My local community theatre, The Wharf, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 lockdown. Like arts and music venues across the country, the future is uncertain, and for now box-office income has halted completely.
The Wharf launched a JustGiving campaign, and knowing there must be an archive of photographs, I offered to create a video-montage to show off their best work and promote the campaign across social media. It was great fun to go through the photos of a huge range of different shows - and really hard to pick out some key ones for this video. I favoured 'action shots' over posed photos, and those that packed an emotional punch (fortunately, there have been some talented photographers involved over the years).
Using the campaign press-release, I wrote a voiceover script to highlight the need to raise funds, and to encourage people to give generously. It felt special to lend my voice to a local campaign that I really believe in, and I think that passion comes across.
Creating and voicing this has been a lockdown-highlight for me, and so far the JustGiving campaign has raised over £9,000.
Our world has flipped 360. It's only shocking that we didn't really realise it was coming. While my family in Italy were already in isolation and sending us 'le regole' of the Italian authorities, we were weirdly nonchalant about the whole thing, in hindsight.
Like illness and accidents, we can only imagine it happening to someone else. Or maybe it's simply inconceivable that life could actually grind to a halt. But now it has. I live in the centre of Devizes, a pretty market town in Wiltshire, and over the last week the dog & child have used the market square car park as a playground. It's empty. Almost every shop closed. Pubs dark, their Mother's day and Easter-lunch signage now looking incongruous and sad.
However I feel I'm one of the lucky ones. All the things that, for me, have been a challenge in voiceovers: the lone-working, isolation, communicating via the web for everything... are now its great plusses. How strange! With professional studios closed, home studios are suddenly in demand, and enquiries increasing.
I've even had agents knock on MY door! These really are strange times...
I'm counting my blessings as I record phone greetings that inform clients the offices are now closed. I'm grateful to play a part in social media videos sharing lockdown tips and Government advice. A genuine highlight has been joining some very big names in the industry for this:
You may not know their names but, from X-factor to Big Brother I think you'll know some of these voices! This has to be one of the most impressive examples of remote-working - recorded by Voice Actors in home studios across the UK, edited/animated remotely by different individuals, and brought together by the inspirational John Calvert of AirForce under #VoiceoversUnited and #keeptalking. Can you hear my phrase?
In these strangest of times, joining forces with others to produce something positive means so much. Many of us find ourselves doing things we never dreamed of right now, or re-shaping our working lives/businesses to enable life as we knew it to (sort of ) continue. I wish you luck, as well as good health, in the weeks and months ahead.
May we all get through this together - even though apart 🙏🏻
When I’m not at the mic, I’m probably on the mat. Yoga is a big part of my life, and I’ve been teaching it in a variety of settings since late 2012. I first encountered Yoga at theatre school in Cornwall almost 30 years ago. I remember the long, elegant limbs of our movement teacher, Serena, slipping into ardha matsyendrasana – a seated spinal twist. That was my first yoga pose, and it has remained one of my favourites.
I immediately loved the deep all-over stretching that is unique to Yoga. Practising the poses seemed to open a door to me to explore my physical self and the possibilities of movement. These became important tools to me as an actor.
Yoga is about coming home to yourself. You can try and treat it as a series of movements, purely physical exercise but you probably won’t get far. Holding poses requires breath control and concentration and this in turn leads you inwards. It’s hard NOT to become more aware of your inner workings, your thoughts, feelings, as well as your physical self.
This kind of self-awareness, this slowing-down and spending time with yourself is so healthy for those of us who put our souls on the line for a living: artists, actors, writers, dancers, musicians, photographers, singers…
As a Voice-actor, as much as I try and convince myself that my work is just a recording, purely audio, it’s not me….it’s pretty hard to NOT feel that a little piece of Helen is out there in mp3 form(at). It reminds me of the saying that once you’ve had a child there will always be a little bit of yourself walking around out there in the big bad world.
It makes you vulnerable.
Because our performance or creative work draws on our very selves, our experiences, our inner wisdom. You can’t detach from your inner life and expect to give a meaningful creative offering. Rather, you have to use that experience – together with technical skill – to create an honest, inspired one.
'Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about
who you are' ~ Jason Crandell
Yoga seems to provide nourishment for the creative's soul. It’s like a topping-up, a recharging system. Whilst any physical exercise makes us feel good and releases the endorphins, yoga is not only toning and stress-relieving, it’s also nurturing. Or rather, it shows us how to nurture, enables us to self-nurture.
This is valuable not just for the creative spirit but also for the business owner. In the freelance self-employed world, it’s easy to feel disempowered and spread-thin. Will I be chosen? How do I get more clients? Did they even listen to that audition?!
Having an internal support system - self-esteem, confidence and belief, is essential if we are to withstand the ever-shifting sands of the creative vocation. When I step onto my yoga mat, I am stepping in to myself. It allows me to feel my feelings, to release my hurts or frustrations, to hear my mind (and all the tricks it can play) and come to a place of stillness, clarity and balance.
When I step up to the microphone to give a voice-acting performance, I hope that I do so in that same spirit of balance. As it is only from that place – that place of quiet listening - that I have access to my inner well of resources. My creativity, my intelligence, and my true voice.
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