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Theatre | My First audition...


I was nine years old when I had my first audition. I'd been put forward by my drama school teacher. Who wasn't really a teacher, and it wasn't really a drama school. Just a Saturday morning drop in session ran by a couple of local drama students that I can't remember the name of.

The audition was for their friends final year show. They needed a child to play the younger version of the protagonist in 'Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.' A show which at the time I was too young to really understand.


I remember standing outside the audition room with my mum. It was cold, and the campus was coated in leaves.  It was probably the first time I'd been in a university, and I was 9 so probably didn't really know if I felt nervous or not, but I was definitely giddy taking it all in. 

I was invited into the room, which I now guess was a small lecture theatre. It had a small rasied stage and lots of chairs with those desks that folded down at one side. I was met by two girls who were very nice, and I vividly remember the director was wearing a crimson coloured top, had dark curly hair, and a way of standing which looked like she was leaning jauntily on her own hips. For a while I thought I had fashioned this arty image of her in my head, but when I spoke to my mum she knew exactly what I meant about the thrust out hips.

Once I was in the room and had taken off my blue puffer jacket from Marks and Spencers, they asked me to stand on stage. There were a number of random objects on the floor, including oranges, and they asked me to play with them like I'd never seen them before. I remember getting down on hands and knees and carefully inspecting and turning each object over. I'm not sure if I was truly acting or just taking it all in, after all so much of the situation was new to me, that even the oranges probably looked a little foreign.

Not to brag too much, but they were impressed. Impressed enough to give me the role, and at 9 years old this felt huge, and very grown up.

Finishing school to go to an evening rehearsal, hanging out with a bunch of much older people, who treated me like I really was part of the group, and learning my lines. I guess at 9 years old that was a pretty grown up thing to be doing.

There was another girl in my class at school, the girl that was the real actress, she went to a proper drama school, and was playing one of the orphans in The Grand Opera House's latest production of Annie. She could sing and dance, and everyone was making a fuss of it and for a while I was jealous. But then I got to dye my hair ginger to match the girl who was playing the older version of my character and I didn't care any more.

I adopted a bit of drama snobbery early on. Deciding that big musicals were too mainstream for my taste anyway, and that I was making real hard hitting theatre about religion and other taboo subjects I didn't really understand. Besides my class mates were all far too young to be able to come and see the show, so I was essentially the Dakota Fanning of my school.

I can't remember any of my lines from the show, just snapshots in my head. I remember the set vividly, and the old York University drama barn. A sofa on one side, that I had to hide behind and pop up at one point. A kitchen table at the other, where the girl playing a gran in a wig sat and revealed her secrets, to the older version of me. I remember sneaking out after the first half. Wearing a pink t-shirt from tammy girl to rehearsals. Standing awkwardly for the procution photos and the discussion surrounding whether or not my M&S puffer jacket was too shiny for the 80s that we were trying to portray.

I remember the adrenaline of being on a proper stage for the first time, and how the lights were so bright I couldn't see the front row, how great it felt to be a part of something and I remember being really really sad when it was all over. All the same things I still feel when I'm in a production now.

I'm not sure where the girl who played an orphan in Annie ended up, but I do still think musicals are a little too mainstream for my taste, and that my type of theatre happens in barns and studios, where people stand on their hips. We dye our hair for the roles and worry about the smaller details, but never have the budget to get them just right. Almost nothing has changed for me, apart from being old enough now to understand that the 'Oranges are not the only Fruit' was actually about my character growing up to be a lesbian in a very strictly religious community, even if I have never read or seen the second act.

Live life & eat more than oranges x

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