Truth About Youth by Katie Fegan, 16
Imagine being told you could achieve your childhood dream, being told that when you made that wish upon a star it really would come true. I recently asked two of my best friends, Meg and Kirsten, what they wanted to do when they were seven years old. Kirsten wanted to be a paleontologist Meg wanted to be Scooby-Doo. They then rightfully enquired, “Why do you ask?” I simply responded “because I’m living my dream” When I was seven, I wanted to write and record music.
All this started back in October on a Tuesday evening. I had a lot of maths homework to do, and I mean a lot! The thought of starting to work through that mountain of misery was giving me a headache, so I sat down at my piano for a while. It was then I remembered I’d been asked to write a song for the Love Drama 12-16s, since I came to them the week before with my version of “The 4 Chord Song” by Axis of Awesome. I had being trying to write songs for years but it never amounted to anything, but this time it was different. I took inspiration from the One Day event the group attended last August, and the lyrics came so naturally and the accompaniment soon followed. I couldn’t stop working on it! Two days later it was done, and I was proud of my work. Looking back on it now I realise why this song was the only song I could complete; I cared about what I was writing and was passionate about the message I was trying to put across.
The Friday of that week I sat down at a badly tuned piano and performed my work to the group. I was terrified since I’d never performed my own work before, and I had just recovered from a throat infection. Since I was facing the other way I couldn’t see anyone’s faces, so for most of the song I was in fear that people were giving me looks of disgust. Then towards the end I heard the whole group singing back to me, my own words, my own song. Seriously, when professional musicians say there is nothing better than an audience singing their lyrics back to them, they’re right! A huge cheer erupted from the group and I was pulled into a huge group hug, with loads of people offering to help and giving me compliments. It was amazing, and I confess I got a bit teary eyed…
The Project is Born…
What followed the performance is still a lot for me to take in! I sent a recording of the song and a lyric sheet to Kirsten (as in my teacher, not my best friend), at the time thinking she wanted to get to know it better so we could use it for an upcoming show. How wrong I was! It took me a few days to actually ask why she wanted them, and the answer shocked me. Both the recording and the lyrics had been sent to the Young Scot organisation. It took me a minute to comprehend that someone would be going through their emails and open up a link to my work. I was so scared! What if they just deleted it? What if they hated it? What if they got mad at Kirsten for sending it to them? Well, would I be writing this blog if any of that turned out to be true?
Instead, I was pulled aside during an improv academy session and told that Young Scot were interested in recording my song. Now, I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe my reaction in order to give you a visual image. Think of a kangaroo…on red bull…that screams…and at one point falls to the floor. That pretty much sums it up. I must have looked ridiculous, but I still don’t care! I felt so honoured that a big organisation took a look at my composition and thought it good enough for them to get involved, I’m still honoured! I then set to work getting the whole group involved; adding in a guitar, drums and a choral part for the whole group to join in. I put a message on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to help me, and the response was incredible! I’m still so grateful to anyone who offered me help…or just anyone who liked the status update.
Time to Teach…
I spent a good few months having weekly or fortnightly rehearsals with three girls in particular; Rosie, Emma and Lois. They had to put up with a lot with me I must say, since being in a teaching role is very new to me! They’ve seen me in a good mood, bad mood, hyper mood, sleepy mood…well you get the idea. Rosie, Emma and I had the main vocal parts and Lois was on guitar. These girls were absolutely amazing! They took everything I said on board and worked their socks off, and it showed. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with. They treated me with respect and saw how much the whole thing meant to me, and I hope I was able to make it feel like it was their project as well as my own. We had brilliant laughs in rehearsals, and we got a lot of work done. I’m so glad that they put so much effort in and I feel like I owe them big time. Thank you so much guys!!
Progress was then halted since in April I made the unfortunate decision to leave the group. It was a difficult choice, but studying for highers and keeping up my part time job required all my attention. I still kept in regular contact with Kirsten about the project, and at the end of May I arranged to come back to teach the rest of the group their choral part. Now, like I said the whole teaching thing is new to me, so I walked into improv academy shaking. To make matters worse I’d left all my teaching notes at home and had just completed my chemistry higher, so it was safe to say I wasn’t in a good mood. I did get through the session and the group did take in what I was saying, but I did far more shouting and back chatting than would be expected of a professional. I split the group into two parts to teach a harmony within the chorus. After teaching the lower part to the whole group, I then got to work on teaching the higher part. Even though it was a small group, they were louder than the others. They did a great job! We pretty much had it. Now there was only two weeks to wait until the recording.
On the 14th of June I went back into Love Drama for the final recording, considerably calmer than I had been a fortnight previous. Some alterations were made before we were set up; the drum section was removed as was the choral harmony for ease. Whilst I and the three other main girls were getting set up I believe Calum was doing some recording on his tablet of the group outside. This lead to a Young Scot representative asking if there was a baby outside, to which I responded “No, that’s the Love Drama 12-16s”. We also had a strange moment before the recording when three slightly drunk women, who’d obviously come from the Ladies Day, wandered into the building. After several sound checks and Lois having to sprint to her house to get a new battery, we were all set!
We used the first recording as a practice, and I must say for a first go we did really well. A couple of mistakes were made, and we would’ve gotten away with it if not for Rosie groaning and putting her head in her hands every time someone slipped up and me making growling noises towards the culprit. However, our second attempt was close to perfection! I punched the air and started cheering once we had finished and stood up to hug everyone…but was then told we needed one more take. At this point my voice wasn’t as good as it could be so I was a bit nervous about giving it another go, but knew it was needed. This final attempt was better than I ever thought the song could sound. The singers were all in tune, the guitar came in in perfect time and the chorus were dancing and smiling away throughout. I couldn’t have been happier! I then got a series of hi 5s and hugs before getting up and starting to pack away and getting ready to leave, but I wasn’t finished yet…this is where things got emotional. I was all set to say a quick goodbye, walk out the door and get on with life with no stress or commotion. Safe to say this didn’t happen. At all.
TO WATCH KATIE’S COMPLETED MUSIC VIDEO CLICK HERE!
I was in the back room packing my bag when in comes Emma yelling at me to come back through. I told her I’d be a few minutes, to which she grabbed my arm and pulled me back into the other room and onto the stage. I then heard people yelling at me to sit on a wooden chair that was at the back of the stage. Safe to say I was seriously confused. Then Rosie and Lois walked onto the stage carrying a small brown paper bag. They handed it to me, and inside were three purple parcels and three cards. It was a huge shock and I was unsure what to say at first, and so just got stuck into opening the presents. The first was a poster of lots of smiling faces, each of which represented a member of the group, with the one in the middle being me. The next was a Starbucks mug, which I am currently sipping coffee from as a write this. The third contained a few pairs of earrings, which for someone with six ear piercings is very useful. I then opened the cards, the first of which being from the three girls I’d worked closely with on the project. The second had the words “Enjoy Your Retirement” written across the front and was signed by the whole group (cheers lads…you’re all soooo funny!).
The third card I was told to read out. It was from Kirsten. I read about half of the big paragraph out before bursting into tears, and just to clarify I mean properly burst into tears! It’s not like I had a few tears in my eyes, I was uncontrollably howling! After being in the centre of a giant group hug I got up to leave, or at least tried to! I kept stopping to hug and thank everyone, though I could barely see through the tears flowing from my eyes. I’m pretty sure I reduced half the group to tears during my departure too. I still can’t believe that people took the time to plan a shopping trip for my departure completely out of the kindness of their heart to show that they would miss me, it’s insane! Other members that have gone before me got a cheerio and a good luck in life…and I got presents?! Mental! I won’t be forgetting that day in a hurry, and I can’t wait to hear the final product. Everyone was amazing and I can’t thank Young Scot enough!
Ok I’m aware I’ve already written a lot but whilst I had the laptop on I thought I’d take a look back through five years at Love Drama. I came to the group as a shy eleven year old with a love of the arts, hoping for this love to grow at the first ever Love Drama camp. Well, five years down the line I’m definitely no longer shy and I’ve experienced many aspects of theatre and my love of the arts hasn’t died, but has grown dramatically! Instead of writing about my best and worst memories and what I’ve learned, I thought I’d just write about some of the people I’ve worked with over this time and what they as individuals have taught me.
Stephen Hawkins: one of the first assistant teachers to appear at Love Drama camps, and I’ve worked with him many times over five years. Stephen is a very flamboyant and lovable character, who isn’t afraid to show off his personality to the world. He taught me that it’s not a crime to be who you want to be. As long as you have the confidence to put yourself out there and be the person you know you are inside, you’re invincible! He showed me that being different is the same as being wonderful, and that diversity is something we should celebrate rather than discriminate against.
Mark Dempsey: led the first theatre camp in Easter 2011, now known as one of the men on the Richmand Sausage advert (the one with the accordion). He showed me that it’s all well and good to be a happy person, but to spread that joy creates a happier world. Just making people smile once in a day can create so much satisfaction, and if you can make people laugh people will love you for it. It’s better to have the whole world smile back at you than it is to have a small moment of glee alone.
Helen Raw: Helen has led several film making workshops and has also worked alongside the improv academy for Five Minute Theatre entries. She is a living example of someone who really does it all; film making, acting, singing etc. She showed me that if you work as hard as you can, you can achieve anything. You can do what you love every day of your life and never look back. She also encouraged us to let our imaginations run wild, as nothing is too strange or impossible to achieve!
Kirsten McCrossan: saving the most important till last! Kirsten has watched me grow from a girl to a young woman and has been a very influential part of my life, guiding me not only in acting but also in other aspects of life as many things she teaches through Love Drama apply to everyday situations. She has shown me that dreams aren’t just in your sleep, that if you have a passion or an idea you can make it a reality. She has proved that encouraging a passion for drama in others keeps dreams alive, and that with it you can create memories that will never die. She’s taught me that if you really love something then you fight for it and do anything to keep it alive. She’s been an amazing mentor and I’m really going to miss her! She’s done so much for me without asking for anything in return, so thank you Kirsten, for everything!
Of course there are so many more people that have made my time at Love Drama memorable. Each member of the Love Drama, past and present, I’ve had a history with, some longer than others but each one of them means a lot to me. I wasn’t the best actor by any means, there’s some amazing talent in that group!
So sure, you won’t see me involved in any scandalous Eastenders plotlines, I won’t be releasing a number one album any time soon and I won’t sell a best-selling novel, but who cares? Drama and the arts will always be something I carry on through later life, and I’m so glad my journey started with Love Drama!