When I was younger, I was quite shy and self-conscious and struggled to express myself in social situations.
As a result, my mum was always on the lookout for activities that I could participate in that would push me out of my comfort zone and help me develop confidence socially.
So when I was in Year 11, she encouraged me to audition for the school play.
The prospect of getting involved in the school play made me quite nervous because, up until that point, my track record in drama hadn’t exactly been great.
My confidence had been dented by an incident that had occurred several years earlier during my primary school nativity when I was playing the part of a sheep.
Compared to the other parts in the nativity, the role of the sheep was relatively straightforward.
I only had one very simple line to deliver.
However, when my moment of glory arrived, the pressure of the audience staring at me caused me to panic and I slipped completely out of character and messed up my lines.
Following this, the teachers no longer trusted me to be able to handle the role of the sheep and, as a result, I was cast as the back-end of the donkey when nativity rolled around the following year.
The role of the donkey’s arse was a non-speaking part, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about messing my lines up, although I did find it hard to get fully immersed in my character and the overall narrative arc of the play.
As a result of my experiences in my school nativities, I didn’t have a lot of confidence when I went to audition for the play in Year 11.
The play that year was Oklahoma which was set in the Southern States of America and I was cast in the role of a generic milk maid.
Like the part of the sheep, the role of the milk maid was pretty simple and only involved saying two or three lines of scene setting dialogue.
However, during rehearsals, the teacher gathered us all around her and told us that, in order to give the audience the most immersive viewing experience possible, we would have to put on our best accents.
This was slightly problematic due to the fact that I couldn’t do a Southern American accent, or any accent at all for that matter. In fact, the only accent that I could do was a stronger version of the accent that I already had.
As a result, our school’s production of Oklahoma featured eight Southern American Maids and then me, the extremely Liverpudlian one.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the audience laughed at me when I delivered my lines, something which I interpreted as an affirmation of my inherent comedic talent as opposed to a reaction to my dubious ‘American’ accent.
Following this ‘success’, I decided that I actually quite liked acting so, the following year, I auditioned for the school production of MacBeth and was cast as a witch.
Whilst this was an upgrade from my previous role as a milkmaid, it was still a relatively minor part.
However, at this point, I was beginning to develop a little more confidence in myself and was sick of playing a background characters.
I became convinced that the only reason that I that I wasn’t getting to play starring role was because I was being forced to play two-dimensional supporting characters that didn’t allow me to explore the full range of emotional expression that I was capable of.
I thought that if I fleshed out the character of Witch 2, I would be able to form a better emotional connection with her character and really show off what I could do.
Unfortunately, my teacher didn’t seem as onboard with my attempt to diversify the roles of the witches, especially when it started to interfere with the performances of the other students.
I was never cast in another school play again and my acting career has never quite recovered since!
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