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  • Helen Walling-Richards

2021/2022 - The End & Beginning of a Year

Writing this title seems weird - growing up watching 1970s, '80s and '90s sci-fi films and TV, it doesn't seem so long ago that these are the years people expected us to be wearing shiny silver jumpsuits, being friends with humanoid AI robots and holograms, and travelling through time and space. (I really should see if there are any episodes of Tomorrow's World available to see how right or wrong they were in their earlier days!!!)


The reality unfortunately is far grittier and unexpected. No one could have expected a global pandemic like the last 2 years has seen (although varying forms of both natural and man-made disasters are constant through the centuries - some countries experiencing these more frequently than others - and with several large scale medical pandemics having already been realised and largely overcome over the last 100 years). Thankfully this year started to see a change in the number of those affected as vaccines became available (and yet the global roll-out has been shamefully unbalanced despite a seeming temporary levelling of humanity and kindred understanding).


I want to summarise where I'm at, but living in a world that has been hugely affected by a pandemic can't not be acknowledged. I'm incredibly thankful that so far I've not been physically affected by it or grieving because of it, although I sadly know many who are. Finances and opportunities for me changed and yet I've survived and experienced other opportunities I wouldn't have had - from spending 4 months living with my dad last year when I had no work or income, managing instead to enjoy that time I otherwise wouldn't have had with him, and learning a "bit" of gardening as I helped him sort things out (although to be fair, it was very much the blind leading the blind!); networking on Zoom with people who would normally be too busy to network; and the unexpected extra time available in a constantly busy life to be able to work on other personal and professional self-development. I'm extremely thankful for the increased use of self-tapes and Zoom auditions that still remains, as I don't think people realise the costs that actors prioritise to bear in order to attend an audition especially for those who don't live/work in central London (plus the environmental benefits of auditioning from home and less accessibility hurdles for all). I even wrote a monologue which I've turned in to a script and has become a project to work on as lack of funds allow.


2021 for me has been a good year, for which I'm very thankful. I've had a couple of filming jobs (corporate and commercial) and been on several final shortlists for some amazing film and TV projects with highly respected casting directors, and for leading roles for some exciting independent productions. Besides my own project, I have been cast in some shorts to film next year, at least one of which I know will make waves. I've strengthened friendships and relationships, and made new connections. And I got a new agent!


The biggest acting thing for me this year was my role in A Simple Tale of Love, a one act play written by Sasha Ravencroft who also wrote God that I've been cast in (due to have premiered in June 2020). In March this year, Ravencroft knew I would suit the role of Molly in this two person dark poignant dramedy and cast me in it which I accepted before I'd even read it as I've loved every script of Ravencroft's that I've seen. With God not likely to happen until 2022, this one act play was the right length to be in fringe festivals and would keep us busy in an otherwise (temporarily) slowed industry. I assisted with the setting up of Ravencroft's newly formed production company ahead of A Simple Tale of Love and God being premiered, and began working with a fantastic cast and crew as we rehearsed and performed A Simple Tale of Love - getting to know new people and strengthening existing connections. The gorgeous Daniel Singh Pabla stepped in relatively last minute as my co-star JD when the initially cast actor was unable to make the live show dates, and worked hard to learn his lines and choreography to give a brooding and comical performance despite acquiring an injury from performing A Midsummer Night's Dream earlier this summer. Nicole Roberts Ryder, who I knew from Rose Bruford College, was our director and did a truly fantastic job - I'm really looking forward to seeing where her directing (besides her acting) career takes her! Kristina Poliszczuk, an experienced stage hand and professional singer/songwriter/teacher, brilliantly came to our aid as Stage Manager and supported the smooth running of everything behind scenes - and occasionally on stage too with our choreographed dress changes. We were very fortunate to have the help of professional dancer/choreographer/actor Summer Jay Jones who worked with us to develop the salsa choreographies. And Ravencroft, as a small independent producer, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything happen. We were very thankful to all the hard working volunteer crew and to those who attended our fundraiser preview event in south Kent to help raise money to pay for being part of a fringe festival, as well as the generous support of the venue's chairman. It was very exciting to perform as part of the Camden Fringe Festival this August at both the Etcetera Theatre and the Hen & Chickens Theatre; and then in October performing as part of the London Horror Festival at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington; and we're grateful to the teams at those festivals and theatres who helped us, and all audience members who came to watch. Thank you. This is the first time I've performed fringe and it was an interesting and eye-opening experience! We're grateful to Debra Bond who learnt the entire script to understudy for both Molly and JD had either of us been unable to perform. We also had some reviewers and industry guests come to watch, which we very much appreciated, and are thankful to have mostly had positive reviews of this never before seen play from this up and coming playwright.

#ASimpleTaleOfLove #CamdenFringeFestival #LondonHorrorFestival #EtceteraTheatre #TheHenAndChickensTheatre #ThePleasanceTheatre #RudeRavenProductions


We had hoped to make the premiere tour of Rude Raven's debut play A Simple Tale of Love continue into 2022, but between the costs of attending fringe festivals, various selection processes of the festivals, and Rude Raven wanting to focus efforts on bringing God to the stage at some point in 2022, we are happy to have been a part of 2 live theatre festivals in London this summer/autumn, plus a very supportive fundraiser preview. I'm sure a new run of A Simple Tale of Love will rear at some point in the future, with or without me, and potentially also a digital version now that digital entry to theatre fringe festivals are possible and more cost effective than live shows - so watch this space!

#FringeTheatre #Production


The 4 published reviews of A Simple Tale of Love can be read:

- https://www.londonpubtheatres.com/review-a-simple-tale-of-love-by-sasha-ravencroft-at-etcetera-theatre-24-aug-hen-and-chickens-theatre-28-29-aug-2021

- https://markaspen.com/2021/08/30/simple-love/

- https://www.thereviewshub.com/a-simple-tale-of-love-camden-fringe-hens-and-chickens-theatre/

- http://fairypoweredproductions.com/a-simple-tale-of-love-review/


Thank you for coming and reviewing! #LondonPubTheatres #MarkAspen #TheReviewsHub #FairyPoweredProductions


For 2022, professionally I'm looking forward to the short films I'll be in, potentially performing in God which will be a big challenge of my acting (not least because of multi-rolling and various accents I have to develop!) - as well as all the unknowns. That's the thing with this industry, it only takes a few seconds to read an email or answer a phone call to have things completely change - you never know what discussions are taking place about you. I'm looking forward to further networking, along with the strengthening of current relationships. And I recently joined John Osborne-Hughes' 5 term training course which I'm excited to continue into new terms and seeing how I develop as a person and an actor through this. #TheSpiritualPsychologyOfActing #SPofA #GodThePlay #ActorsLife


Most of all, I'm hoping that 2022 will be healthy and happy, and that this is true for all.


Happy new year everyone! May 2022 heal hurts, bring fresh starts and an abundance of positive changes.

#HappyNewYear



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