Archives for posts with tag: Youth

I’ve been listening to Joe Stilgoe’s album ‘New Songs for Old Souls’ on repeat* this week but there’s one lyric in particular that keeps on jumping out at me and it got me thinking – with a theatrical spin of course. In his track ‘Roll’ he says that “youth is wasted on the young” and even at my tender age I often wish I could go back and squeeze more out of my youth. I know, I know, some of you may be mentally (quite vigorously) shaking me right now saying “YOU ARE STILL YOUNG, WOMAN!” but I’m talking childhood/teenage years here. Youth is definitely something we all take for granted. It’s the ultimate never-knowing-how-good-you-had-it-until-it-was-gone scenario. Childhood was the best wasn’t it!?

*I seriously mean on repeat. I listened to it all the way home from work and I’m still listening to it. I just danced to my kettle, danced whilst making a cuppa and danced back to my laptop. I defy you to resist the jazzy goodness of that album. Please note: I’m not being paid to advertise it. It’s just that good.Trust me, you need it in your life.

Childhood is something we grow envious of with age. We get nostalgic for those carefree times and ultimately start resenting the present with all of it’s real-life, real-time problems. Having recently fallen back into the joys of actors funemloyment it would have been so easy for me to feel that way. However, I consider myself very lucky to have just spent the last 5 months working alongside endlessly energetic, lovely, talented kids. They’ve put a spring in my step that I can’t seem to shake. Seeing kids do the same job as you (or doing much more that you in the case of the Von Trapps vs. Nuns) but miraculously never tiring and loving every second is infectious. They were a burst of inspiration daily – both before the show and during. Granted, my track in the show had very little cross-over with the Von Trapp gang but as a consequence one of my favourite parts of the show was the party. Whilst Maria and the Captain were Landler-ing their way into eachothers hearts we’d all be out on the terrace and the kids would lift spirits and always make me crack a smile (perhaps because they named me and my hubby the very appropriate names of Colin & Shaniqua…). They never suffered on matinee days, they don’t want it to be Saturday because that means they won’t get to do it the day after and they live for every second. That’s how, when as kids we decided we wanted to become actors, we always thought we would feel and it’s exactly how we should be. I feel very lucky to have had that drilled into me by three teams of exceptional youngsters leaving me with enough mojo to keep me going until 2017 at the very least.

However, I understand that orchestrating being cast in a show with kids perhaps isn’t the easiest way to give your spirits a lift. Luckily, I’ve found something that is equal – if not better – soup for the stage-driven soul.*

*side note: if you haven’t read any of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ books you really should. They’re just that.

Instead of working alongside them, you just need to go and watch talented youngsters absolutely smashing a professional production out of the park. It will either inspire you or give you a good kick up the bum (“they can do THAT and they’re HOW OLD!?”) but either way you’ll feel better for it and you’ll want to get up and get at it.

You could go and see Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (unfortunately you’ve just missed The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and the hauntingly good performances from the girls in The Nether) but there’s one show in particular that, in my opinion, is guaranteed to revive your childhood spirit. You need to go and see Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about kids pretending to be mobsters that just tickles my funny bone beyond belief. I’m pretty sure that I grinned from ear to ear from start to finish. Firstly, it is ridiculously heart warming (sure there’s gang warfare but it’s ANGEL DELIGHT) and they resolve to all get along and give out love on the understanding that it will all come back around. Yes, yes and more yes to that you mini mobsters you. Add to that the most talented group of kids (nay, I could even say cast – you won’t believe the calibre until you see it) I have ever seen and you’ve got a surefire, life-affirming, energy-inducing hit. You’ll be propelled from your seat (initially for a standing ovation, then) with your new found enthusiasm for life and the industry.

I know that’s high praise and a lot of hype from Ridout over here, but I really don’t think it’s out of place. Those kids (and kidults in the cast) will astound you and they’ll make you believe, all over again, that you can be anything that you want to be.

“Think about it, says cast member Isaac Gryn, 16: “We all stand there singing to the adults in the audience: ‘You don’t have to sit around complaining ’bout the way your life has wound up.’” It’s a call to arms – just as long as they only shoot Angel Delight” – from Matt Trueman’s article, The Guardian

Remember, the creative adult is the child who survived.

Happy recapturing your youth and, if you know what’s good for you, watching Bugsy Malone!

Baby Rids thinking she could be anything that she wanted to be.

Baby Rids thinking she could be anything that she wanted to be.

“I won’t take no for an answer, I was born to be a dancer”

– Rebecca Ridout

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In true theatrical style, let’s start at the very beginning.

Firstly, let me explain the title of my blog. Whilst in my final year of training at the London School of Musical Theatre (from here on in I will use the acronym LSMT) I got a reputation for always having the answer to any kind of theatrical trivia question. A phrase soon came about stating “When in doubt, ask Ridout” and it caught on pretty quickly. Inspired by this I then used it as a way of getting people to pronounce my name correctly (when in doubt, its pronounced ‘Ridout’) – two birds with one stone: a nice little nerdy reputation and a correctly pronounced surname! Then over the course of the year the questions that were asked of me developed from musical theatre trivia to…well…absolutely anything. You name it, I was asked it.

Therefore, I think “When in doubt…Ridout” captures exactly what I want this blog to be (questions about my life answered) However, I’m still unsure as to what content will fill it on a fortnightly basis! Sometimes it will be an insight into the highs & lows of being a new graduate, sometimes it will be me needing to tell you all to read/watch/listen to something and sometimes it will just be a way for me to let off some musical theatre themed steam. I hope all of the above will be worth a read though! It may occasionally be an inspiration and it may occasionally have the ‘Jeremy Kyle’ effect of making you feel better about your own situation (even if its a case of schadenfreude at my expense) but that’s all it needs to be.

So here goes everything. My first experience of highs and (a very big) low since graduating.

On my first Monday morning as a graduate I had what you could call an exceptionally good day. I signed my contract with my agency, I went to the Tate Modern with some of my best friends pretending to be oh so cultured and finished the day drinking wine and rubbing shoulders with half the cast of Downton Abbey at Spamalot’s after show drinks for Hugh Bonneville’s debut. I felt pretty damn jammy. Life continued like this for two blissful weeks whilst knowing I was soon to start rehearsals for National Youth Music Theatre’s (from now on ‘NYMT’) production of ‘West Side Story’. High after high after high watching friends smash their professional debuts and thinking “that will be me soon enough” Then on the 3rd of August I lugged my suitcase (with pilates foam roller in hand) across London to head to Kent for rehearsals.

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Now I could write an entire essay on what an incredible experience ‘West Side Story’ was and what it meant to me as a performer. I won’t here though. If you’re interested though you can scroll back through my twitter (@beccaridout) and see what was happening and how blissfully happy it made me. My friend Amy replied to my tweets saying “Oh, are you enjoying your West Side Story experience then Rebecca? You should’ve said” and if you already follow me on twitter you’ll know exactly what she means. I was an incessantly happy tweeter. So I won’t bore you with it on here too!

The Saturday night performance of ‘West Side Story’ has now become what I’d like to call my “patronus moment” (just in case you aren’t a Harry Potter fan I mean one of the strongest, happiest memories you can recall). I was stood on the top of a shipping container on our incredible set and as soon as Amara said “Te adoro, Anton” I felt the vibrations of our 33 piece orchestra play out the closing chords of, arguably, the greatest musical ever written.

I think this photo shows how unbelievably elated I was – look at my little beaming face.

That was the ultimate high. In true dramatic fashion I do fear if it may genuinely be the ultimate high of my career. Not because I feel that my career won’t move onto bigger things than an NYMT production but rather because West Side Story is my favourite (and as previously stated, arguably the best) musical. It was a unique site specific production where we (or rather the creatives Nikolai Foster, Drew McOnie and Tom Deering) re-invented a classic. I can’t put it quite as eloquently as Mark Shenton did in his blog for The Stage so I’ll share what he thought:

“The joy of Drew McOnie’s work is that it is classically inspired, just as Robbins’ was, but also pulses and shimmers to its own distinctive vision, beautifully displayed by this eager young cast. There’s rawness and eagerness, vigour and danger in every step they take, and re-make; the usual critical language of dubbing it bold and breathtaking just won’t do. Instead, it does something even more vivid: it makes you look at the whole show in a new way.”

It really is going to be difficult to top that patronus moment I tell you!

Then after the high, as much as I tried to fight it, came the low. Hungover, I was driven back to London the following day (not helped by the bumpy road surfaces for miles stretching out of Manchester. I shudder at the memory) and BAM. Reality. I had a life admin to-do list as long as my arm and an insane amount of washing. I was no longer singing about a glorious place for us all or needing to have a dance off with someone over a small tiff. I had post-show blues. Then to add to this, on my kitchen table there was a letter from my school – it contained my diploma. Instead of being thrilled with my result I realised I had not mourned my loss of training because of the hiatus (remember? those two blissful weeks?) between graduation and ‘West Side Story’. These post-show blues then spiralled out of control because of combining with post-school blues. Ouch.

It’s been an emotional couple of days with tears springing out of my eyes at the most inappropriate moments (namely when I hear the words ‘somehow’,’someday’ or ‘somewhere’) However, as I learned from Uberfacts on twitter this morning: “Crying is good for your health – Flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.” I’ve medicated my broken heart with 3 trips to the theatre in as many days, spending time in the sunshine and probably most significantly starting this blog. Rather than sitting down and thinking “I have nothing tangible in the future to look forward to” I’ve been thinking I have a great expanse of unknown in front of me in regards to my career and, to quote my favourite composer*, I am ‘excited and scared’ to start exploring it.

*I won’t say who it is, I’m hoping you’ll guess.

If you’ve got this far, thank you so much for reading this. I hope you return. Who knows what the next fortnight will hold but that’s the beauty of the industry. I guess any lessons from this experience to any newly graduated performer is to make sure you deal with any ‘no more training’ emotion before you may have to face post-show blues! Make sure you have tissues and friendly faces waiting for you when you return to normal life and if you’ve been away on residential have plenty of washing powder stocked up!

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Then when you’ve finished posing in front of a poster for a production you’ve just been in, giving it your best ‘sad face’, dust yourself off and step leap towards the next opportunity.

“Hold my hand and we’re halfway there, hold my hand and I’ll take you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere…”

– Rebecca Ridout