I’m a Blackpool based writer and actor, and grateful to be in the creative arts right now. Despite the extreme feeling of loss we all have at the closure of theatres due to the current pandemic, and who knows when and if they will all reopen, I am glad to have my own creativity to keep me sane.
In March I knew, being in the high risk category from Covid-19, I would be shielding for the foreseeable future. So I contemplated how to use this peculiar freeze frame of my life. How could I adapt my skills and keep going in these strangest of circumstances.
Summer 2019 I was commissioned by Blackpool based arts organisation, Aunty Social, to develop a storytelling project for Big Pier Day with the theme ‘1950s Seaside’. I invented the character of Violet, wrote nostalgic stories about traditional seaside holidays and performed them at the end of the North Pier one glorious day.
I decided it was possible to go online with this project. I imposed weekly deadlines on myself, disappeared into my back bedroom/office/tvstudio and wrote new stories for the best part of three months. (I’m still in here!) Each week I have dressed up in costume as storyteller Violet, and performed my stories live on social media from my spare room.
To my delight the stories appeal to all ages. Aimed at children aged 4 years upwards, they have attracted not only loyal regular watchers of parents and children, but also gathered momentum amongst older people. There have been many regular viewers who have no children in their household! Ages range from three years old to two most loyal and regular followers in their eighties. They said that they have looked forward the stories during lockdown to cheer them up in such difficult times. Another, living on her own, working from home has said the stories are high spots in her week when she finishes work after a long day in isolation.
The stories tell the amazing seaside adventures of three siblings, Billy, Lily and Tilly, when staying at the seaside with their Aunt. Set in the 1950s traditional seaside holidays, the stories have a nostalgic quality with added magic and fantasy where anything can happen.
With such a pile of stories so I published a collection in paperback for people to read themselves. My friend and artist, Francis Charlton, generously offered to design the front cover and after overcoming technical issues of scanning and formatting, we finally married the cover with the text and at the end of May my book, Wish You Were Here Seaside Stories, containing eight of my original stories, was published and is now available to order on Amazon. It was a proud moment to look back over such a short time and see what I had achieved.
After three months, I’m now taking a few weeks’ break but plan to come back with a second series and to publish a second volume of stories.
So I am thankful for a creative mind and a determination to make good from adversity.
You can find all the videos of my live storytelling on my Facebook page.
My book, also entitled ‘Wish You Were Here Seaside stories’ is available on Amazon for £6.99.
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