Escapism on Stage

As well as writing, creating media content and attending live gigs, I also enjoy acting.

Helen O'Grady Drama Academy

Helen O’Grady Drama Academy Logo

Growing up, I struggled to find clubs or societies with suitable access or activities I could participate in. Then at the age of 10, a friend from school invited me to a taster session at her drama group: Helen O’Grady Drama Academy. I was instantly hooked and joined the group, attending sessions on a weekly basis. After a year, I was moving house but luckily there was another class run by the same company in my new town. We did a variety of scripted and improvised work, verbal dynamics and occasionally movement, body language and dance. Every term we’d perform what we learnt to our friends and family then in the summer term we would put on a big show of a scripted play, performed at a college theatre. The ages range from 5 – 17 year olds with three different class groups. This was also the place I met my best friend and 13 years on we’re still as close as ever (despite living in different pats of the country).

In 2008 I left Helen O’Grady Drama Academy so I could attend Treloar’s School & College. At school, I hoped to choose Drama as a GCSE but unfortunately there wasn’t as there wasn’t enough students choosing it as an option. Instead I took the Entry Level classes (below GCSE) and assisted the teacher in directing the other students. As my teacher knew I’d pass the course in 5 minutes, she gave me the job of writing their script for the Year 11 exam. As we were doing Romeo & Juliet in English, I created a modern version of Shakespeare’s play. Also at Treloar School, we have a school production every other year in the summer term. In 2010, I got the chance to play the Wicked Witch of the West in our production of the Wizard of Oz. Nearly every student in the school had a part and we had an accessible stage in our school hall to perform on.

At college I joined a drama group along with other Treloar students in Borden which was specifically tailored for those with disabilities. The teacher was also disabled which felt more equal and she had first hand experiences of acting with a disability. We idn’t get a chance to do much performing but I enjoyed the classes, workshops and making friends. Unfortunately the group closed a year later.

When beginning university, I hoped to join a performing arts society via the student union but unfortunately there was no such thing. Plus with my lack of quality carers and a uni social life non-existent, creating a society was impossible at the time. Then one day I wailed sat in the uni canteen, I came across a brochure for a place called the Farnham Maltings that had a drama group called The Young Company. I attended it from 2014-2016 and took part in numerous performances. My highlights were taking part in the National Theatre Connections competitions. This event brings schools, colleges and theatre groups together to compete in a chance to perform at the National Theatre. We took part in 2015 and 2016 but were unsuccessful getting a place at the National Theatre. However we did get the chance to perform at the Capital Theatre in Horsham in 2015 where I famously had one of my wheels fall off the stage and an audience member had to push me back on before I fell. Then in 2016 we performed at the Lyric Theatre in London which had incredible disabled facilities including a ceiling hoist in th toilets.

The Young Company

The Young Company performing ‘Remote’ for NT Connections – 2015

The Young Company

The Young Company performing ‘Gargantua’ for NT Connections – 2016

I love the fun of pretending to be someone different, escaping real life dramas and can forget I’m disabled while performing. I do hope to keep on acting and find an accessible dramatics group local to me in Alton. So if anyone has any suggestions, do contact me!

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Published by Rock For Disability

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