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.
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.
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.
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!
I have been having a bit of a life overhaul of late. Trying to figure out how I can make everything work together, work-life-money balance is something that I have always struggled with as an adult. Because I am so passionate about my work it seems to often take over my life and at the moment the ‘sitting in front of my laptop’ side of things has really had a negative effect on me. I have been stuck doing so much admin and social media trying to get Dance Culture North East up and running that I have hardly had time to train and be the physical person that I once was. Over the past few months I have realised how much this has made me unhappy with my body and that is now effecting my confidence as a performer. It can’t be good for my health either.
So I have decided to set myself a little quest over the next four months I will endeavour to change my bad habits and lead a healthier life. Not just looking at diet and fitness, but delving into my mind to discover how I can make realistic and positive changes that will stick. “But Hildy” I hear you cry “I thought you were a body positivity promoter and believe that you don’t have to be skinny etc to be happy”. Well, yes I do believe that, but when you aren’t looking after yourself properly and your health, both mental and physical is effected it’s really time to make changes! I didn’t want to be alone on this journey, so I thought I would blog about it and bring you all along for what I’m sure will be a bit of a roller coaster ride! Over the next four months (May-August) I will be exploring different therapies, workouts, nutritional advice, classes and workshops to try and find my work-life balance and generally improve my health, happiness and wellbeing.
Hypnosis with HUMMINGBIRD Mind Therapy
I Began my journey on 1st May with a session at Humming bird Mind Therapy . I opted for the Wellbeing Package which consists of three sessions that I will be attending weekly. I must admit my main aim for these sessions are some self control where food is concerned, I want my diet to give me more energy setting me up for those really busy weeks, address some confidence issues as well as break some really bad (hard to banish) emotional eating habits to gain some self control and strength.
Before we started my first session we did a short video to introduce what Hypnosis is all about! Want to know how it all went and if it worked? Come back on MONDAY to find out………..
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
This really isn’t a review as such but I just wanted to mention how excited I was to finally hit this venue last night to see some new work by North East Artists.
I have been a very busy bee of late, starting up my new blog Dance Culture North East and am really making a big push to get to know lots of venues and people on the theatre scene in Newcastle Upon Tyne/Gateshead where I live and the rest of the North East.
I have been hearing great things since this small new theatre popped up in the basement of an old building just off Blackett Street in Central Newcastle and I thought “oow I must go there”. However through my own busy-ness/laziness I never did manage to make it to the original Alphabetti Theatre Venue, Unfortunately/Fortunately I don’t know which they would prefer me to say, the building within which they were housed was marked for demolition and knocked down along with the tearing down of the old Odeon (don’t get me started I still feel very sad about that). With much hard work and determination I’m sure, Alphabetti picked itself up, brushed itself off and found an amazing venue on ST James Boulevard close to a few other cool venues (Tyne Opera Theatre, Boulevards and Dance City) Is this area set to be our new place for a community of theatre venues in Newcastle? Maybe it could be?
Anyway I had heard about the new venue and had been watching the progress with bated breath on Facebook and Instagram, until finally this Autumn the doors opened and I attended my very first performance of ‘Write Faster’ which was definitely worth the wait.
(Above: The georgous Rex resident pooch at Alphabetti helping out)
Write Faster is a concept devised by Alphabetti Theatre’s Founder Ali Pritchard and Richard Stockwell. It involves 3 writers, 3 actors, a typewriter, pens, paper a laptop and a whole lot of hilarity in this particular case. The writers basically have to write a play on the night of the play, As I walked in the three writers were already heavily in the swing of writing the first act and you could sit and watch them writing on the laptop screen which was projected onto the wall. Once the first act was written the performers came in and performed it (script in hand and amazingly well under the circumstances) and as they performed the second and third act were written, after what I think was the third act there was a short interval and the ends were tied up with a monologue for each character/performer. The performances were superb and the writing was completely engaging too somehow even though nobody really knew what was going on until it was happening it gelled together well and gave the audience a fantastic night of giggles mystery and crime!
So a huge thumbs up to Alphabetti Theatre and no doubt as they make superb vegan sweet treats and the café/bar is open during the day too, I shall be back for theatre and probably cake and coffee as well.
Hey peeps, here is a brand new video from a performance a few weeks back at Prohibition Cabaret Bar for the press night of Q Festival.
I have been performing my whole life and performed many different genres of dance on a lot of formal stages since I was 4 years old, however because of my weight and probably, just being a big ol’ scaredy-cat, I had never tried my hand at dancing in a cabaret format. Something about being alone on a small stage and the audience being within sniffing distance made me very nervous! But all my life I have idolised cabaret performers and the sort of art they make, cheeky, quirky, funny; Cabaret can be anything you want it to be, and that’s why lot’s of people love it!
So when I was asked if I would to do a commissioned choreography and performance at a bar called Can Can, how could I resist?
So here it is, my debut at Can Can bar enjoy!!
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