On Saturday, I am going to perform as the ghost of Anne Boleyn once again, and also Helen of Troy, where the audience will be able to witness my transformation from beauty to UGLY! I hope to terrify a few people. The quick change of costume and wig will be fantastic fun, and it marks another return to acting for me. More info on a forthcoming play in May, in which I am playing one of the leads in the Suffolk Poetry Festival, to follow!
Acting was my first love when I was younger, and I gave many performances, and appeared in several festivals winning medals. I’m LAMDA trained and I once won the Ironside-Wood trophy for poetry for a performance of William Carlos-Williams’ ‘I will teach you my townspeople, how to perform a funeral.’
So, I I have often pondered why I didn’t go to drama school. I initially passed auditions. I guess there’s no excuse these days, with so many opportunities to perform. In my day, it felt inaccessible – get an equity card to perform, but you can’t perform without one! Catch 22. The idea of moving to London or Manchester aged 18 or 19 also felt like something terrifying and insurmountable. As much as I pretended to be worldly wise, I think I was quite an innocent really, and I would have found it very difficult to cope. I had a lot of confidence in my ability, but no love of fellow actors (although I now know that most of the confident show biz people are anything but and usually really nice!) An undiagnosed autistic girl is very vulnerable to predatory behaviour – something I suffered from until at least age 30. So although I was a confident performer, I was shy too.
I also had a constant running battle with my love of poetry and writing, and English in general as a subject- the intellectual side of me, if you will, versus the creative side. I studied Literature fairly near to home in the end, although I lived in Colchester and I had a wild ride at Uni.
Somehow then I had a career and a family before I could blink!
I never stopped performing though. I have been a singer in bands and shows, and I was a teacher, and that too is a kind of performance. I always thought it was never too late to pursue other areas of interest and I was right! I am now a writer and It’s far easier to take up opportunities now. And so, I am back on the stage and busier than ever balancing it with my tuition, which I love.
These are the details of the Angry Ghosts show: https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/whats-on/author-talk-with-mai-black Perhaps you can make it?
Virginia: Tutor, Writer and Actor.