Saturday, 29 April 2017

My first year at Falmouth University | LittleEllieMae




I moved into Glasney Student Village at Falmouth University on Saturday 10th September last year. Eight(ish) months later, yesterday marked the end of my first year at university. Its been a roller coaster of a ride and I honestly cannot get over how quickly its gone- easily the fastest year of my life so far! Today I'm taking the time to reflect on my first year as I love to nostalgically look back on these posts and I hope somebody may find it interesting too. 


I remember being filled with so much apprehension as well as excitement before coming to university. Its a massive deal- moving away from home and leaving all your friends and family for a brand new environment is completely daunting. Luckily I'm not too far away from home, a 1.5 hour drive or 2 hour train journey through Cornwall, back to Devon is relatively easy so I didn't feel like I couldn't pop back home when I needed to. 

Cornwall has always felt homely to me as I spent a lot of my childhood over the Tamar river at Cawsands, Whitsands and Padstow. Even before moving here, Cornwall had my heart. Though initially I could've never imagined moving here as "there's nothing to do!"-  I've learnt over this past year that Cornwall is a buzzing hub of creativity and culture and there's definitely always something to do or see. On every road-trip or visit to a local beach, my friends and I are utterly amazed and grateful at what a wonderful place we get to live in.

I've spent the majority of my first year settling in to the local environment of Falmouth and Penryn- I wish I had explored more but in hindsight, its been useful to just feel comfortable for now. I'm hoping to spend my summer travelling around Cornwall a bit more to discover some new places for adventures!

I still love my campus as much as I did when I first visited the university on an Open Day whilst I was still a school student. Its relatively small and there's not many people (5000ish students across both campuses) so you will most definitely bump into someone you know every single time you leave the flat (it depends on my mood that day to whether this is a good thing or not!) The buildings are a mixture of old and new and everywhere is surrounded by fields of green- when I walk out of my flat every morning I'm greeted by a field of beautiful horses! I love that its not a city university and we are surrounded my forests, rivers and fields but its so easy to pop into adorable Penryn town or Falmouth when you need to.


In true student style, I have spent much of my first year socialising. I've never particularly been 'the party girl' but I've really enjoyed going out this year. The night life in Falmouth isn't up to the standards of a big city, obviously, and its home to the infamous Club I which has been voted one of the worst clubs in the UK but it has totally become a guilty pleasure of mine: cheesy tunes, cheap drinks and carpeted floors call for a good night out. The Stannary (on-campus bar/club) puts on really fantastic events too which have made the best nights of first year; space party, 90s party, pirate party and so many more. 

Though I find that a good night in with a bottle of prosecco (Lidl's finest) with my flat mates is just as enjoyable. As someone who has always been rubbish with card games, I've been taught the ins and outs of many and have sat through countless games of Monopoly. Nerf gun fights, obstacle courses, balloons everywhere, corridor sleepovers- we've had so many good nights in too.


The prospect of moving into a flat with ten complete strangers is terrifying. I remember the first day we met being pretty awkward as we went through the mundane questions of where you're from, what you're studying etc etc. But that first evening, we sat in the corridor and watched First Dates together and we instantly clicked as a flat. I've been extremely lucky in getting along with all my flat mates as I know some people don't. We're like a little family that cook, party and chill together and its lovely. I love that I can be totally comfortable around them all (they've seen me in my worst states..!) and it was very soon on that I was back waltzing around in my onesie again. 

Though it can be difficult living with other people sometimes when there is no Mum to help clean up. There's constant dishes on the side, the bins always need to be taken out and sometimes there's loud parties when all I want to do is sleep. I remember the first couple weeks being really difficult and I wasn't sure that I could cope with such a different living environment to what I'm used to, but you know what- you just learn to deal with it. You learn to respect each other and act like adults and it honestly becomes so much easier. I've learnt to not be so up-tight and just chill out a bit, which I think is a good thing.


I've had to grow up a lot this year. Although I've always been a very independent person, my Mum had always been there to make me dinner at the end of the day or wash my bed sheets for me. Now I'm a domestic goddess (of sorts). The first term, I lived off a lot of frozen food and Dominoes but I soon got bored of that as I watched my vegan flatmates cook the most amazing dishes at dinner time  (and my student loan quickly couldn't support drunk Dominoes orders every week!). I ditched the frozen food and started to learn some new recipes. Our flat's speciality is homemade pizza and I make a pretty insane vegetable risotto. I really really enjoy cooking now and knowing all the stuff that goes into my meals. I actually eat more vegetables now I'm at uni... weird, right?! I am looking forward to doing some more!

I think its been so good for me to be this independent. I plan to take time out of my week to bleach the bathroom (I know right- a cleaning fairy doesn't actually do it?!) and to vacuum and tidy my room. I actually really enjoy it... except from putting on my bed sheet, damn.

I feel like a full functioning adult now (sort of). Hell yeah!


I study Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management BA(Hons) and am based at AMATA- the beautiful performance centre at the university. As AMATA is home to all the performing arts and cultural production courses, the building is always buzzing with creative things going on. You'll never fail to find a gig or show to go to. It has amazing studios and theatre spaces where we hold AMATA-based performances as well as a public programme that we've had the opportunity to work on. It also has the best cafe on campus (I've been living off their mochas and toasties!) and is home to our Production Space which is my course's little haven. 

My course is amazing. I'm so lucky to love what I'm studying and its the perfect course for what I want to do in my life. We've had modules on topics including management practice, cultural production, professional development and marketing. I've generally really enjoyed all of my modules this year and I've been so interested in the subjects which makes it easier to do lots of assignments! My course is very small, with around 22 students,it makes a lovely environment to work in and participate among. Our head lecturer is possibly the coolest guy I've ever met and he just know how to work with students to keep us engaged and enthusiastic. I look forward to attending his lectures and seminars every week to hear about his new theories and quirky stories of his band on tour. 

I've undertaken some amazing work placements this year and I've become so passionate about gaining experience to help boost me in the industry. I've worked at Masterclass Theatre Royal Haymarket, National Theatre and ATG/ Harold Pinter Theatre. I've had the greatest experiences working in the city and its given me so much drive and determination to keep working hard to achieve my dream.

My course has been a lot more work than I expected, with deadlines after deadlines, but enjoying the topics and being enthusiastic about what you're working on makes the world of difference.


One of the greatest things to come out of this year is obviously my new friends. I've met so many different people with an array of backgrounds and personalities and its been fascinating. I've made such good friends from my flat, my course and just generally out and about. Its completely different dynamics to what I was used to back at home, as you're with these people almost 24/7 so you create a new kind of tight bond. Some of my friends know me better than I know myself already and I feel more comfortable than ever with them. 

I always used to be someone who likes their own company but since being at university when you are surrounded by friends from the moment you have breakfast in the morning to when you say "goodnight!" before bed, you automatically become a 'people person'. I thrive from being around people and having company- I joke that I've become 'needy' since starting university but as someone who never used to let anyone hug her, I now climb into my best friend's bed for cuddles. I think its definitely a good thing for me to become. Yay for socialising! 

One of my biggest worries before starting university was that I'd lose contact with my friends from home. They've been my rock since starting high school so many years ago and I just couldn't imagine losing them because we lazily hadn't stayed in touch, like so many instances. Thankfully this hasn't happened at all. I've been to visit every one of my friends from back home all over the country, though its taken time and money on my part, I am so glad that I did. Its so nice to see their new lives too- its a very exciting chapter of everyone's lives so to include old and new relationships in that is super important. And of course we keep in contact and have a great night out when we are all back in Plymouth!


So my first year at Falmouth University has been pretty damn awesome. Its honestly been the best decision I've made to make the move here and I know that I'm currently experiencing one of the most exciting and iconic chapters of my life. 

I've grown hugely in confidence this year and all of my experiences at university have accounted for this.

Here's to the next two years!

Ellie Mae x



Disclaimer: All photos by Geoff, check out his photography Instagram page @bpiq_



Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Wrong Side of Prohibition- Thespis Theatre Project at Tigermilk | LittleEllieMae



I, along with a group of my fellow bloggers, were kindly invited to see a theatre show, 'The Wrong Side of Prohibition' by Thespis Project at Tigermilk at The Duke on Saturday. 

Thespis Project are a theatre company based locally in my hometown of Plymouth. Being the theatre nut I am, to discover a new theatre company in our little city is very exciting. Plymouth has so much potential to be a beautiful creative hub of innovative art and Thespis Project proves that its out there with a willing audience. 

Their new show, The Wrong Side of Prohibition, is an immersive piece of theatre set in a cool, quirky 1920s speakeasy bar which aptly takes form as Tigermilk at The Duke- the ultimate hot-spot in Plymouth for exciting cocktails and smooth jazz. The piece is completely immersive, with actors walking around the tables, breaking the fourth-wall with the audience- its a truly unique and intimate experience. 

The show follows the story of Tony, the manipulative gangster owner of a 1920s prohibition bar, who stands up against anyone denying his power as he controls the team of showgirls, including a young Greek immigrant called Anna. They battle at the time of prohibition, with Tony's inevitable failing moon-shining business. The hour- long piece tells stories of forbidden love, crime and death. 

The show is completely packed with drama and the intimate feel of it all engaged the entire audience throughout. The performers were fantastic in acting in such a unique setting and really made the experience as authentic as possible. 

The piece was well received by the audience and I know that Thespis successfully sold-out their remaining performances- proving a hit in Plymouth. 

It was really nice to catch up with all of the performers for a cocktail afterwards too! The team were really enthusiastic about their work and their future as Thespis Theatre Project. 

I can't wait to see what they do next!

Big thanks to Thespis Theatre Project for inviting us along to their great performance and for Tigermilk at The Duke for hosting us.

Ellie Mae x


Disclaimer: I was kindly invited along to this event by Thespis Theatre Company but all thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. 


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Nautical Style | LittleEllieMae



On my shoot with the lovely Katherine Mcmorran we shot some photos in the harbour in Penryn. One of my favourite trends is nautical so it seemed a fitting setting for this outfit shoot! 



The nautical trend is one that never goes out of fashion. The trend dates back to Queen Victoria's (obviously very fashionable) reign as the style was said to evoke national pride and solidarity. Since then the style has continually evolved from the introduction of Breton stripes in 1930s to Westwood's pirate collection and the modern minimalist stripe inspired by Chanel.



My favourite way to style the nautical trend is to add a vintage twist. I'm a massive fan of 50s fashion with high waists and fitting silhouettes- I think its the perfect combination to mix nautical with 50s fashion! Here I am wearing striped high neck top from Primark, red high waisted capri pants from ASOS with my Clarks monochrome shoes. 





Thanks again to Katherine for the lovely photography!

How do you style the nautical trend? Let me know by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae :)

Ellie Mae x

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Embroidery Trend | LittleEllieMae



I was lucky enough to shoot with the very lovely and extremely talented Katherine McMorran last week in Penryn. Katherine is a third year Photography student at my university and we collaborated on shooting her final project as well as a look book for my blog. Catch Katherine's write up on her blog here



I wanted to shoot my favourite trend at the moment: embroidery. I've been a little bit obsessed with floral embroidery in particular for a while, taking inspiration from my favourite designer Dolce and Gabbana who nail the trend. 



Its a great trend to either go full out (like I have here) or add subtle hints to an outfit with the odd embroidered accessories. Embroidery is so detailed and adds a really interesting element to any outfit. My embroidered clothes items are always being complemented, even by random strangers on the street!


Shirt: M&S 


Shoes: NEXT


Jeans: Glamorous
Belt: Primark

Its a great trend to take from season to season to effortlessly inject some colour into any outfit. There's so much on offer on the high street and designers alike so anybody can adopt this beautiful trend! 

Thanks again to Katherine for photographing me!

Ellie Mae x

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Making West End History: TRH Masterclass runs London Marathon | LittleEllieMae


For the first time in their history, the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust (Masterclass) has been offered a place in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon.

As one of only 500 charities with the opportunity to have someone running the famous 26.2 mile on their behalf, today Masterclass has announced that playwright Poppy Corbett will represent them at this year’s marathon. Corbett holds strong ties with Masterclass having staged the West End debut of her play, Hatchling, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket as a winner of the prominent ‘Pitch Your Play’ scheme. Ahead of the marathon, Corbett will return to the Haymarket in February to host a Masterclass with fellow playwright Polly Stenham on 7th February.

Speaking about the opportunity Corbett commented;

"I've always believed in helping people further down the ladder and running the marathon for Masterclass would give me the opportunity to do so in a practical way. Masterclass changed things for me and I'd like to change things for them too."

The arts have been one of the sectors most affected by government cuts. As youth groups close and university fees go up, it is encouraging to see organisations such as Masterclass, The Lyric and Chickenshed featuring in the largest fundraising event of the year.

All of the opportunities available through Masterclass remain free for young people aged 16-30, allowing them to fully realise their potential regardless of income or background. However the only way organisations, such as Masterclass, are able to continue their work is through the generous in-kind and financial backing from our supporters.

Blayne George, Programme Director at Masterclass, added;

“We are delighted to have finally secured a place in the London Marathon and are equally overjoyed to have Poppy run for us! Masterclass stands firm as a place which will always support young people in the early stages of their theatrical career.”


For more information on the campaign, please visit the Masterclass website here or follow their updates on twitter here.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Moving Stories at Theatre Royal Haymarket Announcement | LittleEllieMae


Mel Giedroyc will host the all-star cast of ‘Moving Stories’ at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 26th February to raise funds for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Moving Stories is curated by actress Emma Manton (RSC Love’s Labour’s Lost & Much Ado About Nothing) in response to the current global refugee crisis and was first performed at the National Theatre in 2016.

Emma Manton comments on the project, "I have been blown away by the response of the theatrical community to this event. All the writers and performers have offered their services for free to show support for refugees around the world. It’s very humbling.”

Some of the UK’s finest writers have written and donated material for the event, including Richard Bean, David Edgar, Phil Porter, Michelle Terry and Jenifer Toksvig. The cast will include Adjoa Andoh (Doctor Who), Edward Bennett (RSC), James Bolam (New Tricks), Anna-Jane Casey (Mack and Mabel), Natalie Casey (Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps), Lisa Dillon (RSC), Ray Fearon (Coronation Street), Rufus Hound (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Evelyn Hoskins (Sound of Music Live), Andy Nyman (Hangmen), Caroline Sheen (Mary Poppins) and Zubin Varla (Dara). All appearances subject to availability.

All profits from the performance will be donated to the UNHCR to provide much needed support and assistance to refugees caught up in the current global refugee crisis – the most overwhelming since the Second World War. 

Catch this wonderful event, showcasing exciting theatre pieces as well as supporting the UN Refugee Agency charity at the Theatre Royal Haymarket at 4pm on 26th February. Tickets, priced from £15, are available from the Theatre Royal Haymarket box office- call 020 7930 8800 or visit http://www.trh.co.uk/whatson/moving-stories-sunday-26th-february-4pm/


Sunday, 1 January 2017

My 2016 in Theatre | LittleEllieMae


Last year I posted my 2015 in theatre and with my ever-growing passion, it seemed only right to continue this year. 

Each year theatre is becoming more and more important to me and this year is no exception. As cheesy as it sounds, I now know its my life calling. This lead me to finally apply and successfully begin studying Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management at Falmouth University, hoping to get into the theatre industry myself one day. Its been one of the best decisions I've ever made- Falmouth University and my course is so perfect for me and I am beyond happy there. I cannot wait to continue my time there in the new year. I'm looking foward to seeing what else it brings me in 2017. 

Alongside the stress of applying to university, of course I kept up my passion of attending as much theatre as I can. This year I hit a personal record of seeing 42 different theatre productions and attending the theatre over 53 times. (That's nearly once a week!) I've experimented with so much different theatre this year which is what I'm most proud of. As someone who is most definitely musical theatre orientated, this year I have immersed myself with other genres such as plays, dance, comedy, new writing and youth productions which has been so refreshing and I have a new found love beyond musical theatre.

I have also had some fantastic experiences working in theatre this year. Continuing my fantastic work with the Theatre Royal Plymouth, next year brings more exciting opportunities which I cannot wait to talk about!
 Another highlight was spending the week working with Masterclass at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and TheatreCraft. I had been planning this work placement since the beginning of the year so by the time it came around in November I was delighted. It was so great to experience the working of such a large event such as TheatreCraft and the day to day running of one of the most legendary theatres in the West End, the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Check out my blog post here.

I also had the completely surreal opportunity to attend the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Far from my usual student and work- riddled life, I felt like Cinderella as I dressed up in a fancy dress, was ushered into a room full of glitzy celebrities and handed a glass of champagne which just kept getting topped up and up. It was a complete dream to be part of such an evening and I left feeling absolutely inspired and excited about the future of theatre. Read my blog post here.

In the past years, my theatre experience has generally been confined to my hometown theatre, Theatre Royal Plymouth, as its just the easiest and cheapest option. Although this year I made sure to push my boundaries and explore more. I've visited London more times this year than I have the rest of my life! By making so many trips to London this year, I've become so comfortable there and it has further strengthened my desire to work on West End one day. I also visited theatres in Cardiff, Cornwall and Birmingham and although they were all completely different, I fell in love with them all.

My Top 10 Shows of 2016:

Billy Elliot The Musical



Billy Elliot The Musical quickly became one of my favourite musicals ever, let alone of this year. Having never had seen the show on West End, I was thrilled when the first UK tour premiered in Plymouth. I was lucky enough to attend their dress rehearsal, followed by press night and closing night. I have also since travelled to Cardiff to catch the show again this summer, totalling six visits to the show this year. Its a truly beautiful show and this UK tour is one of the best shows you will ever see. Check out my review here.

The Wind In The Willows



The highly anticipated world premiere of The Wind in the Willows The Musical made its debut at the Theatre Royal Plymouth too. It was a stunning show, with some of the best set I've seen all year. It was perfectly staged and the quirky performances were right up my street. I would love to catch it as it hits the West End next year! Check out my review here.

Miss Saigon



In February I was lucky enough to attend the last West End performance of Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward theatre. It was my first (and last) time seeing this show and it quickly became a firm favourite. This performance was particularly outstanding as the actors put 110% effort and emotion into their last show, and with special guests Cameron Mackintosh, Alan Boubil and Claude Michel Schonberg, it was the cherry on top. Miss Saigon is a complete theatrical masterpiece and I really hope I get to see it again someday. Check out my review here.

In The Heights


2016 has well and truly solidified my obsession with Lin Manuel Miranda- he is a true genius. Whilst waiting for the highly anticipated Hamilton to hit West End, I was eager to check out some of Miranda's other work. As well as watching his mini-musical 21 Chump Street, I quickly became obsessed with his first ever musical In The Heights. I saw the show three times in 2016, including a very exciting first birthday party for the show. In The Heights explodes with passion and vibrancy and includes some of the best music and dance routines I've seen. Its easily one of my favourite shows of all time- I'm very sad to see it leave London! Read my review here and my interview with Sam Mackay, who plays lead Usnavi, here.

Half A Sixpence


I was ecstatic to be invited to the press night of Half A Sixpence in November. There has been such a buzz about this show since its opening at Chichester, and now its found a firm home in the West End at the Noel Coward Theatre. It was a surreal evening as Shaun Nolan and myself were seated in our own box in the stalls and were surrounded by the likes of Queen Elaine Paige and Cliff Richards themselves. Half A Sixpence is a hugely impressive show and I was so eager to see it again, I quickly made a return visit in December. The remodelling of the classic musical with stunning choreography and fantastic performances from the actors, especially new leading man Charlie Stemp, is totally refreshing and I've fallen in love with it. Read my review here.

Rent


Rent is a revolutionary piece of theatre and one that will stay with me for a very long time. This UK tour embarked on a month long run at St James Theatre in London and I managed to see the show in December. To say that I was blown away is an understatement, It was visually stunning, with fantastic choreography and staging alike. The music is beautiful and it portrays such a hard-hitting and emotional story through Jonathon Larson's stunning melodies and lyrics. The casting for this production was perfect and the chemistry on stage was electrifying. I'm desperate to see it again.

The Last Five Years


The music from The Last Five Years is some of my favourite music ever. I could listen to its songs day in, day out, and never get bored (in fact, that's exactly what I already do!). So I was thrilled to catch the new production at St James Theatre this November. I adore the structure of this show, with Cathy's story told in reverse chronological order and Jamie's story told in chronological; Its a really interesting concept and not everyone can warm to it, but personally I think it makes a great show. The staging is very simple and all focus is put on each performer (Samantha Barks and Jonathan Bailey) who perform separately, bar one song in the show, as the emphasis of the whole production is mainly the beautiful music. Its so simple and beautiful- I absolutely loved it.

Phantom of the Opera


Although its such an old classic, my love for Phantom of the Opera has excelled this year. At the start of 2016, my friends and I were lucky enough to go backstage at the beautiful Her Majesty's Theatre before and after the show which was the most magical and insightful experience. To stand on that iconic stage and look out into the auditorium was a dream come true. I saw the show twice during the year and it blows me away every time. The heart- wrenching orchestrations and mysteriously seductive story never fails to amaze me. It celebrated its 30th birthday in the West End this year which I think is a fantastic achievement, and long may it reign. 

Guys and Dolls


I had the pleasure of seeing Guys and Dolls both on tour and in the West End during 2016. This iconic old musical has been given a new lease of life with this upbeat new production. It is the definition of a feel- good show, and both the tour and show at the Phoenix Theatre in London proved this with its impressive choreography and classic toe- tapping songs. A particular star for me was Richard Fleeshman who blew the roof off the theatre as he performed as Sky Masterson, he oozed with charm and ridiculously strong vocals. 

The Red Shoes


In November, Matthew Bourne (one of my favourite choreographers) premiered his latest show, The Red Shoes, at Theatre Royal Plymouth. I attended its sold-out opening night and was astounded by his new production. Bourne's choreography is gripping and so beautifully coveys even the most complex of story lines. A really impressive dance show. Read my review here.


As you can see, its been such an impressive year of theatre- some really revolutionary pieces continue to brace the UK stage which is delightful to see. I can't wait to see what 2017 brings!

Happy New Year!

Ellie Mae x


Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own.