it’s a bit of a slice from my inner thoughts and feelings too as I don’t really have a single day that is the same.

Here it is enjoy!

Hildy Harland as Marie Lloyd: My Music Hall Debut

marie lloyd 2

At the end of September I took on a bit of a new challenge and added a new era to my repertoire. I was commissioned by ARC Stockton to create a 10 minute Music Hall Act. Being a Huge fan of Marie Lloyd (one of the most famous Music hall singers in Britain) I just had to pay my tribute to her.

marie lloyd 1

The performance was very different to what I’m used to, I chose to perform completely authentically without voice amplification which was scary at first but very freeing physically allowing me to venture into my audience, which I loved! So I thought I would share the video with you all because I am seriously thinking about adding this era as one of my regular acts. Enjoy!