I started to write this blog when it was still 2021 but I couldn’t find the words so I left it alone. I have now returned as it feels like this last year is far too important to go unmarked.
It’s hard to comprehend the difference between right now and a year ago. The studio was known as “the outbuilding”, it was derelict and surrounded by piles of mud and the rest was simply a concept - no website, no booking system, no logo. I couldn’t even begin to imagine that it would actually be something, let alone what it actually is. There are wonderful actors/humans in my life now who I hadn’t even met yet. I hadn’t been white water rafting or stand up paddleboarding or even wild swimming and I certainly hadn’t danced the five rhythms. Goodness, it had been over a year since I had even taught The Meisner Technique! Almost everything I was doing was online, including making a show and I had forgotten what it was like to be in a room with you, to hold you, welcome you with my arms open. And now I haven’t run an online class in months because I’ve been so busy being with you.
Every single day I’ve worked to recreate the balance of being a mum, teaching, coaching, running a business, building a new one and managing, creating and designing "the build" whilst somehow also (just about) being a wife and a friend. I’ve had to integrate self care into every element of my doings so I could be mentally, physically and emotionally well enough to keep up the juggling act. Sometimes I’ve felt like I was failing (which is totally ok) and other times like I could run the world (also totally ok!).
Covid scuppered many plans. Notably (but certainly not limited to…) pushing mine and Sam Brady’s Arts Council Funded project back (and back and back). It pushed the cost of building materials up (and up and up) to 80% which meant we found ourselves in mega financial trouble as we built the studio, taking out loans we didn’t know how we would pay back. It closed down classes we had booked in and filled up. It even shut down the first Both Feet Retreat in July which was utterly devastating after everything we did to get open in time. And it’s meant that Adam has had to be working many hours at Leeds Conservatoire designing options for every scenario so he’s not been able to work with us at all.
Covid has certainly kept us on our toes.
I now have Bodlondeb Studio & Retreat here at the top of our drive in North Wales which is home to all of Both Feet’s actor training retreats. I’ve had actors travel from all over the UK to stay with me here and deepen their understanding of their craft and strengthen their relationship with themselves. Together we’ve jumped off epic rocks into freezing cold water, rafted and SUPed the white waters, slept under the stars, made fire, foraged, done scene work in the river, created showreels and shared bread. We have all changed and there are no words available to express how much richer my world is for sharing these experiences with those who have come here.
I ran weekly classes in Manchester where actors were traveling from as far as Norwich and Newcastle each week to hone their craft with us - every class a surprise.
I’ve questioned everything about my practice, who I am as a human and a coach. I am changing and so is my work and those who have been training with me have been journeying with me too - which takes real courage to move with the changing tide.
I’ve worked with James at Shift Focus to provide beautiful headshots and Fly Girl Films to create unscripted showreel scenes.
We have continued to develop my relationship with the very honest, knowledgeable and world renowned voice coach and director Barbara Houseman whom again, rocked my world and changed my work.
I taught acting to acting students in Manchester’s ICTheatre for a term.
I have teamed up with Dermot Daly of Arts Peers and offered full & half scholarships so there’s open access to our training - something we’re building into the fibre of Both Feet.
I’ve been taking 3 groups of stunning humans (and actors) through a programme I designed in 2020 using Free Writing as a tool for change. The process and people are deeply embedded in my heart and continue to change me.
I also retrained as a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner and extended my multiple brain integration techniques by training as a Master Coach. I began my journey in the Enneagram with Hen of NLP in the North and completed the Loving Your Life in 30 Programme. Developing myself as a human has been vital to my ability to keep working honestly with you.
And on top of that Adam and I have received phone calls throughout the year from actors who have ended up in dream roles in TV and theatre and accepted places at drama schools they’ve been fighting for since they were old enough. Those are definitely the best kind of calls.
The Meisner Technique is at the core of what we do but our training is not about being “good at repetition”, repetition is simply the springboard in. Our training is about offering you a safe space to really, truly, deeply learn how you do you so you can serve yourself as a human and an actor and those calls tell us we’re doing ok.
It’s cold today but the sky is blue and I am ready for you 2022.
I promise I will keep on learning and developing, questioning and challenging.
I will turn work off at the end of each work day and I will have time out each month, so I can serve myself and those around me better.
The more present mum I am, the more present coach and teacher I will be.
Thank you to every soul who has joined us, shared a part of themselves with us and helped us in any way. You are deeply appreciated.
I’m also sorry to anyone who hasn’t heard back from me about various things - I hope you can understand why. Please give me a nudge if you feel you can forgive me.
And finally... Both Feet has just turned five years old and what a way to mark how far we’ve come. Who wants to help me organise something to celebrate?!