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Hello all,

Hope you are well and still keeping positive within Lockdown 3.0.

Today, I’m going to do something a little different and just write this letter to you all, about how I’m doing in this time and hopefully reach out to all of you who may be feeling similar.

When I say, I’m a drama student- most people would think of someone who lives their life on a stage, pratice rooms full of people making weird shapes and pretending to be trees (which I have done but don’t judge it). Though now, in this time that feels more like a fantasy than something I was doing only 3 months again, which I luckily was able to do.

Working with a mask on, is not the most glamorous thing in the world but it was not the torture that it appears to be. I was able to work in a class of 7 people, all socially distanced and in masks, but still in a pratice room. It was a strange experience, a warped sense of a familiar feeling of going into the room. Nevertheless, I was excited to do things after the nervousness we felt in Lockdown 2 of not knowing if life can be a little bit normal again. However, I also felt fear and frustration- fear that, I was doing my degree, all the while I kept seeing on  the news how the industry, I wanted to go into was ‘crumbling’ and going to be ‘CLOSED FOREVER!’ – Oh, the horror of it all! But it scared me of the anxieties what if it did, then what would I do, nevertheless, I just kept going to my classes and tried to solider through the fear that this wouldn’t be so.

And frustrated, I was upset that it just didn’t feel the same, it didn’t feel like the same degree and my experiences would they amount to the same, if I can’t properly perform.  This whole thing was just a whirlwind of emotions for three months and put me into a strange place.

Now in Lockdown 3, I miss that feeling but I also learnt from it. Now all my class I am sad to saying are online, which is still a strange sensation. Nevertheless those 3 months taught me a lot in how to cope in this strange circumstance. But I’ll break it down to three things.

1, Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself – Sometimes anxiety can take over in a difficult situation, it’s okay to take a day to yourself, to ease your worries and working on yourself, not me that’s writing and recently…knitting! I definitely recommend it- I’m not the best knitter but it’s very relaxing. Admit to yourself you’re having a bad day. We all have them.

2. Get to know other online chat avenues- Zoom is not the only outlet out there. Yes, it maybe it’s the most efficient but also take time away from it to, there is Microsoft teams, Skype, A website called Lark which not only calendars your events but also taking calls. There are plenty of avenues to try to navigate and feel more comfortable in this new way of talking. Additionally, this can apply talking to your friends, this doesn’t have to be over zoom either! There are plenty of ways to reach out, whether be over the internet through discord which is perfect for voice chats in big groups or even writing a letter or going on a walk, a nice way to break your day away from a screen  and stress and reach out to the people you love.

3. Think about what you’re grateful for. Over Lockdown, I feel I’ve reflected on I am lucky to have people around me who care about me so much and have been making steps to learn to appreciate things in life more . So tonight, I will be thankful I’m able to make a pancake and enjoy it with my family, in my home where I’m warm, fed and loved and I hope you all can do the same, whether it be with friends, family, pets or even having some alone time. Remember you can do this; you’ve survived this long and it’ll get more comfortable.

Love Em x

Em’s tip: If there are any societies or groups whether you be in university or just online in general. Don’t be afraid to get involved, it’s a great way to meet new people and have fun things to do online. For example, in my drama society at my university, we just did a online combat class- How cool is that!

A picture of my Knitting! I know it’s got some holes but a rainbow is a rainbow none the less.

From School to University – The changes and differences to be aware of.

In my lead up to leaving my secondary school (which also acted as my college) to University, I found the transition difficult, particularly in the differences in structure. I know that for many young people, whether going to university or not, it’s a hard experience to go into the unknown. As a person with some experience now, I hope to put your mind at ease, even if not completely, but just a little, during this transition, particularly in this time where nothing really feels right

The Workload can vary 

For people coming out of A-levels, it was a time of having an extreme revision of a lot of content for exams. This may be something you never want to do again because of this. University is similar but not the stereotype of being A levels on high energy. Instead, most of your First-year work will be things you may have covered already and then build-up to the new elements. Lectures are similar to classes with the typical PowerPoint and taking notes, however, there are also seminars later on that are much more suited for you, instead of waiting behind to ask your teacher a question about your work after class. Instead, you have an hour with other people in your course to, not only ask questions but also get other perspectives that may change your mind. In many courses, you don’t have to go in every day, similar to college, but this time is not just to do homework but also do research on your own. In my opinion, University is a perfect space for people who don’t mind doing some extra work. As you work through your modules, it may appear that because you study one thing (or two if doing a joint degree) that you do less, but like college, you will have more substantial work instead to build your understanding. 

  • Teaching

In my experience, self-study was always the main focus at University. The majority of my teachers are good at what they do because they don’t need to specify that they are knowledgable. You already know that they are (partially because half of the books you will read are written by them) but also because they trust you enough that you can answer your own questions and solve your own problems instead of relying on the teacher. This can be one of the hardest things to adjust to, but the way to get over this is through doing your own research. If you simply rely on what your lecturer tells you throughout your degree, you will not get the full experience. Instead, you should gain more experiences. A good way to do this is not just to talk to your lecturers but perhaps reach out to other lecturers in different modules too to gain their view in order to eventually come to your own.

For this reason, most of the best teachers in my university experience acted more like hype-men and give advice rather than lead us to conclusions for the entire time. This transition is hard to get around but it is important for students when going into careers. Just make sure you still ask as many questions as possible.

  • Freedom and looking after yourself

For many people, going to University means freedom you don’t experience being surrounded by your family. It’s almost like a temptation once you get there, your focus is on making friends, making memories and going clubbing because now you can. However, these wants also distract you from the more negative elements of becoming an adult which you may not need to think of in school. One of the examples may be feeding yourself and being away from home. For some, this isn’t a problem but being in a new atmosphere and environment distracts from learning. In college, there is an intensity which people again want to avoid and University, for the most part, can do that, however, this will only happen if you plan. It is important to find in your first year, while things are little more relaxed, a balance between work and social life, such as doing 4 hours of revision a day on the lead up to exams or going out at least for 2 hours a day to see a friend. The main thing is to build a plan that can be challenging at times but also allows there to be some pacing. 

Once you have that, the university may become easier and less pressing on you and your mental health, which is the most important thing to look after.

Uni is a strange experience, to say the least between the so-called real world and childhood but this makes it the time in which you can start to figure out who you are, what you want and start to build it. In this time, it may be hard to know that but uni will continue differently through zoom and if they can continue so can you.

Em x

Em’s tip- It’s okay not to understand who you are as an artist, explore and try new things and don’t feel you need to stick to one thing to be popular, versatility is a good trait to have and being able to adapt is even better.

Also, take your vitamins.

Younger Interviews- An Interview with a Young Artist: Peter Davies

E: So, I’m joined by one of my amazingly nerdy friends Peter (yes that’s a compliment to him), we’ve known each other since Primary school but we really only became friends again after going to see ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ about almost a year ago now. I think we bonded cause we both hated it, but hey friendship. Like me Peter is a fellow amateur artist but for him, it is the art of words.

E: First off how are you doing in Tier 3 which has just been introduced?

P: I’m not having too bad of a time; I feel being indoors allows me to concentrate a bit more. Sometimes there are things that distract me ( like we all feel sometimes) but it helps me think things. The limitations of being indoors, it almost makes you feel more creative, at least in my experience.

E: That’s a really positive way of thinking about it, So what kind of work do you do?

P: Well, I do a lot of fiction writing, I do a lot of short stories and long novels

E: What are you working on right now?

P: A big series, I’m almost finished with Book 1, it’s mostly doing editorial stuff but I’m also starting to work on a short story

E: What’s that about?

P:You’ll find out.

E: Oo, mysterious. Why did you start writing?

P: I’ve always been interested in creative writing, the idea of putting something together like stories has always fascinated me. I’ve found it easy to make things up but also I feel I can convey things through stories. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and I like the idea of sharing that with people and keeping it to yourself is pretty boring and you think ‘What if other people would want to see it.’

E: I definitely agree with you there, that’s why I do what I do and just get it out there for the world to see. Coming that perspective of conveying things in stories, why do you think it’s important for young people to be involved within the arts?

P: Well, it’s important for people, both young but also older people too to be focused in creative things because in a way it’s something we’ve lost a bit as well as gained. I think being creative and especially now adays when the world’s a bit bleak, having a creative outlet is more important as you have a place where you have some sort of control over is powerful as it’s something that people need right now. In a way creative defines us

E: Definitely especially if sometimes you feel invisible when you do when your  young and you feel unrepresented, speaking of Have you felt misrepresented as an artist before, particularly as a young person?

P: In some way I have had some opportunities, when I just start secondary school, I got to take part in a creative writing book called ‘around the world in 80 words’ and I wrote a short story for it.

E: Do you think that inspired you in a way, to keep writing?

P: A lot yeah, starting secondary started the interest.

E: Do you think, though it’s good to have these opportunities, not all people have had things like that. Have you ever felt like that in a way, particularly professionally?

P: Yeah, in some ways once you get serious about it,  you have a responsibility of topping your work and if you feel you can’t then you’re not living up to a potential, there’s a lot of pressure there in all creative people really and I think it’s mainly due to how difficult it is to get into the industry, sometimes it’s easy to get in due to more independent things but the main thing is people want to feel stable so there’s worry about that and because of that I feel young people feel pressured to not pursue it because it’s not going to get me anywhere and that’s a sad thing.

E: What you like to see a standard for the arts once Young people take over in the future like getting rid of these misconceptions?

I think what needs to happen is to allow young people more control of the content that they produce in the future, to allow them to actually have a voice not controlled by a older generation.

Take my own field of publishing, traditional publishing has some good aspects of being able to get yourself out there, but the problem is you have less creative control and you may come out with a product you wanted in the first place because of how corporate it is now  . Same with how it feels all the films recently are just parts of big franchises with big names attached rather than give people a chance.

 That’s why self-publishing has become more popular but that can also have it’s faults as some people won’t take you seriously because of that. Allowing more trust to young people should be the way to go, trust our voices and our stories instead of limiting it and it may surprise you.

E: It doesn’t help when you email and then they Ghost you!

P: Yeah, just tell me what I can do and what I can do better, give me a chance rather than feel like I’m wasting my time.

E: I agree with that. Finally, what advice would you give to people our age trying to get involved in the arts?

P: Keep making lots of things and be broad with the things you do make. If some tells you that you’re wasting your time just do it anyway because they don’t know what they are talking about. Though you need to be determined as the creative arts is something you must keep ramming yourself at to get through so keep going no matter.

Happy Holidays to all of you

Em x

How Young is too Young?- A rant piece.

I think it’s safe to say that this Generation are more tech savy than any others. The majority of us aren’t exactly technical engineers like our parents believe we are but we know our way around apps and connecting to wifi is never a problem. With this tech accessibility it has become much easier to get your art out there but also it can be seen that many young people go ‘Viral’ over night on platforms like Tiktok and Youtube, from 15,13 or even 10 years old. However, from this demystifying of how to become ‘popular’ online ( Thank you Uni Degree for the terminology) it opens the possibility of young people now being exposed to the same toxicity and negative atmosphere found online that targets people in the spotlight that we have become desensitized to.

Popular tiktokers, such as Charli D’amelio who became famous overnight for her viral dances, are forced to put on a business persona and develop a thick skin, despite being of a very young age, e.g. Charli only being 15. Not to mention the sexualisation based on her appearance based on her choice to wear more form fitting clothing. The constant sexualisation of young artists both male and female takes away the value of these young artists and makes them more into models than creators. Something to look at rather than be able to resonate with the young people of today as someone like them rather than something to nit-pick.

For this I turn to the recent image of Billie Ellish coming out of her house wearing comfortable clothing rather than her signature baggy style. Now, I am a fan of most of Eillish’s work ( even though I don’t like bad guy- I’m sorry I had to say it) and frankly I think she is an incredibly beautiful young woman. Her music speaks to many people, including young people, they resonate with lyrics about struggles with mental health and negativity and her soft spoken tone of voice has inspired many to give it a go as well with covers of her songs or creating their own original content. Many find a voice through her music and like her are able to find their start online too (check out Chloe Moriondo – her ‘le vie en rose’ cover is… chefs kiss) . However, there have been quite a bit of instances when people would comment on Billie’s boday using phrases such as ‘wine mum body’ or even saying that she is obese. Eillish is 18 years old and comments like such damage more than her own body image and confidence, they do hurt people who look up to her or even view themselves to be similar-looking to the young artist.

And that my friends is what is disgusting about the sexualisation of young Artists.

Many can chalk this behaviour up to be the work of supposed internet trolls but I feel it goes beyond that to the ground view of how we’ve seen someone once they begin to gain attraction. This massive amounts of pressure led many of these young people to be backed into a corner and due to their age they potentially have not dealt with such situations in an appropriate way. With a lack of life experience and more hate piled on top of them it makes many feel the need to take a break – a break from being forced to grow up too fast.

This begs for the question – How young is too young to be a ‘Artist’ ?

We, as young people, have more power than ever when it comes to the online sphere. We are responsible for climate change strikes, changing the way we view gender, sex and pronouns, understanding and accepting and talking about our privilege and marching with the marginalised and so much more!

 From this I have hope that in our world, we as young artists have the capacity to change the tides on how people in the public eye are seen… as just people with bodies, minds, souls who are all beautiful and create art for the whole world to see.

To all young artists – you may feel the weight of judgement on your back for who you are, but you aren’t defined by it. If you are you – your art will thrive and so will you.

As no one is too young to be something- as long as they are treated and treat themselves right.

Em x

Em’s Tip

Put yourself in your art. All your personality smooshed into one. If you can be true to yourself in your art then you may find it helps you to be true to yourself… people like authenticity and ‘strangeness’ much more than you think.

(I write about robots a lot… I wonder what that says about me? Beep Boop)

The CoVid Conspiracy (What will it mean? )

To start off. This article is NOT about how Covid- 19 is just a lie made up by the government.     

I just liked the dramatic flair of alteration for the title. Covid is not a conspiracy and please keep safe. Especially since us Young people are being blamed for the spread- No Parties, even as tempting as it seems.

Big love to all of those who are have been affected by the pandemic yet are soldiering on. You’ve got this and don’t let this grey cloud smother your blue sky- not sure about that metaphor but go with it.

Life appears to be getting back to normal for many of us with a few changes smelling of sanitizer and fogging up of glasses but it’s all to help those around us. I have been able to move back to my university in my house to start my second year. I am extremely fortunate to be able to do a combination of online lectures but also in person workshops with small numbers so I am able to have some normal and to continue my Drama degree effectively.

Despite my little bubble of normality, it is hard to forget the bigger problem that is still plaguing our theatres now. As more and more theatres close, it appears that a dream that many of us, particularly the next generation maybe slipping away. One thing I have also learnt about the younger generation is that we have more ambition to be more than any other generation. We work smarter and work harder to be a community. A community so in tune with what they are passionate about that they work hard every day to make it become a reality.  

As a wise person once said – ‘ when in doubt do what Artists do- move with the tides ’. That wise person is probably shaking their head at my terrible use, but it feels more relevant than ever. Artists have a rare knack of being able to craft their art to audiences that want to see them, despite the odds throughout history and even now. Artistic Sacrifices must occasionally be made to do this, but this is also maybe why art has been able to survive for so long.

 I look to the idea of the musical ‘Sleepless’  for an example of how theatre can work during the continuing pandemic.  First performed in April 2020- ‘Sleepless’ includes the seats are set out that several patches of seating are kept free to allow the audience to social distanced, masks are worn as well as the seemingly normal restrictions now such as one way systems, hand sanitizing stations and no snacks or merchandise. Although, for many this can take away from the experiences of going to see live theatre, this may be the new normal of theatre for a while. Many audience members have said despite these restrictions which could put a damper on the situation were not a problem, instead it shows the passion and love audiences have to just be glad to hear the music or the lines once again.

Sometimes sacrifices must be made.        

Of course, there is the worry for many theatres that despite this possibility, it is not financially stable  to allow theatres to keep running. However, we as a generation have become more advanced, so many of us can turn to another solution, a safer and alternately a solution that the older generation often turn their noses up at-the technological world.

Plays being streamed online or performed over platforms like zoom are becoming more and more common. None of us could ignore the outpour of plays the National Theatre truly blessed us with during the early days of lockdown – all for free to enjoy.

Additionally, during this time, many new companies have been springing out of the ashes of the 6 months where life had stopped to present new work too, using the online world to reach out to others as well as many using their performances as charity events to fund themselves or help their community of fellow artists.

For young people, this may be odd using a platform, we know and for some of us addicted to- however, it is also an advantage- we can continue to be that generation that work smarter and harder to change art to a new form but continue to be passionate about what you do. All around us, art has continued to be developed and loved by audiences.

This just goes to show how artists can continue to thrive in a time where things feel lost, until the cloud clears away.

I can speak from personal experience in this.

Through lockdown I have been fortunate enough to be featured in a online performance of ‘The Bacchae’ from the translation by Robin Robertson told by new Youth  -theatre company ‘StageSpace Theatre Company’.                                              

Directed by Luke McBride, the Bacchae is a thrilling retelling of classic tale told entirely over Zoom. Despite the minor technical glitch, I have felt the same amount of passion, commitment and fun from this group of performers as I would in person. To see the production coming together gives me the same thrills I have when seeing any other performances, the theatre setting or not.

Performances are on 12th / 13th of September- tickets are on www.stage-space.co.uk and all proceedings go to allow the company to continue to display the work of the young artists involved, so I hope dear readers -you have a look and feel that thrill we all miss.

I must thank that wise person for the thought on artists young and old- therefore I thank all of you.

Em x.

EM’S TIP

Join Actor Groups. Not in person but online- Facebook groups or even Instagram pages of up and coming theatre groups are great ways to find opportunities online for you to get involved or gain more experience in any way you choose.

Link to the Sleepless article-

https://www.londontheatre.co.uk/theatre-news/west-end-features/is-it-safe-to-go-to-the-theatre-in-london

An Introduction

To start off – the title of this column is technically a little fib. Considering my journey into the mystical and slightly terrifying world of the arts began in my A-level drama class at 16. Shout out to Mrs Carr with the constant energy level of someone who has drank five red bulls at 9am to hype us up.

I wasn’t a person who honestly thought that I might end up going into the arts. Yes, I did like musicals and went to a lot of them but I wouldn’t proclaim myself as a ‘theatre kid’. Although, to my friends dismay, I can talk about why I love Jesus Christ Superstar all day if I was allowed. But hey, art is subjective and my sister thinks it’s just a one big drug trip.

I always thought of the arts, in particular acting in theatre, as just a hobby and not something I would consider having a career in.  So instead I wanted to be…an archaeologist. Mainly because of Indiana Jones. Who doesn’t want to be almost crushed by a massive rolling boulder?

But there is that moment  which I believe all young people may have when they get out of school after GCSEs and they start to wonder what do they really want to do. Would they be successful in chasing a dream they have or would they rather play it safe and get, what is sadly perceived by their elders as ‘a real job’.

 Especially for someone like me who hadn’t really dipped their toe in the arts world. This made the decision all the more intimidating  and caused a lack of confidence. Those two factors hold a lot of people back from what they really want. That is a prominent problem for young people who may be around others who don’t take the arts seriously.

But the next time someone says to you that you won’t be successful in the arts industry or tells you it is not an actual job, I would advise you to say to them – ‘Are you successful in your ‘actual job’ then?’ As if they have a right to judge your career choice, they must be pretty secure in their own jobs.

What is the one thing I have learnt as a young performer? If you decide to go into the arts professionally it is a job and with the same amount of success rate as other occupations in different career circles.

This is where I wholeheartedly agree in the motion that having a degree or any level of schooling will not guarantee you a job in any industry. Your career is what you make of it. Which is not to discourage but instead to say to my young readers that you are able to have as much success as anyone else if you keep working towards your goal. You shouldn’t feel like the arts is a lost cause and I encourage all of you to put yourself out there if you are a young artist, actor, writer, dancer, musician, director, producer and everything in between.

I am now at University in my Second Year- studying theatre and drama and I don’t regret it one bit. I  enjoy my course and learn more and more every day about the industry and add more experiences to my career. Whether it be forming relationships in my drama society or finding the confidence to pursue outer projects such as playwriting and doing performances with outside theatre companies.    I believe I am already paving my way and so will you.

So, to my young readers I will leave you with this as my main introduction. Don’t give up before the race has even started- As your aspirations are valid  and can lead to  great things if you let them.

Em  x

Em’s tip:

Get yourself out there now! Using Instagram to display your work can be used as a great online portfolio if you don’t have access to websites such as Spotlight or Backstage.                                            (Although I would recommend investing in one in the future!)