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28 plays later 28 runs later challenge 7 ‘Expo in a position’

So today’s challenge was to write something totally crap. Like the worst thing ever, with no auto correct, typos still in, the worst possible thing.

Mine was about three runners at a marathon ‘Expo’. It was called ‘Expo in a position’. Yes. I know. Good hey? No.  They talked about running, talked more about running. nothing much happened. They talked about what colour trainers they liked.  There were some really clumsy flash backs, a contemporary dance expressing one of the characters feelings, I left all the mistakes in before corrected and then they talked about running some more. There was zilch subtext, every character expressed everything they were feeling and then the other character repeated that.

It is shite…but quite funny…but I’m  not happy about sharing it. Maybe one day if I get published with something better.

It was an  interesting prompt though as actually the harder I tried to write total shite, the more it got quite surreal, and actually morphed into a comedy sketch, so who knows, there may be a place for it somewhere.

Real running was short and sweet but I’m proud of how I’ve managed to keep it up. Not quite Eddie Izzard efforts but I’m still committed. A respectable 25 mins or so.


28 plays 28 runs. Challenge 6. 42 min run and ‘Entwined”

On the centenary of the 1918 Suffrage act, our prompt at 10 pm last night was to write something inspired by this great moment in history.

There are so many things I’d like to say about how important it was that women got the right to vote and to explore and recognise what lots of women fought for, but time was limited to 36 hours, a tight deadline. What I’ve ended up with is two teenage girls, best friends who decide to chain themselves to a railing as Emmeline Pankhurst did. They don’t change the world but they look out for each other, especially when one of them needs a pee.  Here is the play:  Entwined

I did a 42 min run and wrote the play on my phone when I stopped for a cuppa, tidying it up later at home. Should you really run every day for 28 days? I don’t know yet, but even though I was aching like hell this morning the repetition feels good for my mental health. Should you really try and write a play every day? It’s certainly a challenge. I’m just glad I didn’t follow through with trying to paint every day too: now that really would have been silly.

28 plays 28 runs Challenge 5. 30 mins and ‘Head Chef’

O.k so 5 plays in and…how many to go??!!

I thought Challenge 5 initially tricky as we were given the opening line and had to expand on it. I had no idea how I was going to make sense of the line in the context of a play, but it soon became clear that it was going to be set in a kitchen. My run was a slow steady run of around 30 mins. Legs were still aching from hill walking but it seems to help with the ideas flowing.

Here’s the play : Head chef

 Disclaimer: None of the characters presented  are based on any real people  (even though I spent a long time as a kitchen assistant hahaha) Also loving these new brooks running shoes! 

28 plays 28 runs. Challenge 4. ‘Waterloo Sunset’

Challenge Four was to adapt a story, song, poem etc into a play. I picked ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by the Kinks. Needless to say the action unfolds with Terry meeting Julie, they meet at Waterloo station, they cross the bridge and then look at the sunset.  They don’t feel afraid or have any friends ( So wrapped up in their own romance to care- this might on reflection be a bad decision if they break up). There is however a mystery Train passenger in  my version who sees Julie every day on the way to work and is not happy about her attachment to Terry…I have no idea if I’m allowed to share this play for copyright reasons as features lines from the songs so here’s the song to enjoy:   Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks

My run was the best kind or run today, with company. My mate Lex has recently started running so we did a run/walk around Malvern for half an hour and then I egged her on to run the last ten minutes without walking. My legs are aching as we’d walked all the way up and down the Hills too yesterday and my brain is hurting from trying to come with ideas, but it’s all great fun and was  a fantastic weekend.

28 plays 28 runs challenge 3. ‘Junk’

Day three is a crossover with Day four as we were away so I had to do this one very late on Friday night unable to do it on Saturday. You’ll probably be able to tell as at 12.45am I wrote some pretty bonkers stuff! But I’m allowing myself to write crap stuff….. It’s called ‘Junk’ ( And lives up to its name) but I’m quite proud of the Alien’s language which sounds a bit welsh and features Aliens and characters called Chroma, Alpha and Beta.   My run took me through the beautiful Malvern countryside, a respectable 30 mins but very slow as it’s very hilly.


28 plays later 28 runs challenge 2. ‘Zaandam’

Day 2/ Miles 2.17- 22.45 mins

Play ‘ Zaandam’


Day two’s challenge was great for me. get outside and look around. This worked great alongside of my running challenge. However, hungover and dehydrated, it was a very slow, short run and my mind worked even slower all day. Anyway, I eventually became inspired to write about a canal, in Holland and a blooming relationship between an unlikely couple! House chores already suffering hahah great fun though. No time to analyse how the running feeds the writing…yet.

Have to do no 3 tonight as going away!! ARGH!!

28 plays 28 runs. Day one. ‘Out in the field’

So I’ve  embarked on a crazy plan.

I like a challenge.  So rather than one, I’ve set myself two. Greedy? Stupid? Massive avoidance technique of sorting my life out? Probably yes to all of the above but still, it seems like an opportunity to learn and strengthen two different muscles.

I’m signed up to ‘28 plays later’ where you sign up with lots of other people and commit to writing a play every day. You get the prompt at 10pm every night and then have 36 hours to send the play in. Not content with one challenge and with no work (yet) till next month I have also decided to do a double challenge,and that’s to run too! It’s an experiment to see if I feel more inspired, confident, or come up with new ideas.

There’s probably some huge insecurity in me if I bothered to mine deep enough, about how I’ll never be good enough for anything or anyone, asking myself why I put myself through these personal quests, but I ‘d rather run and write it out for now and enjoy the act of ‘Doing’ rather than over thinking too much.  I think that’s the point. I can be very determined when I want to be ( maybe not enough to make enough money in the conventional sense whatever that is, or buy a house) but once I set my mind on something, that’s it; I’m engaged and committed and you don’t want to see me at midnight when I’m trying to finish something off.

There’s actually a third challenge in this that I hadn’t thought of and that is giving myself permission to do this. The demon part of me (even though I do bring in a small but useful income to our family life) is shouting ‘When are you going to get a proper job, when are you going to grow up, and when will you set yourself  the challenge of trying to  actually appear like someone who has finally ‘made something of themselves’ but again, what is the point of that?  That voice has been ringing in my ears for years now so I might as well just carry on.

So here is challenge no 1.  My Short play ‘Out in the field’ And underneath, my run. 4.38 miles in 43.31 mins.

Out in the field

See you tomorrow !

Little lights.

runSo having felt like I was swimming against the tide for some time and brushing myself down and starting all over again…and again and again, to my delight and surprise a little light has suddenly illuminated in the darkness.  We didn’t get the Arts council Grant first time round at the end of April but on second go after a fair few disappointed moans over coffee  we spoke to some people, put it straight back in again, our wounds licked, and hoped for  the best. And that is when we got we were hoping for. By waiting patiently and persisting.   It’s six years since I first noticed I had vocal problems, five since my right vocal chord was operated on, four since I did the London marathon and met Jo Harper,  my collaborator at a playwriting group led by  the amazing Jemma Kennedy.  Two years later  Jo and myself sat in a café catching up and  decided that, possibly, maybe, we could do something with this material and create a play based on these challenges of how a woman  loses her voice and tries  to find a way back to it.  Without the power in my voice I felt weak, useless, washed up and like I couldn’t recognise myself anymore. When you have spent so long relying on that tool not only as an expression of yourself but also your livelihood, it feels like you can no longer be yourself and  you have to re- invent a new version, one that doesn’t know what else its good at.  It was too upsetting and close to home for me to write myself and I may have played on the darkness and isolation of it all, it being one of the lowest times of my life, but by having Jo as the writer, it seemed we had found the ideal mix, I could share stories, she could bring them to life, without being too emotionally connected.  I had played with the idea around three years ago in Jemma’s class when she gave us  one of  her useful exercises where we had to write something that had happened to us, but merely the facts, without any flourishes. Jemma said that it was interesting as it’s a story of how one muscle fades and is broken but you look for another one to compensate. It went into my notebook and  there the seed was planted ready for a day when it was the right time. And this was it.We’re over the moon that we have finally got our Grants for Arts funding so that we can Research and develop our project Can you hear me running? 

me and Jo


It’s taken time, diligence, regular meetings, calls, advice seeking and workshop attending, but armed  with the right resources, we can finally make a small start on an idea. Because, weirdly enough, that’s why I went into this industry, to be creative but it seems like a luxury these days and not a given that you have room to be an artist.

Today as part of our research, I returned for the first time in five years to the ENT hospital where I was operated on and where I felt like my life as an actor was over. I met up again with the amazing speech and language therapist,  Ruth Epstein who helped me with the at times, incredibly challenging journey. I felt nervous and excited about going back but as I looked around kings cross and all the new shops and changes that have taken place in six years I reflected on how much has changed to myself too, how I took up running, took up writing, found a local job with lovely people, did still work and slowly manage to speak with ease again having had  at my worst been reduced to a breathy whisper.  Above all that, I remembered how small the kids were when I was in my ‘Have to be  silent phase’, how they couldn’t read and so communication was impossible, me trying sign to them or draw pictures to communicate. Somehow though, they came through, as they have with other challenges.

Sometimes it takes a while to be heard, especially when you feel like you’ve been burrowing underground, muffled both physically and mentally for some time. Things happen in life, major changes take place, our sense of security and hope is questioned but bit by bit you try to tend to those parts of yourself that feel broken or lost, you keep seeking out the little lights in the dark windows, painting it, writing it, running past it.. for what is there without hope? There’s sometimes a way out of feeling trapped, even if you’re  standing in the same place you were years ago. You have no choice but to look at things differently. And that’s why I’ll call this new painting little lights.

little lights


Swimming against the current.


main fish
“Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows
nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement – and we will
make the goal.”
Robert Collier
Picture on left: carrot fishLBR 2015
There are times when  we all feel like we’re swimming against the tide or current. The impossible lies ahead. We swim forward and end up back where we started, a goldfish circling it’s glass bowl round and round, heads down,  trying to attack whatever is placed in our way with a dogged determination.  You make some progress only to find yourself back where you started.
I then remembered that I was an actor and life has always been like this, it’s not new, it’s just that maybe by the age of forty three which is the age I turned this month I thought I would have created a more ‘grown up’ lifestyle by now. Maybe had my own front door without having to navigate a corridor filled with  all sorts of anxiety before reaching mine.   There  is also the fact that the Tory government sneaked back in and we’re unluckily in a ‘housing crisis’ just as we’ve decided to err…grow up and make a big change. Also my best mate ( who I’m missing like mad in New York) tells me  mercury in my  ruling sign of Gemini is cheekily retrograde again…what hope do I have, even the planets are telling me to just watch it all unfold from the side lines. Now is a time to reflect they say…reflect? I want to get stuck in, get my hands dirty, I will work so hard on a new project if you just throw one at me. So what do you do? Sit tight keep working and ploughing on and ‘wait for something to happen?’  I suppose so. Because something will. It always does.  So what’s the point in fighting it? And my head is hurting from banging my head against the glass. And there’s always the veg art. That IS making life that little bit lighter.
  I wrote a very pretentious song when I was around 17 called ‘The fairground colours have faded’  ( life is hard hey when you’re seventeen)I It featured a Goldfish who had been won at Buckley fair( North Waleans know where this is).  but who knows deep down that he faces his nearing funeral ‘ The goldfish prepares for it’s dark dismal funeral, his coffin is waiting with others abused’…yeah I know, grim, bleak, choosing to see the tragedy and not to see the ‘Wagons of copper and gold’…yep, there really were ‘Wagons of copper and gold’ in there too and ‘The sky showing stains of mould’. Some of you Youth theatre folk may remember it from around 1989. I also ‘chose’ as my art project during this period to paint images of gravestones inspired by the phrase ‘thoughts from the past’. I wouldn’t be surprised if I also had my Walkman attached to me ear listening to the Smiths. You get the idea. I’m not sure if we sang it in the rock band Legend I was in but it would have been a strong contender. I couldn’t help but think of it when this little fella appeared on my chopping board the other day ( I have to stress these are at the end of the shift and take literally moments to make.) He was very quickly made into soup the next day, no wonder he looks miserable. Anyway, the song goes on about how ‘How time is passing slowly and I feel I’ve grown old’. Really? Ah the ignorance of youth, seventeen and already feeling old. Little do we know that life races so quickly and as we get older  we’re clutching onto time, grabbing as much of it as possible. I’m so glad that I’ve developed a sense of humour over the years and that’s a great gift of getting older as there’s far more to feel bleak about now, but I can recognize how much there is to feel grateful and happy about too and I’ve learnt to try my best to see the ray of light in the darkness, the little beacon of hope. As I’ve got older I’ve also learnt to laugh at myself too as life is funny in all its dark corners as well as Technicolor ones. And also that Vegetables can be funny…Look!
 french man
French Potatoe man with onion beret 2015.
Which leads me onto those lighter shades and how I want to celebrate the community around me.  This year has proved a sad one in many ways so far. Its been tinged with loss only a breath away and I’ve seen and am seeing friends really struggling with situations that are challenging to say the least. But in the centre of this is a wonderful community who support and keep afloat people nearby.  And it seems more and more important these days to have that especially when so many people no longer live close to their extended families. We can all feel isolated at times and to know that there is someone nearby counts for more than anything. So important too to be there not just to wipe  the odd tear away ( be that from too many onions or genuine) but also those supporting other parts of your life. The amazing casting director Shakyra Dowling has managed to get me seen and  get jobs for the most fascinating projects over the last couple of years and has certainly kept the creative juices flowing in my acting career. I would have undoubtedly thrown in the towel without her belief in me. Running regularly with local friends has proved a saviour when I’ve felt anxious and haven’t slept ( due to housing problems) and to talk with them while running has helped us all feel stronger in times of crisis as well as the ones I don’t run with!  I’m lucky to work with amazing people at the step and even a massive problem that I had with this website last week has been quickly fixed by a friend nearby. We need to be there for each other in a community. It really does help those swimming against the tide to feel more buoyant.
bounds green crew runners
Oh and in other news, I’m pencilled for an advert, Time will tell movie have been busy in Cannes, I’ve entered one of my plays into the Bruntwood prize  and I’m painting….local views because I need to and can see the beauty and hope around me.
new river
New river….new painting. Onwards up stream!!

Time will tell and Sherlocked.



So here is  Ijmuiden in Holland, the location for my recent job, the feature film Time will tell. It stars the hugely talented Louisa Connolly Burnham  as Kim and I play Joanne, her Mum,  with whom she has a tricky relationship with to say the least. It’s a  gripping story of Kim, a teenager,   who tries to unravel and understand her past, switching between different times not without major obstacles along the way.  I have to say it was one of the most pleasurable, creative shoots I’ve been on in long time. Tonnie Dingens, our director made it a very collaborative process where the actors felt valued and included on decision making.  Moving away from what I call my ‘washing powder mum’ roles ( though let it be said I am hugely grateful for the adverts and err…here’s to another years buy out, bleach anyone?), I finally got to play a mother that is not a stereotypical commercial  ‘nurturer’. She doesn’t wash up. We never see her ironing. There’s maybe one tiny folding scene but not a hoover in sight. She’s complex, exposes dark corners of her soul, shows the less attractive facets of her personality and the mother daughter relationship is complicated, changeable, not something you can pin down and categorize. It’s INTERESTING. I’ve made a damn good job of looking like I care about the cleanliness of my house on the telly, but I had more in common with this character in terms of my domesticity, not the other stuff she gets up to….but then, for that, you’ll have to wait for the film, duh duh DUUUH!! Time – will – tell!  I think the film will do really well with a wide universal appeal  and hope it gets the airing it deserves. Everyone cast and crew worked bloody hard, that’s for sure. You can follow it  @TWT_Movie, or here @louisacburnham   ( Look at me getting all on it now with the self promotion etc – I have no shame.


It was also strange being away from the kids for ten days. I don’t think I’ve spent that long away from them since they were born and had to re- learn to be in my own space without demands being made. It wasn’t hard at first. Being bored in your own company is not a problem when you’ve had kids. You can kill hours wandering around an airport happier than you’ve been in ages . A delay? Oh never mind, I’ll just get another coffee. Longer delay? Never mind, I’ll go and have another look at the selection of Dutch gin in duty free ( I can recommend the orange blossom one) . Yes, it’s nice for a few days to hear your own heartbeat again and eat what the hell you like, watch what you want, and In Amsterdam on my day off, I savoured going to the Van Gogh museum again and just looking, staring, uninterrupted. But as I gazed at one of his late paintings the Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, this:van gogh


 I missed them like hell. I wanted them to see it, be inspired as I was when I first saw his paintings. I realised that the person I was who came here seventeen years ago is not the person I am now and I’m happy to be getting older and to have experienced all those things in between then and now. I’m happy with how life changes you, makes some things more important than others, how priorities shift and how I’m far less inward looking than I was then ( She says, writing a blog…look at me..look at me!). Anyway, needless to say, with them in mind, I clocked where the gift shop was having soaked up those bright colours again, and bought a stupid amount of memorabilia. A collection of chocolates wrapped in mini Van Gogh paintings , a few pencils…sunflower bookmarks, key rings, and lets not forget something for the big one too – the husband ( he’d be upset if he didn’t get something.)  He got  a print, that I secretly like, but pretended was for ‘us’ ( come on we’ve all done that haven’t we?)  I looked forward to handing over the goody bags from my adventure and imagined some soft focus reunion on the train platform. I actually had a delayed nine hour journey home thanks to great Western trains and we drank a lot of the Gin I’d bought when I eventually got to Devon, but the reunion was still special.   So  I’d  left the museum for the second time in my life, this time alone, but knowing that when I got on that plane home after  the shoot I would be returning to a place where I am very much loved, especially with a bag of chocolates…and Gin.

So with Easter fully taken up with the filming with a few days spare to clamber over the moors in Devon, my next adventure was to re visit that infamous ‘Pink Lady’ yes, Jennifer Wilson in the episode of Sherlock I did five years ago in ‘A study in pink’. I was invited to take part in the convention ‘Sherlocked’ at Excel.  I had no idea how such a small part could have such an impact and in all the years that I’ve been acting and the many roles I’ve played,  who knew that one little, dead pink lady would be in demand? I was very grateful for the work but felt nervous at what to expect, it being the first convention I’ve taken part in. What if I had to re – create my death and spend another two days admiring people’s shoes like I did with the filming? What if I felt I constantly needed to remind people that it was a bigger part that got cut? Or that my vocal surgery  months before had made my confidence plummet and this was the first job I’d decided to do after it those five years ago?   I needn’t have worried. It was one great big Sherlock love fest. I actually felt like a celebrity for 48 hours. This may never happen again. When would I ever be signing  pink suitcases again?  I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention and  of being ‘visible’, appreciated, even ironically for being ‘dead’. I’ve had to put on such a tough exterior of late so it was actually very cathartic to be greeted with huge smiles and throw an equally big one back. It must get tiring if you’re promoting all the time and meeting lots of people and having to be on form, but for me, the average jobbing actor, and  as my children will tell you, I talk to everyone anyway ( sometimes to their embarrassment)  it was genuinely good fun.

It was overwhelming how many people came and I was humbled by the huge fan base it has. It’s no surprise, as even if I hadn’t taken part in the production, I am a huge fan myself and think it has been produced, written and directed with such intelligence, humour and inventiveness. But wow! There were SO many people there and I signed loads of autographs. Once I’d got over the indignity of signing a photo of my backside in a pink coat with pale legs, I had a great laugh. I loved it when people really went for it with the costumes and had this amazing photo taken with Coslocked.

And so Monday was back to normal. And back to thinking of the next acting job. And also back to the great team at the Step restaurant where I also work. Life is diverse at the moment, that’s for sure. I’ve just had some new photos that are on this website with the Brilliant Ric Bacon that will hopefully assist in whatever the next chapter is and then I must get back to writing. We find out about our Grants for Arts funding next week for our  show, ‘Can you hear me running’ so we’re crossing everything for that.

And I think its only fitting to leave you  with the pink lady. Here she is balanced on the most beautiful flowers I was given by the team organising sherlocked.

I guess there really are no small parts…well not if you’re in Sherlock. Thanks for having me.