BLOG NO. 4 - YASEMIN ÖZDEMIR - ANGEL 2022 SUMMER TOUR
First off, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Peter Doran and everyone at the Torch for making ‘Angel’ such a special experience - I had the best time and am so grateful to work with my local theatre on such a phenomenal play. Growing up in Haverfordwest and having been part of Torch Youth Theatre when I was a teenager, to be able to come full circle has been nothing short of magic.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival - what a rollercoaster! I’d never performed at the Fringe before (or visited Edinburgh), so I was eager to soak up as much of it as I could whilst we were there. The Torch brought a double bill with ‘Angel’ and the almighty ‘Grav’; each of us going onstage one after the other. I have to say, being met with Gareth John Bale’s wonderful grin before each show put my nerves at ease! But truth be told, there was no need for nerves, as we had some absolutely fantastic audiences who displaced such genuine empathy, generosity and interest in Rehana’s story and the difficult themes of the play.
We also had the chance to perform an extract for Mervyn Stutter’s first ‘Pick of the Fringe’ during our first week there, which was great fun - thank you to Owen Thomas for organising that! Getting to be immersed in so much theatre was terrific - I got to see so many brilliant plays, comedians, cabaret acts... the range of shows was endless, and hugely inspiring. And actually getting to meet and hang out with Henry Naylor who wrote ‘Angel’ (who was up performing his new play, ‘Afghanistan Is Not Funny’) was really, really special.
Though I can probably count on two hands maximum how many vegetables I ate whilst we were there - the street food was too tempting, and the curry houses!!! We were lucky enough to pick up some glowing reviews - 4 and 5 stars across them all - which put us on a high for the next part of tour at... The Hope Theatre, London - a much more intimate venue, which changed the show a little. Being so physically close to audience members meant that we needed to adjust volumes and intensity so as not to overwhelm people too much. As ‘Angel’ deals with some extremely challenging topics and is such a rollercoaster of emotions to witness, changing tack a little with the delivery was needed so that we could keep all of the audiences engaged throughout - I know I’ve checked out mentally before now when watching shows that have just been way too intense, and this is the sort of thing we wanted to avoid as Rehana’s story is so important and deserves to be heard.
As an actor this was a brilliant challenge, and we had some really varying audiences in size, demographic and responsiveness - some were super noisy, others were engaged but not vocal - which determined which things I pushed and which things I pulled back on. Being able to almost whisper some lines and know that everyone could still hear was super effective, especially during some of the more sobering conversations between Rehana and the Commander later on in the play. Big shout-out to everyone at The Hope for hosting us - we had three wonderful weeks there, and some cracking new reviews. Now onto...
Wales and the North Tour - time to get the van! 14 venues across the month, starting with Theatr Clwyd up in North Wales, before heading to Harrogate, Dukes Lancaster, Courtyard Hereford, a week-long stint at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Lyric Carmarthen, Theatr Mwldan, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Taliesin in Swansea, Pontardawe Arts Centre, the Riverfront in Newport, Brecon’s Theatr Brycheiniog, and Storehouse Chester, before finishing up back on home soil at the Torch Theatre, coinciding with ‘Of Mice and Men’s final show and Peter Doran’s big retirement bash. A big challenge and a lot of b’n’b’s! But what a fantastic time - huge thank you to Molly for being the most epic stage manager, driving us everywhere and being such an infectious and positive energy to have around.
So many new venues of varying sizes and acoustics kept me on my toes as an actor, which was so enjoyable - it felt like a new show every night! And again, such amazing audiences and teams of people we got to work with - HUGE thank you to all the crews we met at each venue for your help and support. We had our get-ins and get-outs down to a fine art by the end! Getting to see so much of the country whilst driving from place to place was delightful - it felt like a mini holiday road trip at times! - and culminating the tour with two shows at the Torch Theatre was extra-special and a real full-circle moment.
I’m so thankful for the experiences and opportunities 'Angel’ and the Torch Theatre have given me this summer. I have learnt so much and am so humbled by the wonderful reception the show has garnered over the course of the whole tour. Peter Doran - you’re a rare one, mate. Thank you. I’ll always make sure to champion the Torch, my lovely local theatre, which gave me my start. I can’t wait to see what the future brings with the fantastic Chelsey Gillard in charge.
See you soon!
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