Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Le Navet Bete - The Barbican Theatre - A Christmas Carol Review

The Barbican Theatre invited me along to the press night of their new Christmas show, A Christmas Carol by Le Navet Bete last week and I enjoyed every minute. 

Le Navet Bete are a comedy theatre group from Exeter and following their sell- out performances in Plymouth, including The Jungle Book, Robin Hood and The Wizard of Oz, they have launched their seventh Christmas show: A Christmas Carol. This year, the show is performed at Plymouth’s much loved but recently abandoned Athenaeum theatre in central Plymouth. I remember adoring this theatre as a child, as I used to watch my little sister perform her ballet shows on stage. Years later, the theatre was mothballed and has been dark since 2009 – that’s since Le Navet Bete bought it back to life with their 10-performance run of Le Navet Bete’s Dracula: The Bloody Truth earlier this year. The Athenaeum is a wonderful theatre venue and I am ecstatic that it is being bought to life in Plymouth again. I really do hope this continues with more wonderful shows. 

A Christmas Carol is a co- production between Le Navet Bete and The Barbican Theatre – of whom I am already a major fan of. It’s my first experience of Le Navet Bete, but from the Barbican’s fantastic repertoire of theatre collaborations and word-of-mouth around Plymouth, I was expecting wonderful things. 

A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite festive stories and Le Navet Bete’s hilarious comedy twist on the classic is hugely refreshing. Their production follows the story we all know and love but introduce the audience to some slightly different characters to what we’re used to… 
Jacob Marley was hilariously hairy... the Ghost of Christmas Past dons a white all-in-one suit and a extremely amusing high-pitched voice. The Ghost of Christmas Present hops around on bouncy stilts and the Ghost of Christmas future embodies a huge, spider- like creature which takes up much of the stage. The new imaginations of the traditional characters are hilarious and completely innovative. 

The beginning of the show starts with a bang and is followed by a narrative to introduce the story. Although I was initially somewhat sceptic about the use of comedy as I’m not a fan of silly, slapstick, panto-esque humour – I was thoroughly surprised and enjoyed the comedy immensely. It is full of clever wit and genuinely hilarious puns. It took me a little while to warm to but I was very soon laughing out loud in my seat. 

There are elements of pantomime in the show as a nod to the festive season with fun audience participation and interaction but it is still very true to the traditional theatrical piece. 

The set is wonderful and fantastically utilised the larger Athenaeum stage – I particularly enjoyed the two-layered set piece that portrayed Scrooge’s office which he shared with Bob Cratchit. There were some great and dynamic pieces which, although seemingly simple, created a whole festive world on stage. 

The costumes were just as impressive – my favourite being the Ghost of Christmas Future. I was in awe when it entered the stage; The Barbican Theatre are great at creating beautiful products of simple ingredients. This costume consisted of just four stilts and black fabric but created a threatening yet magical creature which was a stand- out in the show. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this show. It’s a refreshing take on a festive classic – Le Navet Bete have created something so creative, cheerful and Christmas-ey! It’s a great alternative to a traditional pantomime this year and I absolutely urge Plymouth families to go along to check it out. Let’s keep staging fantastic shows in this fantastic old Plymouth venue! 

Thanks to the Barbican Theatre and Le Navet Bete for inviting me along!

Merry Christmas!

Ellie Mae x

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Barbican Theatre 'Bard In The Yard' Twelfth Night @ Royal William Yard REVIEW | LittleEllieMae

I love what the Barbican Theatre is all about- it promotes high quality, accessible work while supporting and developing local talent. This is something that is vital for the South West as we are somewhat disconnected from the rest of the country and industry so making sure that arts and culture can thrive within this hub is very special. 

Over the past three years, Barbican Theatre have created the popular 'Bard In The Yard' series which sees professional Shakespeare productions staged in Plymouth's most beautiful and historical seaside setting, the Royal William Yard. In 2015 they staged 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and last year showed the immensely popular 'Romeo and Juliet'. This year's production is Shakespeare's chaotic comedy 'Twelfth Night'. Jon Nash directs this production, with Ryan Wilce assisting, Kate Rogers as Musical Director, Jules Laville as choreographer and produced by Mark Laville. 

They explain that Twelfth Night is about "parting, identity, cross- dressing and the search for true love.". It follows a disorderly tale of identical twins who get lost from each other after a disastrous shipwreck. To survive "she" pretends to be a "he" and "he" ends up caught in a mad tangle of love. Alongside this, there are hilariously menacing plots made, resulting in all but some bright yellow stockings...!

The cast is made up of eight local professional actors, all of whom take on multiple roles in the show. For some, this could come across as confusing but the use of costume changes as well as the slick performances from each actor portrayed every personality differently and therefore made it seamless for the audience to follow. 

Comedy was the main element of the show; the use of wit and physical comedy had the whole audience giggling. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's most humorous plays and this cast delivered it with quick timing, making it thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Designer, Hannah McArthur, kept things very minimalistic. The set is designed to cater for two venues as generally the outdoor space in the Residence One Garden is utilised but the performance is moved to the indoor venue, the Factory Cooperage, in case of wet weather (which it was during Press Night!). There is actually little of a set, with just a simple blank canvas backdrop and use of minimal props including some chairs, a record player and a tree which also reverts into a jail cell door! Though the simplicity of the design really lends itself to the rest of the production, ensuring the focus is on the actors who then utilise their physicality more than anything. Its well thought out and allows the stunning historical surroundings of the Royal William Yard venue to play a part in the production well too. 

I liked the idea of the use of song and dance, especially as the production boasted a 1920s 'flapper' theme, but the songs with vocals seemed somewhat crowbarred into story, making it seem a bit clumsy and awkward at times. Though I did really enjoy the use of 1920s music and Charleston dance routine at the final bows.

The cast of local actors are a credit to the production. They are full of enthusiasm for the piece and this comes across on stage. The show bursts with energy and is sure to make any audience member laugh, using the most classic words of Shakespeare himself.

The production has had a fantastic run (despite the sporadic Plymouth weather!) and I am looking forward to what the Barbican Theatre and 'Bard In The Yard' has planned next!

Check out their website here to find out more about the Barbican Theatre's work and future productions:

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: I was kindly invited along to this performance by Barbican Theatre but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

FACE 2 FACE Exhibition at Torre Abbey | LittleEllieMae

 I was invited along to review the latest exhibition, Face 2 Face, at Torre Abbey in Torquay. My sister, Flora, and I took a road trip to check it out - just an easy 40/50 minute drive from my home in Plymouth.

 Face 2 Face impressively presents over 30 pieces of contemporary art from the Arts Council Collection at the Southbank Centre, alongside Torre Abbey's permanent collection featuring pre-raphaelite artists such as William Holman Hunt and William Blake.

The exhibition explores 'the art of the selfie', presenting how portraits have evolved over time 'from paint to pixels'. It's a really interesting concept and one that I think will resonate with such a wide range of audiences who are constantly exposed to this technological era of an "Instagram Life". It's fascinating to see how old masters and contemporary art actually holds similar traits and meanings, yet hundreds of years apart.

The exhibition is held across 3 floors of the museum, where the contemporary art is immersed within the permanent Torre Abbey collections in the galleries. A lot of art galleries and exhibitions will generally present contemporary art or pre-raphaelite art separately, rather than side by side, which I think actually creates a better way of comparison - which is the whole concept of the show.

One of my favourite moments of the exhibition was on the staircase leading from the top floor which showcased some gorgeous work - 'The Red Cap - Portrait of a Young Lady' by William Strange (1920) and 'The Children's Holiday' by William Holman Hunt - versus the contemporary work of Marc Quinn's 'Template for my Future Plastic Surgery' and Steve Johnston's 'Punk Portraits'. The portraits, although visually completely different, focus on the human face, its emotion and the ability to change what you look like - whether that be by painting in a perfected colourised light or through the punk disguise and plastic surgery.

I noticed this theme of "perfection" is carried right through the exhibition, making the concept of filters and photoshop that we, as a contemporary audience use, something to strongly empathise with. Its something that people have striven for over centuries and art portrays this through a variety of mediums across time.

I also loved Bettina Von Zwehl's 'Profiles 111' of intensely high definition portrait photographs of babies. This contrasted against the perfectionism shown in the work on the staircase as it gives an insight to reality showing imperfections such as the baby's dribble and earwax. It is chillingly evocative and again, makes a great contrast between the various portraits.

Sarah Lucas' self portraits (1990-98) reminded me of Instagram culture through her nonchalant, candid shots and her humorous titles which are reminiscent of modern day Instagram posts.

David Hockney's 'Gregory' (1974) etching conveys a similar informal style which can be recognised as an internet trend similarly to Lucas' self portraits. I really enjoy the simplicity of the contemporary work, such as Hockney's use of just two colours and the blank canvas of Von Zwehl's portraits. Its a completely different style to the older pieces which juxtaposes the work nicely.

Alongside the professional work, the exhibition showcased art from local schools and colleges. They focused on the topic of identity and produced a fantastic assortment of work, from a thumb painting of Ed Sheeran to pop-art style vegetables. It was completely refreshing to see really high quality work from young creative minds. It didn't seem out of place from the rest of the professional art of the Face 2 Face exhibition.

Overall, we really enjoyed the Face 2 Face exhibition at Torre Abbey. It's a remarkable collection of art from across eras which collate to form interesting contrasts and comparisons, focusing on a subject that is so prevalent in our modern day. It runs at Torre Abbey, Torquay until the 3rd September.

The museum makes a great day out, with not only the art exhibitions but historical displays, interactive activities, stunning gardens and yummy tea rooms too!

I thoroughly enjoyed our time there and I'm really looking forward to visiting again to check out their other creative programmes in the future including the open-air cinema, theatre and workshops.

Big thanks to Torre Abbey for having us!

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the cultural creative agency, Wonder Associates, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

TheatreCraft returns! | LittleEllieMae

Last year, I was delighted to be involved with TheatreCraft (see my blog post here) as I acted as their Social Media Editor. It has been announced that Theatrecraft, London’s largest, free careers event for young people seeking an off-stage career in theatre, returns to the Waldorf Hilton Hotel on Friday 3rd November.

The annual event will hold further significance throughout the industry following an independent report commissioned by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, which has found that off-stage theatre, despite benefiting from a passionate, engaged workforce, is struggling with a shortage of skilled technical workers.

The report found that the education sector is channelling young people away from off-stage careers, labelling theatre as a ‘high risk option’ and offering a notable lack of guidance around training routes into the industry. This is something I can personally resonate with, as I was at an all-girls grammar school who completely focused on the sciences and Russell Group universities- I found it difficult to gain support of the school to decide on my career in the theatre as it was deemed "risky". The report went on to identify TheareCraft as an important response to these issues, having actively championed the vibrant array of careers in the sector for fourteen years.

More than a careers fair, TheatreCraft remains an entirely free event offering attendees the opportunity to take part in dynamic workshops led by theatre professionals, explore the vibrant marketplace of exhibiting theatres and arts organisations, connect with peers through various networking opportunities and speak with industry experts in one-to-one advice sessions.

1,000 people aged 16 -25 attended TheatreCraft last year, taking part in more than 68 workshops delivered by skilled theatre professionals across 6 West End venues and engaging with 66 theatres and arts organisations in the marketplace, making it the largest event to date.

Newly appointed President of Society of London Theatre, Kenny Wax, commented;
“Without the skilled practitioners backstage, there would be no theatre. From marketing and lighting to set design and directing, TheatreCraft does the invaluable job of highlighting the range of careers available and helps to spot and encourage fresh talent. TheatreCraft is also a showcase of the talented professionals who make up our industry and we are immensely grateful they donate their time and energy to help make the event the success it is.”

TheatreCraft is organised by a group of committed partners from across the theatre industry; the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Society of London Theatre and Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

I'm a huge supporter of this event. As a young person trying to get a career off-stage in the theatre industry, TheatreCraft provides a completely unique experience which can help set the foundations for your successful journey. Its such an enjoyable and useful experience.

For more information and all the latest news about TheatreCraft visit or find them on Twitter @TheatreCraft.

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: Photos by Rory Ohlmeier. I have worked closely with Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass and TheatreCraft but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Summer 2017 Fashion Lookbook | LittleEllieMae

Its been a while since I've published a fashion post so when the lovely photographer Charlie Wells suggested we shoot a Summer fashion lookbook together, I jumped at the chance. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with new trends, and here's some of my favourite for this season: 

This outfit mixes some of my favourite trends for this season: off-the-shoulder, bell sleeves, embroidery, denim and wide leg! Believe it or not, this beautiful white cotton embroidered top is from Primark! I've paired it with these denim wide leg trousers from Next and my trusty Clarks block heel shoes. I love a dewy, natural makeup finish for the Summer and I think it suits this outfit perfectly.

As always, I love a pop of bright colour! This fun floral playsuit from New Look is my go-to outfit this season. Pair it with white converse like I have here for a casual, day-time look or nicer heels/ sandals to dress it up for evenings. I am wearing it with my vintage Calvin Klein oversized denim jacket which I found for such a bargain on Depop! 

I pretty much live in jeans so I've been on the hunt for an alternative to switch it up a bit... I found these gorgeous striped trousers from Bershka. They're super flattering and I love the nautical vibe they give off! I've paired it with this navy blue bodysuit from Boohoo and my favourite new sandals from Clarks. 

I had lots of fun on this shoot with Charlie- thank you!

What are your favourite summer trends? Let me know by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae :) 

Ellie Mae x

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Half a Sixpence Interview with Devon-Elise Johnson and Bethany Huckle | LittleEllieMae

During my time in London last week, I had the awesome opportunity to sit down with Bethany Huckle (Flo) and Devon-Elise Johnson (Ann) from the hit West End show 'Half a Sixpence'. We chatted all things theatre, from starting out in the industry, to their Chichester run and now bracing the West End stage. Half a Sixpence is without a doubt one of my favourite shows on the West End at the moment, and its such a shame to see it leave on September 2nd. It was a pleasure to sit down with some of the show's leading ladies who are the most delightful and funny characters I've met in this industry. Check out what we got up to below:

How did you get into theatre?

B: I was one of those little kids that started dancing at the age of 2 or 3. My mum had friends with little girls the same age as me, so she was like, "Go on then, you'll really enjoy it!". She said I was just skipping around for the whole lesson, so I obviously liked it! Then I joined a local dance school, throughout my primary and secondary school. On a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday after school, I'd have dinner in the car, go to dance class, do my dance exams, we did festivals and musical numbers so every weekend I'd be competing aswell. When I was 15 in Year 11, my Mum suggested I try out for a performing arts school. Though there aren't a lot of performing arts schools that take at 16, but I wanted to give it a go. We weren't the richest of the richest, so we knew that if I couldn't get a scholarship or funding, I wouldn't be able to make it. But I did, I got accepted at some dance schools, got some funding and I started there! I graduated early to start Seven Brides and Seven Brothers at Regents Park Open Air Theatre which was just amazing, from dancing in the rain to falling over! Then did stuff like panto, some workshops, now Half a Sixpence!

D: I started dancing at 2 years old (badly... I wouldn't exactly call myself a dancer!). I went to various different dance schools- in total I went to 11 dance schools because every time I went to one, there would always be a different dance school that would do extra that I wanted to do, so I'd just keep moving around Essex! Then I did Billy Elliot when I was 13 which I didn't really want to audition for because I was quite a shy child, but my Mum just said, "Go for it... see how you get on", went for it, got it! I remember on opening night, walking in front of 1500 people, I was like, "OH MY GOD! This is insane!" And from that moment, I thought I could do this for the rest of my life. I played Susan Parkes in Billy Elliot which was so much fun so I used to run into the boxing bag every night..! It was just incredible... I used to get time off school! Then I just kept auditioning, and worked professionally and then I went to drama school. I did it a bit backwards! I went to London School of Musical Theatre for a year when I was 19, and I've been lucky to be working pretty consistently ever since. Though there have been little stints at Boots in between, selling perfume and what not!

What made you audition for Half a Sixpence?

B: I heard about the show when I was doing panto actually... I was travelling to and from London for auditions. My mates told me that Andrew Wright was choreographing Half a Sixpence, and I was like, "what's Half a Sixpence?!" I remember my Nan telling me it was great. Anyway, I always fall for an old- school musical: from the dancing to singing to the cheekiness. Its good old fashioned fun! I was in France on holiday, and I got a recall with a music demo for Simple Tune and I just thought, "This is going to be absolutely hilarious!" - its a crazy, crazy song... god knows what we were going to be doing! It was old-school but they've taken it and given it a really cool twist.

D: It was a weird one for me! I was auditioning for Wicked at the time, and I was in the finals but then my agent phoned me at like 10 o'clock on a Saturday evening. She asked me what I was doing and I was just chilling with my Mum! Then she told me that I had an audition on Tuesday for Half a Sixpence! I was like, "woah, slow down! What is that?!" She sent over all the material straight away and I had to learn it all by Tuesday! So I locked myself in my bedroom and learnt nine pieces of material in just a few days. It was a whirlwind! I went in on the Tuesday for my preliminary audition, on Wednesday I went in to meet Cameron Mackintosh, on the Thursday I met the whole team, sang on the piano with Stiles and Drewe... then 10 minutes later, I got a phone call to say I got the job! It was the weirdest experience of my life! I had to say sorry that I couldn't do Wicked anymore! I didn't really have time to think about Half a Sixpence- I just quickly learnt all the material. But I very quickly fell in love with it. I absolutely adore this show... the songs, the dancing, the script is just lovely.

Why do you think audiences resonate with this show?

D: Well a lot of young people don't really know about it, they think its going to be all 'fuddy-duddy' but actually, when people come and see it its nothing like they expected. Its so much more vibrant, its funny!

B: Its relateable! Even though its set in a completely different time, people have to same problems...

D:People have the same problems with love and money and social class...

B: Its not too heavy

D: But the costumes are!!!

B: There are some heartbreaking moments, as with any story, but it gives it substance.

How does the West End production differ from the original Chichester run?

D: Its really quite different actually. We've got songs that have changed...

B: Stuff like the layout, because Chichester was such an open stage- it was kind of in-the-round(ish) so we could play out to different spots in the auditorium. Whereas its different in the Noel Coward... though the revolves are still the same...

D: Do you remember the first time we went on the revolves?!

B: "Everybody stand in a circle... we're just going to walk, two at a time." ... we just collapsed!

D: Because they go in different directions, we all looked drunk! But now, its easy!

Have you had many mishaps on stage?


B: From falling over, to conveyor belts not working, making up words... everything!

D: We've done it a few times...

B: Its really nice though, because the audience are still with you. It reminds them that we're still human

D: Its a live performance... its what audiences enjoy. Me and Charlie in particular have had some really funny moments on stage... where we are just looking at each other, hoping one is going to dig the other out of their hole!

B: You have to be telepathic!

D: Its only like, 4 seconds but seems like an eternity!

What are your favourite songs in the show? 

B: Ohhhh... its got to be Touch of Happiness!

D: We're not biased or anything, as we perform it together! Its so much fun! It comes at a moment in the show which needs light relief. You get to see both our characters in a different light. As you've seen 'Nice Ann' and 'Serious Ann' so its nice to just see her have fun!

B: Flo is constantly with the boys so Touch of Happiness is her girl time! Saying things she can't speak to the boys about...

D: Like willies and stuff..! When we originally heard the song, they wanted to call it a 'Touch of A-ppiness (a penis)'!

B: Cameron Mackintosh loved it, but Lord Julian Fellowes did not approve!

D: He just rolled his eyes at us!... I also love Flash, Bang, Wallop!

B: I also like Money to Burn Part 1 too... its growing on me every week. Especially with different people going on holidays and stuff, its a nice challenge to put my head around which boy is who... we have different conversations so its different.

Have you seen any shows in the West End recently?

B: I actually went to see The Wind in The Willows last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I heard a lot of controversial stuff about it but I went in with an open mind. I just felt like I was at Disneyland or something, it was lovely! The storyline is quite basic, but what they do with it is beautiful, especially the layout which fills the massive Palladium stage. I had some mates in it... the leads were great but I couldn't stop watching the ensemble, it was so strong. Stiles and Drewe (who did the music for Half a Sixpence) did their music too, and made every single individual character count. Its great.

D: You know what, I haven't managed to watch anything in a really long time! Until we had our Wednesday matinees with a free evening, that's my social time with my "normal" friends so that's all I've been doing really. Though, next Wednesday I do desperately want to see The Ferryman as I've got a friend who is dressing on it and I've heard it hilarious.

B: I also can't wait to see Five Guys Named Moe! Both my mates are in that too.

How was West End Live?

D: Terrifying!

B: I didn't expect that many people to be there. They were still queuing as we were performing!

D: Its the first time I've ever performed there, and to perform it with this cast... it was mental. That's one thing about this show, its given us so many opportunities. Things that I've always dreamed of doing, like Children In Need, radio, The One Show. I genuinely didn't expect so much to come from doing this show

B: Its amazing what a show can do when you least expect it!

If you could take on any role in the theatre, aside from performing, what would you do?

D: I know! I'd be a wiggie. I love hair and I'm quite good at it aswell. A lot of time in the show, I do my own hair. I don't wear a wig as they didn't like the wig on me, it was like Christine from Phantom's hair! They preferred my natural hair. So they cut the wig and gave it to Beth!

B: I'd either be the cheeky follow spot because no one sees you! You're like a little lightning strike. Or... I've taken this from Half a Sixpence actually... I'd be a backstage crew but the onstage backstage crew. So in the pub scene, we've got people pre-setting things behind the bar and they're sitting behind the bar for the whole 10 minute scene! I'd love to do that!

If you could play any other character in Half a Sixpence, who would you play?

D: I'd play Chitterlow. I just think he's great! Hell yeah, I'd get to ride the car at the end! Though Charlie would never trust me..! Chitterlow is so much fun and I really like the wig... its hilarious, like a curly, ginger Annie wig!

B: This may sound strange, but I'd love to be part of the ensemble. You get to do the woodwork scene, then you get to dress in a green dress... its just so many different characters each, you're always doing different funny things! You're fooling the audience, because you change your wig and you become a different person!

If you could take one prop and one costume from the show home with you, what would you take?

B: Ooooh I just want to take my shoes home with me! But they won't let me because they're very expensive.... I'd also love to take my wig.

D: I want to take my wedding dress home... I really want that.

B: I don't think they'll let you...

D: Or maybe my crown, my veil. I want to nail it into my wall!

B: Shall we ask if we can take the fortune teller?! Or the seagull!!!

D: Aaaaww the seagull!

B: At the start of the garden party, there's an appearance from a certain bird..! The initial plans for this bird were brilliant... they were going to make him poo on Lady Punnett's hat, everything was going to happen for this bird! But turns out, he just pops in to say hello then goes back up!

What are your dream roles?

B: I don't know... it's hard as adore dancing shows. Whether it be old-school shows or new ones, like Legally Blonde, would be incredible. Cats- I want to tick that one off! Or something like Thoroughly Modern Millie... A Chorus Line! That sort of stuff, I love. I'd love to take on a full-on, triple- threat role where you can lead a massive dance number then go onto a ballad. But obviously, its just when those shows come around... they don't come around often... well, I mean, Cats does!!

D: Oh god... I've actually never really had dream roles as if you focus so much on a role and you don't get it, its such a bummer. But there's lots of roles that I'd like to play- I want to be Roxie in Chicago. I've been singing those songs since I was 10! I love it... she's such an iconic character, she's so sassy! I'd like to be Mary in Mary Poppins- it's so different to this. I'd like to be Eliza in My Fair Lady... I just want to try all different stuff. Originally, I was classically trained and I thought I'd always do old musical theatre, like Christine in Phantom of the Opera. When I came out of college, everything I did was pop. This is the first musical that I've done that is legit musical theatre but it's still actually a little bit pop-y!

How do you cope with being in such a fast-paced industry?

B: Its hard because college trains you to be a certain thing but as soon as you're out and you have 3 auditions a week, you have no idea what you're up to next! Like Devon said, you could be chilling with your Mum then the next minute you get a phone call and your mindset completely changes.

D: You just have to instantly switch, lock yourself in your room and get down to work.

B: Its a rollercoaster. You just have to go with it. When one stops, you have to obviously think what you're going to do to get some money in, what's going to make you happy, whether its dancing, teaching, having another profession. Its hard but you have to relax awkwardly and just let everything happen to you. Obviously you have to put the work in and do your homework but you have to let everything happen to you.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Thanks so much to Bethany and Devon for taking the time to sit down with me for a chat- it was an absolute delight.

First presented at Chichester’s Festival Theatre, last summer’s hit “HALF A SIXPENCE” will play its final performance in London on Saturday 2 September, having extended its limited season twice. Tickets are priced from £12.50 - £77.50. A limited number of £20 seats are released each day from 10.00am in person at the box office. - Catch it soon, before its too late!

Ellie Mae x

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