Working with Stuff of Dreams has been a real treat, not least because I have been able to spend time in Norfolk, a place I am very fond of since I studied at UEA. The cast and crew are all so generous in their time and efforts, it’s such a joy to be part of.
I must give a special mention my wonderful fellow cast members particularly as throughout the rehearsal period they helped me master the perfect Norfolk accent, which was by far the biggest challenge for me on this project. The Norfolk accent is notoriously difficult to grasp, with many actors falling into the trap of slipping in to a West Country lilt, something I’m sure would not go down too well with East Anglian audiences! With a lot of practice, patience and help from cast members Joanna Swan and Kiara Hawker and my ever fabulous director Cordelia Spence, I think I have got to a point where I have enough of a Norfolk lilt , without getting trapped into using my “r”s too much, a trait that is typical of a West Country accent.
One of the best things about being involved in this production are the fantastic, made to measure costumes by the extremely talented Julia Pascoe Hook! As an actor, it’s a real treat to have a costume made that adds so much to the character. For example, one of the characters I play, Elizabeth Southgate, dresses entirely in grey for the death of her child, because at that time, grey was a mourning colour. For my other character, Hannah – the Witch of Wells, I don a black cloak, huge bonnet with a scraggly wig and a skirt the colour of arsenic, and I cannot help but feel the part.
After an intense rehearsal period spanning a few weeks, we had our opening night on Friday 3rd April in gorgeous Bungay at the Fisher Theatre. A beautiful venue! Having rehearsed in the same space, the Brew House in Pulham Market, and being used to the dimensions of our rehearsal space, we realised quickly that we would have to adapt the spacing of the show to the generous size stage at the Fisher. It took us a while, especially trying not to get trapped in the black curtains as we attempted to leave the stage in the dress run!
As any actor will tell you, there are always things you want to improve during a run of a show but for the first performance in front of a packed audience, I was delighted with how it went. I had wondered what the reaction would be to the switch in tone from the black comedy moments to the real seriousness of Elizabeth’s loss and ultimately the price Kat and Fanny pay for their actions. The audience laughed in places we hadn’t even thought of and seemed to be with us the whole way through, responding as I hoped they would from our work in the rehearsal room.
I am very excited for the rest of the run and would like to thank all of our audiences for their support for this very special theatre company.