A few weeks ago, our Super Stage Manager, Jay Hirst, did me a massive solid and pointed me in the direction of Johann Hari and his interview on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast.

Jay suggested I listen and think about a blog, based on the topics of discussion:  loneliness, depression and the importance of a fulfilling work life to aid in the healing of the former two conditions and Finding Your Tribe.

We discussed that each time a theatrical company comes together to make work, we are for that time, a mini tribe.

We have a common goal, each member of the tribe is valued for her/his contribution and we succeed through self-motivation and tribal cohesion.

Within 2 minutes I was bobbing up and down excitedly, but I knew I’d need to let these thoughts percolate and write this blog at a specific moment on our tour.

Here we are at The New Vic, Newcastle Under-Lyme and that moment has most definitely arrived!!

I won’t lie, I’ve almost avoided writing this:  because nothing I could say would adequately capture the bond, gratitude and exquisite joy I have found at this theatre and within this theatrical family.

Hand on heart, if it wasn’t for The New Vic giving me a shot, (10 years ago now!), I don’t think I would have had such a rich or fulfilling career.  All the treasure I’d discovered prior to my first gig here seemed to pull together and grow beautifully under one roof.

The investment within this theatre is big – and it’s not just the acting company who gain a suitcase full of new skills. The whole building plus our glorious community develop continually, through the prolific work, which is produced here.  And it’s a two way street, it’s a conversation between creative and community about what happens on the stage, in the café, the town and the phenomenal outreach work from Borderlines.  A conversation begun by the great Stephen Joseph and Peter Cheeseman, passed on to beautiful Gwenda Hughes and currently in the hands of our remarkable Theresa Heskins.

Every member within the operation from inside out is valued.  Voices are heard, blood, sweat and tears are shared, pride is felt and fulfillment is evident.

In my history at The Vic, I’ve learned how to multi-role, flip up onto colleagues shoulders, climb silks and fly to Neverland, puppeteer, perform verbatim and new work and (perhaps most significantly, for the purposes of this blog), this is where I discovered and fell in love with Northern Broadsides.

What’s more, all of these skills have been transferable and further honed with other companies and so my tribe has grown:  from Paul Warwick’s Arabian Nights at The Vic, I went to Sally Cookson, Ali Robertson and then John Nicholson at The Tobacco Factory in Bristol, became involved with New Writing companies Unlimited and Slung Low and did rep seasons at an amphi- theatre in London and the intimate Georgian Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.

One sunny day in 2016 my agent called with the news that I was to be part of Sally Cookson’s Peter Pan at The National Theatre’s Olivier, that Christmas – my first ever contract there.  And so the skills, the tribe (and my admiration for its members), grew once more…

Weaved around these contracts were invitations back to The Vic, to work under Theresa’s direction and with a pride of warriors.  Each time the bar rose, the challenges were greater and shoulder-to-shoulder we achieved and were rewarded by the work of our tribe.


Graft and tenacity are key, but just as important is having someone believe in you.  The New Vic family have been my champions for a decade, I wouldn’t have this career, which I adore, without them.

The people: stage managers, actors, musicians, tech team, designers, directors, lighting, sound, wardrobe, administration, box office, marketing, casting, café, bar, outreach, youth theatre, audience, community, chief executive and artistic director – All play a part in this tribe.

Right now, there is an exhibition in the town centre, charting the history of Circus from the days of Philip Astley, born in Newcastle Under-Lyme and known as The Father Of Modern Circus.  His troop championed performers from all over the world; they spilled out and around the country delighting working families and royalty alike.

The New Vic spills out to its local people and to towns and cities beyond, in much the same way.  Creatives and audiences come from all over to be part of its magic and its vision and you feel history resonant in the theatre itself.

Another prime example took place yesterday, when our Vicky Brazier pulled together an extraordinary group of people who in some way have been affected by or were curious about Parkinson’s Disease. Once again the building and theatre opened its doors and allowed an intimate, painful and little understood topic to be discussed within its safe and sacred space.


Yesterday also marked 30 years since legendary Lis Evans Hesketh, began her tenure at the The Vic.  Progressing from prop maker to resident designer, within that time she has not only made beautiful theatre but also been a mother of 3, now remarkable young women.  Sitting opposite her in the café I was struck by her history and how intertwined she is with this building and all its layers and shades which are evident in her designs and her own unique and generous spirit.

Lis told me that Peter Cheeseman deliberately designed this building with windows all around.  His hope and vision was to let the world in and encourage an intrinsically good, talented, outward-looking staff and audience into the space.

When you are in touch with your own intrinsic values i.e. living a life and doing things because you want to do them and not driven by extrinsic or material success, you are 3 dimensionally giving back to the world and it shines its wealth back on you.


Recently, a friend and colleague imparted some words of wisdom to me about Love.  Love is two people, standing back to back and looking outwards at the world. Allowing each other to develop together and apart.

Imagine what could happen if a whole tribe of us stands back to back.  Imagine what can be achieved….