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  • Writer's pictureastridwellscooper

Returning home after a long, long absence...

You know when you arrive home after you've been away for a long time and as you walk in the door, relief washes over you and you sigh in comfort and tell yourself to never go away again?

That was the feeling I got when I experienced my first curtain call in 20 years. Relief. Joy. Familiarity.

My career has largely been in front of camera or a microphone so when I was invited to be part of the cast for Anatomy of a Suicide this year, I was trepidatious. Actually, that's a lie. I was gleeful. I had been wanting to get back in to the theatre at a professional level and so when I was handed the script I said yes immediately.

"Read it" they urged.

"Oh, I will!" I answered.

I didn't.

In my defence, it was hard to read. There are three scenes happening simultaneously. I flicked through (I'm not completely unprofessional) but then just brought I'd wing it.

How hard could it be?

Famous last words. Nothing easy EVER comes after those words. Ever.

Anatomy of a Suicide wasn't easy. It's about suicide and extreme mental health illness. Thankfully my characters (I played 5) all were untouched and untroubled by the mental health issues of those around them. Which meant I had a ball! The biggest issue I had was remembering I was part of an ensemble and keeping my characters in the same genre as everyone else. And remembering my lines. And my cues. And projecting my voice.

It was so hard. We rehearsed about 30 hours a week and my life didn't make way for that, I just had to pile it all on top. I felt so scared and stressed. And then so exhilarated and excited. And tired. Very tired.

Thankfully I wasn't one of the leads. Bec, Zoe & Elise worked tirelessly, without complaint. I was in awe. I shared a stage with the effervescent Tri, the hilarious Jodie (seriously, the funniest woman I've ever met!), kind and gentle Dan, enigmatic Steven, earnest Nikhil and wonderful Tom. I shared the backstage with the most buoyant stage hand Tenielle, unflappable Sarah and was stage managed by the most delicious woman, Ange who didn't bend to pressure when things went horribly wrong. And somehow, this jigsaw puzzle of a play came together brilliantly under the direction of Cat and her brave and clever vision.

How wonderful to be surrounded by brilliant people and must acknowledge Catarina Hebbard and Rebecca Alexander who had enough faith in me to hand me a script (believing I would read it).

I loved it so much. I loved my characters. I loved stepping in to the warm welcoming glow of the stage lights. I loved being part of a strong, kind and fun ensemble.

I will chase those lights forever.

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