2018 – What a year!

This year is one of those that I will remember – for all the right reasons! I don’t know where to start really – I know it’s been busy as I haven’t blogged, I have barely had time to sleep – which isn’t good and needs sorting. Tonight! 2017 was a bit of a shocker as I lost my best friend – the wonder woman that was the backbone of Meladrama and always pushed me to be the best I could be. She believed in me and had started out as a student almost 20 years ago – and soon became my bessie. She realised pretty early on that I needed a kick up the backside – she believed in my dreams and made them happen, she even designed this website and would be super happy I am blogging (which she used to go on about a lot) ‘you need to create engaging content Mel – just write like you talk’….. mmmm I best not do that! I’ll be here all night.

Anyway, I was gutted and January was a slow burner, but classes were full, I was on it and optimistic. I should have sat down and gathered my thoughts and enjoyed the peace because that was the last time I had time to think! We were really excited and proud to be offered funding from the Big Lottery to run a community drama club at Sion Hub in Ribbleton. It’s always nerve racking starting a new class and I still after over 20 years of teaching worry that nobody will turn up! I didn’t need to – what a brilliant bunch of kids and I love teaching them, many haven’t done drama before and they are brilliantly talented, so raw and natural!

In our acting academy we started work on the comedy show. I love doing comedy – we put a modern and original twist on all the old sketches, the kids love it (as do the parents). Doing shows is quite exhausting, as usual we had kids drop out that didn’t want to or couldn’t learn lines – it’s so frustrating and something I am determined to tackle next year! After the comedy showcase we once again nailed all the LAMDA Acting Exams – distinction after distinction. I love teaching the private classes as you see results really quickly and I can really focus on speech and diction and projection – accents! Something that we don’t always have time to do in class situations.

All my LAMDA students are terrific – but I must give special mentions to Luella and Mia and Sophie and Lila this year – all of whom were an absolute pleasure to direct. As good as professional actors – well they are so they should be but I forget sometimes how good they are! More headshots, new talent signed up, castings, auditions – Ali Lock’s film won a BAFTA and then Lauren Corless got a DISTINCTION for Grade 8 LAMDA! Anand Lanka got through to the final for the monologue slam, and I was awarded Arts Council funding to develop and produce an industry showing of my one woman play THE SECRET at The Royal Exchange, Manchester. I worked with incredibly talented people on that and then straight after the showing jumped in my trusty little VW Fox and headed over to Bronte country to film Ackley Bridge! Yes I loved it, yes I want to go back and yes it was my favourite job ever.

While I was busy filming and performing we had some amazing guest tutors in to work with the students – and a great and informative time was had my all! I set up a CIC to empower and educate single mums and kids about CSE/CSA and received our first successful funding bid – from the Horwich Rotary to provide free childcare and drama classes across the summer holidays. Hollie and I delivered excellent but exhausting summer schools in Horwich and Ribbleton before I jumped back in the car to go and film the FA respect commercial.

My son Leo was gutted as he was dropped at the last minute – we had been looking forward to working together, however he auditioned for and got the role playing Anna Friel’s son in a new drama called DEEP WATER coming to ITV in Spring 2019! 3 months filming in The Lake Disrict has almost sent me over the edge – whilst trying to manage the school and our christmas shows and funding bids, a dog, a not as trusty car and….. I fell in love. Aw – I know. It would seem I AM indeed lovable! And for longer than 12 weeks – who knew!

I was then commissioned to write a full and brand new drama curriculum for TIBHS School in Blackburn – wow. What an honour and proof that I must know what I am doing! (I do – and I can also write without terrible spelling and the correct grammar – who knew that too?) We were also thrilled to get down to the final four in the Community Gateway Awards – we missed out on the big money BUT they very generously secured us funding for our second community drama club in Ingol which is PACKED! Well done Hollie! It’s been hectic – so many incredible memories, Leo on the red carpet was one I will treasure, Ali Lock being so happy to be back filming again on night shoots in Blackpool, Sophie Ashton just generally nailing everything – 2019 is THEIR year!

I finished off the year by hiring a van, lights and sound and producing 6 drama shows in 6 days in 4 venues – I lost a stone and my marbles. Thanks to everyone who took part, stood in, helped me set up, helped me do the get outs….. a massive thanks to Michelle’s sister Lois. Who built our set, she asked me a few times ‘have you got/built the set Mel?’….. mmm not quite Lois. ‘I’ll do it’ she said and she did. What a star. I am so lucky to know so many ace people. Thanks also to my mum – who is back in my life after several years apart, she was always my inspiration and it’s great for her to see the amazing work she did with me as a child inspiring the next generation. A massive well done to our Hollie who is in demand all over the north west as a drama teacher, I am so happy for her, we just need to see her on TV now! So that’s me. Signing off with every intention to take next year a tad slower….

The only murky cloud on an otherwise perfect skyline of a year was my annual meeting with my accountant. She said that after 15 years I HAVE to increase my prices. I think she is right. I am a bit gutted as I loved being able to say ‘my prices have remained the same for 15 years’ – but the reality is I am not getting any younger, my son earns more than me and we are worth it. I know we are – and you do, so check out the new prices and get booked in ASAP. She also told me to do a big push with advertising – so at the risk of sounding like a double glazing sales man ‘ONCE THEY’RE GONE – THEY’RE GONE’ – the 15 places in each class that is!

My accountant is ace and she doesn’t believe I will put the prices up – she has told me to the last 3 years and I left saying ‘I will do’ without any intention. Well I have now – I don’t have a choice. It’s either that or I go under, and I think I look much better radiant and winning at life than crawling about in a sea of despair and regret and cheap pop! Plus I know at least 8 other classes in the northwest who don’t have trained teachers, actors, safe guarding in place, DBS checks, regular shows, the care and love we offer -and they charge 4 times what I do. ANYHOW – tarah a bit. Happy Christmas, love, health, peace and happiness for 2019 drama queens. Thanks to whoever it is up there that keeps me on the right track – I have a feeling it’s Michelle x

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