Tag Archives: skills

From Page to Stage (via Rage) – a GIF Guide to get to the Fringe

Hello, lovely reader.  How’s everything with you?

I must apologise for my prolonged absence – this is about 20% due to a bit of a confidence crisis, 10% due to laziness and 70% due to being completely brain-swamped by Tumbling After, the fabulously physical show that I’m taking to the Edinburgh Fringe this year with RedBellyBlack Productions.

It’s a gorgeous show that combines all kinds of ideas and disciplines, but as a devised piece it’s been an enormous (and welcome) challenge.  Everyone’s journey from page to stage is different, and the great thing about the Fringe is that you can take almost any performance genre imaginable up there and find a receptive audience.  Comedy, theatre, spoken word and performance art (and every other sub-genre and hybrid of those) show up on the Fringe programme every year.  Isn’t it amazing that the arts hold so much variety and such a wide range of skills?  (I’M TALKING TO YOU, CAMERON, YOU UNCULTURED SWINE.)

Ahem.  Sorry.  Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed about getting ready for the Fringe this year is that, no matter which genre or sub-heading you’ve picked for your show, you go through a lot of the same stages:

Realising that your show idea is actually pretty darn good

Realising how much work this great idea is going to need

Refusing to acknowledge the huge amount of stress on the horizon

Getting into the swing of it

The first time you really and truly force yourself to look at the budget

The second, third and fourth time you look at the budget

The amazing moment when you can see how it’s all going to work

When the first cast/production team member cracks up

When it’s YOUR turn to crack up

Realising that you’ve only got a few weeks left

Still knowing, even after all the stress, that your show really is a great idea.

If you’d like to know more about Tumbling After and the magical mischief we’re getting up to, search #TumblingAfter on Twitter – there are lots of ridiculous photos and short videos to enjoy.

Have a cracking Wednesday!

Getting Confidence Without Having to Teach Seven Kids

raw_file_url

Hello, dear reader!  How’s your Tuesday so far?  Surprisingly amusing, I hope.

Today I’d like to talk to you about confidence.  All sorts of things can knock our self-esteem sideways, and sometimes we might not realise how much of our oomph we’ve lost until it feels too late to do anything about it.  Whether it’s a soul-destroying job or a bad break up, we all go through things that can leave us feeling diminished.

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ nun-turned-governess attempts to overcome her own confidence issues by literally singing herself into self-belief.  While I appreciate that marching through the streets of Salzburg with a guitar and an enormous hat might have its psychological benefits, I’m not sure how practical that course of action is for most of us.  Let’s find a slightly less extreme way of battling our blues.

First of all, confidence is – and forgive me for getting a bit theatre-ish out of context – a huge piece of performance.  Some people who seem confident aren’t actually feeling too great about themselves, which is why we tend to respond negatively to arrogance: we can vaguely detect a whiff of bullpoo beneath the boasting.  Having said that, putting on a show of confidence will inevitably lead to you feeling better about yourself.  After all, if you can convince people around you that you are something special (which you definitely and truly are), then you will eventually manage to convince yourself.  We should act confidently but not arrogantly, basically.  Confidence comes from reality and arrogance comes from misplaced wishful thinking.

Secondly, take the time to be proud of yourself for things that you’re good at.  Something as small as making the perfect cup of tea or being especially good at opening tricky jars is still a point in your favour.  It is silly at best and damaging at worst to dismiss your virtues as “only” this or “not as good as” whatever.  A talent is a talent, so don’t discredit yours.  I guarantee you that for every seemingly insignificant skill you have there will be a hundred people who are desperately envious of it.

Thirdly, listen to people who compliment you (unless you can sense that aforementioned scent of offensive falsehood, in which case put your hand over your nose and back away slowly).  People who know you and love you don’t say nice things about you for the hell of it: they want you to see yourself the way they see you.  I know for a fact that I have become more confident during the past few months, and that my friends have been pleasantly surprised by my reduced (only incrementally reduced, but still reduced) tendency to beat myself up over stuff that doesn’t matter.

Next, don’t let the little things get you down.  One bad date or one failed job application does not take anything away from who you are.  Hundreds of bad dates and thousands of failed job applications doesn’t make any difference, either.  Just because some people don’t recognise what you are capable of does not mean that you aren’t good enough.  After all, you know yourself a lot better than these people do, so who are they to make you doubt yourself?

Finally, understand that everyone is battling with the same self-doubt as you are.  The wise-cracker at a party who has everyone in stitches might be desperately unsure of ever finding love, or the perpetually popular party girl might be riddled with uncertainty about her personality being as attractive as her face.  You are not the only person whose confidence is fragile or a façade.  If you get the hang of being genuinely nice to yourself, you can spend more time telling the people you love all the nice things that you appreciate about them.

In fact, go and do that right now – tell a friend or loved one something that you like about them.  Hopefully it will kick-start a truly marvellous Tuesday.

Staying Alive

beegees_2301140c

Hello there, you valuable member of society!  How’s it going?

Yesterday was my first in a two-day training course in paediatric first aid (or PFA for those in the know, darling).  It’s a strange experience, because it combines something incredibly important and worth knowing (i.e. how to save a life.  Thank you, The Fray) with something quite amusing: twelve strangers in a room spending all day pretending to resuscitate the world’s creepiest doll.

First aid is truly vital, and ordinary members of the public save lives all the time by knowing its procedures.  I am truly grateful to have this opportunity to learn more about it, and I only hope that if I am ever in a situation where I need to use my newly-found skills, I will be able to stay calm enough to remember what the heck I’m supposed to do.  Having said that, yesterday’s training gave me several moments of amusement, and I would like to share a few of them with you.

Firstly, the trainer was a lovely woman who was clearly very passionate about her work, but she was also pretty odd.  For example, she was explaining the importance of sensory perception when approaching a patient: “what can you see?  Blood, perhaps?  What can you hear?  Is their breathing a bit shallow or too quick?  What can you smell?  Maybe they’ve been sick.  What can you feel?  Are there any swellings or possible broken bones?”  All very sane and sensible advice, you might think.  Absolutely.  But the poor woman ruined her point by adding in the serious, long-suffering tones of someone who has genuinely had to deal with this scenario before, “Not taste, though.  That’s the only sense you mustn’t use.  Never taste your patient.”

Secondly, as you may already know, current thinking on CPR is that you should give thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths, and the compressions should be in a tempo of 100-120 compressions per minute.  Roughly speaking, this is a similar tempo to the Bee Gee’s hit Stayin’ Alive, which is a bit tongue in cheek, but makes it pretty memorable.  The only problem with this handy hint was that every single person in yesterday’s training session almost failed the CPR section, purely because we kept humming the song to ourselves and losing count of how many compressions we’d done.

Last but by no means least, our trainer was also one of those people who has some verbal peculiarities.  Some of them are the kind that would usually drive me up the wall, such as saying “pacific” when she meant “specific”.  However, there was one oddity that endeared her to me forever: when lecturing us on the importance of abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich Manoeuvre),  she kept referring to them as “abominable thrusts”.  I am ashamed to say that I had to excuse myself more than once to go and have a giggle in the corridor.

So, having unsuccessfully reassured you that I’m mature enough to save lives, I will go back for a second day of training and hope for better things.  You have yourself a merry little Wednesday.

People Love You (And You Don’t Have to Forward Them Anything)

Good morning, lovely reader!  How are you?

Aside from the funny videos  and viral memes that make the rounds on Facebook, there are also several people who make the effort to distribute positive, heart-warming material.  These can be adorable photos of small children and puppies, faith-in-humanity restoring tales of human heroics, or even a simple “I love my friends” status with said friends tagged and made aware of their awesomeness.

When I was a teenager and email messaging was starting to become popular among my social group, we also used to send each other chain emails: “You are a precious butterfly.  Send this email to 320 other people and you will get your wings in seven days”  You know the sort of thing.  I never did get my wings.  Bloody Royal Mail.  These emails were (and I suppose still are) sent by people who have the best intentions in the world, but they’re not very personal.

One email that you might also remember was basically a long list of nice facts that supposedly applied to everyone, and had been compiled in order to make anyone who read the email feel better about themselves: “someone loves you”, “someone is grateful for the help you’ve given them”, “someone thinks about you every day” and so on (and on and on and on).  These are all perfectly lovely things, and I do hope that they’re true for all of us.  But they are a bit too vague and a bit too grandiose, so I thought it was about time for an updated, more specific and slightly more down to earth version:

1) Someone always wants you on their team
Board games, pub quizzes, video games or even actual sports: you in particular are known for being good at something, and someone always thinks of you when they have to put a team together.  Your unique set of skills and knowledge make you invaluable to that team, whether you’re trying to win a round about anagrams or running around a field with a stick. (That’s how you play hockey, right?)

2) Someone brings up anecdotes about you at parties
Not in a mean way: in a fond way.  In the way that explains something central about your personality to the people at the party, or reminds the group of an absent friend who’s sorely missed. Cases in point: my house mate once commented that Wales were doing quite well in “the Four Seasons” when of course she meant the Six Nations tournament.  Another friend from university once re-enacted the Stations of the Cross using a Wetherspoons burger, chips and a lot of ketchup, and we bring that story up whenever we’re all together, because we haven’t seen him in yonks and we miss him.

3) Someone always thinks of you when a certain song plays
There are so many songs that make me think of specific people.  About ten of my favourite songs make me think of my friend Becca, who introduced me to lots of excellent music in our first year at university.  I can guarantee that certain songs will remind people of you, and you’d be surprised by how much good stuff comes out of seemingly inconsequential things like that.  For example, writing this one has made me realise how much I miss Becca.  I’m going to ring her when I’ve finished this post.

4) Someone enjoys how ridiculous your friendship is
Everyone has at least one friend with whom they act slightly strangely.  In-jokes, silly voices and strange traditions abound between old friends.  To be perfectly honest, I’m struggling to think of friends with whom I don’t have slightly odd habits: for example, one of my oldest friends and I like to make macaroni cheese together, and we have a song about it.  That’s right.  It’s called “We Love the Macaroni Cheese”.  There may or may not be a dance that goes with it.  ANYWAY, the point is that with true and loyal friends it’s ok to be a teensy bit insane, and the knowledge that we can’t behave that way in public makes us all the more appreciative of the people who allow us to be a bit weird.  Have you seen this?  This guy knows what I’m talking about:

tumblr_n0i25wxExy1qkliv0o1_1280

5) Someone walked past you today and thought you were fit
That’s just common sense.  Look at you; you’re gorgeous!

Have a brilliant day.  May your lunch be unusually delicious.