Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Living the secret dream

 Heaven's Atrium!
Last year, having my individual mainline grant from The Arts Council of Wales changed my world. It opened up my eyes to the depths and reach of my own creativity and brought me home to my artistic self.
When my funding finished, I knew that I had to hold onto that space in my life to create and make and write and be ... for ME! To make space just for myself, because it is who I am and what makes me feel most alive. I learnt that it is not selfish to make space for oneself to create, it is essential.
I reflected on the year & thought back to the child me, who wanted to perform, who joined St. Mary's Players at the age of 12 and played the lead for 5 years, the school girl happy to be in drama class and to the young woman who longed to pursue drama as a career.
But my family felt it was important for me to build what they insisted was a 'proper' career to 'fall back on'. 30 years ago, things were different; there weren't courses like there are now in performing arts. Working class girls from the estate, had done very well indeed if they were offered a place to train as a nurse, and as I was offered a place to train as a nurse,  that is precisely what I did.
I don't regret that for one moment. My creativity has always eeked it's way through ...
I wrote an age appropriate intergenerational pantomime, campaign poems with other student nurses, played in a band and in the stillness of the nursing accommodation block, I wrote my little songs on my guitar.
And then, after nursing, my first degree in Behavioural Sciences, a post graduate diploma in Careers Education (ironically!) and then a Masters in Social Science & Economics ...

When I got into my late 20's, I decided to throw in the towel as Director of WISE & join the circus, going full time into the world of mainstream music ... and it was fab, I toured with amazing people and had a wild old time.
When I was in my 30's I was offered the opportunity to get involved in community arts and from that time my life has become completely immersed in this type of work, to the extent that I have developed from a person who delivered workshops in a team or individually, to a person who has been a Song Consultant, Musical Director, Artistic Director and now a Creative Director.
People say to me ... 'You're so lucky to be following your dream.' But actually, if I'm absolutely honest, I stopped following my true, inner dream when I was 19 & did as my family felt best.
What I realised after my year of the Individual Mainline Grant, is that throughout my life, I have cobbled together the kind of dream that people like me, are allowed to dream; my dreams have been constrained by stereotype ; denying my longing to have pursued what was my inner most desire, a dream that I believed was out of my reach: drama.
I always say to people, 'How do you know about the Arts if you haven't experienced them?' and I came to ask myself the same question!
What informed choices have I been making in my life about my creativity? I have learnt from the opportunities that have arisen or from those I have made happen, but with no formal training in the performing arts, how do I know that I am all of what I might be?

And it is this train of thought that led me to apply for  a Foundation Degree in Performing Arts/Drama.
I went for the interview /audition and for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was a round peg in a round hole! I was able just to be ME! And no one found that odd or strange!
The tutor leading the interview gave me the most amazing feedback and I left there flying.

She said that drama was my gift!
I could have cried! In fact I did. The one thing that had been my hidden secret dream inside my soul, was my 'gift'.  I swear I walked taller that day.
She asked me why I was applying for a foundation degree and not the MA in Drama. I couldn't believe it! I said to her that I would never have the confidence to apply for the Masters Degree in Drama. She explained that she had done the course and loved it. She felt strongly that I should apply. I thanked her, but said that I could never even imagine applying.

When I got home, she had kindly emailed me saying that she would love for me to come onto her course , but if I could build the confidence to do so, I should contact The Atrium; she sent me the details of the course and number of the course tutor of the MA,  and asked me just to ring him for a chat.
So, I took a big breath and decided that I would!
I spoke to him at length and he said he could not see me for a chat unless I applied for the course.
I had nothing to lose, so I applied, telling hardly anyone about my secret! Secret in that I would barley tell a living breathing soul, so convinced was I, that I wouldn't get in, and it would be embarrassing having to tell everyone that I had been turned down!
And then I went for the interview ...
The Atrium is absolutely stunning! The facilities are out of this world. And as part of the Masters Degree in Drama,  I can also do a module in Film ... when I saw the film studio facilities I nearly fell over!
The Theatre spaces are AMAZING!!!

I was now fully at the golden gates of my dreams, my real in-depth, personal daren't tell anyone case I jinx it dreams.
Still, I told just a tiny handful of people about the interview experience. I swear I went to bed that night holding my breath!
And then, the next morning, it came!!! MY offer!
I am going to The Atrium in Cardiff in September to study the full time MA in Drama.
I quite simply can not believe it.
Thank you thank you thank you thankyou thankyou .... I want to type this a thousand million times .... thank you thank you thank you thankyou ...
Thank you for welcoming me to The Atrium to live my dream. I will now structure my life for the next year to give 110% of myself to the MA  Drama. I am more excited than a bottle of pop!

Funny thing is, I blog and write about my life on facebook almost every day. But this special personal thing has been mine now for nearly a month without me sharing it, because it was so special to me, that I wanted to cradle it in my arms and hold it close to myself before telling the world that dreams really do come true.

Additional Thanks to:

The Arts Council of Wales & Welsh Gov.t

To Suzanne Griffiths Rees: for supporting me with my Individual Mainline Grant
To Kate Strudwick for what must have been a glowing reference.
To Katie Marx at Bridgend College for building my confidence

1 comment:

  1. good luck with everything Cheryl, I know you will succeed Richie from Ukoholix


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