Hello, 2020!

Someone told me I would get more work as a mum. Deep down I felt that becoming a mum would be the end of my career (which I hardly even had!).

Well, that person was right and I was wrong. I know that this job comes in waves, I also know that being a mum is an extremely marketable casting. Also, the industry, in my view, is slowly opening more to real diversity. Having a great agent has also helped. And more importantly, I know that because I wasn’t always working before becoming a mum, getting more frequent work (even though I’m still not always working) feels like it’s going way better, lol.

Still, if you’d have told me 8 years ago I’d have the lead role in any play in London I would have laughed. When the RSC showed interest in a Mexican story and therefore I ended up performing up there in Stratford-upon-Avon for a summer a couple of years ago, my eyes opened a little bit and I was living in disbelief and gratitude the whole time.

When I heard that the Gate Theatre (one of my favourite theatres in London) was staging a Mexican novel and were looking for Mexican actors for the lead part, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. I was still skeptical but impressed the doors seemed to be opening. When I was invited to audition I was thrilled. When I personally witnessed the Artistic Director go and search for Latin American actors, I was in awe (could this actually be happening?). When I was invited to audition for a second time and then a third time, I was nervous. When I got the job, I was beyond myself. Completely ecstatic. My heart proud, and filled with gratitude.

Then I read the novel ( I had only read extracts) and I totally freaked out. If you haven’t read Faces in The Crowd by Mexican genius author Valeria Luiselli, you totally should. Not a straightforward novel though, which is great, but for my first big role on stage? Hmm, I don’t know. Anyway, I was genuinely petrified. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off.

The rest is history I suppose. The job is done now, but it’ll never be dusted. I’ll carry it with me forever. It was a transformative experience in many ways. Ellen McDougall is one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with and I will always be thankful for the trust and confidence she had in me. The cast and crew were all incredible at what they do but were also the most supportive human beings throughout the run.

Doing this play was a great exercise in courage for me. For years I was terrified of improv. But life just keeps throwing projects at me where I’ve had to just get out of my head. This play was devised and we had to do a lot of improv and playing in the beginning. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that I loved that, but I totally did.

It’s difficult and perhaps even boring to go into what the play was about. It was there and now it’s gone. And these photos below I’ll treasure for ever. Thank you life, and thank you everyone who has supported me along the way.

Some reviews here:

https://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/faces-in-the-crowd-los-ingravidos-review

https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2020/faces-in-the-crowd-review-at-gate-theatre-london-unafraid-to-be-wild-and-messy/

https://stagedoorapp.com/lyn-gardner/review-faces-in-the-crowd?ia=416

Lovely friends that came to see the show.
Dressing room: the beginning vs the end.
Mexican Embassy coming to support us.
Pub outing after opening night.
Castmates and I came here for lunch a lot. Patty and Bun in Notting Hill – SO good.
Press
Valeria Luiselli and Christina MacSweeney with cast and crew (Alfonso Cuarón was on the other side of the photo).
I had throat ordeals during previews. Got better with natural remedies and homeopathy – honestly, my homeopath deserves a medal. I’m going to write a blog just on it.
Last show!

2018

We’re actually in 2019 with some new exciting things about to happen in 2020 but 2018 was a busy year and I don’t want to jump over it.

Day of the Living, RSC

This project actually started a few years ago as an R&D. It was fab but didn’t really go anywhere afterwards until the RSC got in touch with Amy Draper (the director), inviting her to take part at the RSC’s Mischief Festival. Nearly all the cast from a few years ago plus some amazing additions got reunited for this. It was an unforgettable experience. I moved up to Stratford-upon-Avon and my family traveled up and down every week.
The play was completely devised and it was inspired on the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico in 2014. It was a privilege to give voice to the survivors of this atrocity and an honour to remember those who are still missing. Career-wise, this job stretched me in every way. I had to sing, dance, do mask work, play instruments and even rap.
Spider-Man Far From Home, MARVEL
I was officially part of the MARVEL world, although practically speaking, my scene didn’t make the final cut so I’m not actually in the film which was slightly disappointing. However, that day on set, I’ll never EVER forget nor ever take for granted.
Sonnet Sunday, SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE
The whole theatre was covered in sonnets, some were written about on walls, screens, theatre…and many of them were told by an incredible group of actors who were scattered about all over the Globe. Then we would all gather on the main stage, and for the first time in my life, I was given the opportunity to perform on it with these two legends, Paul Jenkins and Peter Hamilton Dyer. I will never forget it. What an opportunity!
Nosocomial, CAMDEN PEOPLE’S THEATRE
This has been one of those works-in-progress which are great fun because even though our first time rehearsing/performing it was 2018, we’ve actually performed it twice again in 2019, the latest being at the Petrie Museum. I’ve learned a whole lot on healthcare science, and have been lucky to work with some wonderful people. Can’t wait for more!

On Small Roles

How to play a small role? I’ve no idea.

How to get into one? Read along…

It is generally acknowledged – in the world of acting – that there is no such thing as a small role.

A role is what you make of it. I firmly believe that, and that’s why I was actually pretty excited about this new role I’m playing (the maid) in The House of Bernarda Alba. I’ve always loved watching plays where the small roles blow my mind. I’m not playing this character with that intention but I’m loving the challenge of finding out who she is when there isn’t that much information about her in the text.

Some of my character’s lines are announcements for example, and I’m finding it challenging to play those lines intentionally but without pulling the focus too much. In some cases I’m not on stage for a long time and then I suddenly appear to deliver one line without interacting with anyone so I‘ve had to find a way of keeping things both simple but meaningful.

So how have I done this?

1. Going old school. Not only have I written a whole bio but I’ve gone detective mode and created a story board with objectives, obstacles, props to play with, timelines, etc. This has been crucial for me to know where my character is coming from, where is she going an why. I know a lot of actors do this with their characters but there’s a lot I’ve had to imagine/invent myself to fill in the gaps for all those scenes my character is not on stage.

2. Channeling my character’s inner animal. In this case, I’m a chameleon. Keeping that in mind has helped me to find my character’s physicality and even play intentions accordingly. I chose a chameleon based on the information I had of my character in the script. I then researched more about chameleons and with that I’ve been able to bring more playfulness to my actions.

3. Thinking about what my relationship is with each character. I stole this one from an actress I’m currently working with. I thought it was brilliant especially when you don’t have many lines. Sometimes a look can say much more than any word so thinking about how I relate to each character in the play has definitely given me something to play with.

4. Finally, squeezing the juice out of each word. Good writers are clever with their words even when they might not have written many for a certain character. Although I’ve intellectualised my character’s intentions, I’ve been warming up my voice by saying my lines and sensing how they sit in my gut. This exercise has made me fully understand my intentions, action them in a certain way or change them altogether.

So there, now I only hope this malarkey has actually been a sensible use of my time!

Mum is Back

Hello there,

It’s been a while since I last wrote something here. My life is SO different now I sometimes don’t know who I am. HA! That’s sort of funny and slightly worrying. It’s like I’m living in a blur. A lovely blur. A tiring blur. A challenging blur. Definitely the best blur of all. It’s been tricky but I wouldn’t change being a mother for the world. I feel complete. Completely messed up. Lol. That was a joke. I’ve been so busy with mum duties that I haven’t put much thought into my career. But life is funny isn’t it? When you want work there’s nothing for ages, and when you’re not looking everything comes up at once!

I wasn’t even close to thinking about acting when all these auditions/jobs started to come up within a space of 2 weeks. I had mixed emotions when it happened; I was mainly excited but also anxious. In a way I couldn’t wait to do something other than mummying, but in another way I wondered if it would be actually possible.

Despite the natural chaos a baby brings, I have a very chilled life at home. I never thought I would say this but I felt out of my comfort zone when thinking about working in London. This wasn’t because I wouldn’t be able to cope with the city or anything like that but mainly because it meant I’d be miles away from my baby. He has been breastfed all his life and he’s not too keen on taking the bottle. That combined with the very little notice you get for these jobs, meant that taking these opportunities on board would be a bit of a stretch.

Thank God for that though. Stepping out into the unknown is never as hard as one originally envisions. For the first job where I played a maid, the director was so ultra cool and understanding that he welcomed me, my baby and nanny (aka husband) to the set for a whole day of filming!

The second job was doing ADR work for a feature film to be released this autumn ( I can’t say which…). This was my first experience doing ADR. I loved it. On the first day I traveled into London with my baby and we hung out at The National Theatre for a while. I thought I was being naive when I put him in the sling for a nap; with lots of things going on around I thought sleep wouldn’t happen…but it did! I found hiding under the stairs particularly dark and useful. In the afternoon, I went to my job and my husband took over. On the second day, my husband helped out as well and off I went to work. Yes, I’m lucky my husband has a flexible job and yes, he’s pretty darn cool too.

Baby sleeping at The National Theatre.

The biggest ‘mummy’ challenge I faced doing this job was plainly said, managing my boobs. I brought my pump to work thinking it’d be easy to pump during breaks. HA! We did have breaks but they were way too short for me to glamorously relax on the toilet seat… luckily I was wearing a blazer thick enough to cover the huge circles of milk leakage on my shirt.Oh, and the pain! I won’t go into that but it was bad. Lol. Professionally speaking, the challenge of this job was saving my voice. I was asked to literally scream and at one point it dawned on me that I had to sing a song for an audition a couple of days later!

So yes, that crazy week ended with me going for a theatre audition at the New Diorama Studios. My husband couldn’t take any more time off to help out so my mother in law came to the rescue travelling all the way down from Nottingham to be with my son for about an hour. A star!


The Ace Team before audition.

Preparing for this audition was uber fun mainly because I kept getting distracted by my little one crawling towards my props and chewing them away. Thankfully and surprisingly I found this hilarious rather than stressful. I incorporated an element of clown into my devised piece which my son loved so I kept doing it over and over again; I learnt it and he giggled so that worked pretty well. I also had to prepare a song. Easy peasy, I mean what baby doesn’t like a bit of singing no matter how lame it may sound? I confess I would have liked to have more time to prepare but I also realised that preparing just enough is good enough. Over preparation can kill creativity and with a baby you have to make the most of the little time you have.

On the day of the audition, travelling to London wasn’t as smooth as I hoped. My hair was a total mess, my trousers were covered in carrot purée and I was debating whether or not to nurse five minutes before auditioning. I did have about 3 minutes to breathe and focus before going in and as soon as I entered I was in a different place, a place that felt like home.

…..ahhhh….bliss all day afterwards….what a gift it is to love what you do…

More soon…je suis back!

“Livet må leves forfra, men kan kun forstås bagfra.”

This blog entry is about Denmark, the lovely place where one of my favorite philosophers is from: Søren Kierkegaard.

Why this random blog?

Because I’m once again touring with the Shakespeare in Performance Project in The Netherlands and last weekend we worked in Copenhagen. Random? Yup. Cool? Hell yeah.

This is what struck me about Denmark:

1. Its quietness
At 8 am in the morning this is what Copenhagen Central station looked like. Empty! We were later told that rush hour is earlier than it is in England but still, Copenhagen is super calm, I mean we went out for a wonder on Saturday and we were all wondering where everybody was!

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2. Its Smørrebrød (better known as open sandwiches)
These are exquisite, not only in taste but also in looks.

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3. Its functionality
Three examples below.
a) Plug sockets above one’s seat on the train. They’ve got this so right. It’s a small thing but it saves time; it’s kind of pathetic to admit it’s annoying to bend down to find a socket but I only admit it now after having experienced the Danish system…all you have to do is reach up and ca-ching!

b) Cars have got a sticker of a clock on their windscreen so when you park in a public parking space all you need to do is move the hand to the appropriate arrival time. Eco-friendly methinks.

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c) Free wifi on train.

4. Its ‘utopic’ feel
Everything seems to be too perfect in Denmark. The houses are all perfectly painted and the streets are clean. The views are like something taken out of a book.

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5. Its slick (Ikea type) design
This is based on the only Danish home I know but still, its style was very different; no carpets, lots of clean white walls, super cool bold lamps and views like this one where you can actually see Sweden on the other side.

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6. Its free-spirited education system
Again, this is based on the only school I’ve ever worked at in Denmark. Plus, it was an international school. Who knows if all schools work in the same way. Most probably not. However, it’s no news that the educational system in the Scandinavian countries is quite unique and what struck me the most about their style was its sense of, erm, freedom. Schedules had been modified because we were coming but it felt like it was absolutely fine to change schedules a million times. We worked on the Merchant of Venice with the students; this pic is of some art work they did.

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Please note: These views are based on a two day experience of the country. Limited but real. And in case you’re wondering…this is what the title of this blog entry actually means: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. What a wise dude Kierkegaard was.

Peace out! X

Shakespeare in Performance Project (week 2)

Week two was all about the LOLs.

We started by getting ready to perform/direct Oliver Twist! Yup, it turns out that the Shakespeare in Performance Project also does a bit of Dickens.

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The highlight of the week was definitely Monday night which involved being unexpectedly pulled over by Dwayne, aka Douane – border control (all clear of course), and a 6 hour long karaoke night!

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Tuesday was a day off and it was also a big food day. All we did was sleep and eat. Mc Donald’s never tasted so good and we then went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese place called Wok near the hotel where we stayed for our final 3 nights.

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We worked at Metameer school over the next three days. This school has different campuses and on Wednesday we worked in one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen. Here are some pics of us (team), the kiddos performing and the school…

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On Wednesday evening one of the teachers invited us over to her place for tea; we had Sunday soup (a Dutch tradition) and homemade quiche. It was lovely.

Evidently, one of the things I loved about the tour was the experience of it all, but from an acting point of view it was great to learn about Shakespeare in an educational context. I performed short scenes every day and played characters such as Quince, Mercutio and Henry V. Directing the plays was also great in that it challenged me to study the characters in a different way and it was fascinating to see what the students would come up with sometimes. Most kids would just do what they were told but there were always some nice and unexpected surprises.

Finally, one of the things I loved about my experience in The Netherlands was being so in tune with God. I learned this job on the go and every day we had to amend the workshops slightly. Last minute changes tend to freak me out a little but praying every morning helped me to ease up and take each moment as it came without overanalysing my moves. I was less critical about my mistakes and enjoyed feeling the presence of God at random moments each day.

Sad to say goodbye to an amazing team but hopefully I will return in the future.

Thanks for reading me!

Shakespeare in Performance Project (week 1)

Week one down. Mental! I still remember flying back from Mexico last week and getting everything ready for the tour, and now I’ve just got one week left in Holland. Seriously time, chill!

Wow, what can I say, I mean if you’re an actor, lover of Shakespeare, interested in TIE and open to different cultures, the Shakespeare in Performance Project is for you! (www.shakespeareinperformanceproject.co.uk)

Having a cool boss and working with fun colleagues is a real blessing so I’m loving this tour partly because of that. Seeing Marc enjoying himself while at work has been very inspiring and encouraging for me. Of course I get nervous, but in this tour you quickly realize that the job is not about you but about the students; and like in acting, when your attention is on the others on stage, then the real magic happens.

I’m evidently loving the car rides to the schools in the morning; I love reading the motorway signs in Dutch (I try), the landscape (yup, lots of windmills), and the people looking super cool riding bikes. Traveling is one of my passions in life and so having this ‘international’ job is a great gift from God. I have enjoyed meeting Dutch teenagers and seeing how they interact amongst themselves and with us.

Here is a photo with one of the teachers at Farel College who gave Katy (fellow actor) and me a pair of school t-shirts to take home with us.

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And here another photo of the three of us having a pizza break in one of the schools.

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But what about accommodation? Well, we are staying in a sort of holiday park called Dennenhoek near a city called Harderwijk. Although we occasionally stay at hotels, Dennenhoek is our main base. This weekend, Marc flew back to England while Katy and I stayed. Here are some pics of what we got up to…

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(Cycled to Harderwijk, visited the windmill with a free tour included, walked through the town, ate nice food, and chilled at home)

My First Ever Crush

When I was 17 years old I spent the summer in an American school in Switzerland……

I went there mainly because my passion for acting had been truncated by the lack of drama resources in my school at the time. I went to a private school in Mexico City and I loved it, but drama wasn’t a subject like you find in many British schools. I desperately wanted to learn how to act and although I can’t remember exactly how I heard about this school, it sounded like I would be able to take some sort of intensive acting course there during the summer. True, I could have possibly found a course closer to Mexico but I liked the holiday combo of travel + creativity and my parents were always on board with it too. I owe them so much!

I had the best of times there because I went with my good old friend Ainara (who shared that passion for travelling with me…not so much for acting), but also because I had my first ever crush on a teacher! The drama teacher of course. He was American, very tall, with darkish-greyish flaky hair, yeah he looked like he was in his 30s, he had cat-like brown eyes and THE best of smiles (at least this is how I remember him). His classes were really fun and it was from him that I first learned that acting is ‘doing’.

In my mind the crush was mutual obviously and when the summer camp came to an end I couldn’t stop dreaming about whether or not we would kiss! Lol. We didn’t, although we did give each other a hug. I wanted to give him something else (note for the dirty minded ~ like a photo or a little souvenir from Mexico) and I actually can’t remember if I did.

But him?! He gave me this envelope with a letter inside and asked me to read it later. We said good-bye, I ran to my room, opened the envelope and read this:

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Erm, erm. How can someone do something like this to a 17 year old girl?! I sobbed and cried for days. Lol. I wanted to go find him, grab him, kidnap him and marry him, but my very wise friend Ainara gave me chocolate bars instead. I remained in love with that man for months!

Today, I look at this letter as one of the best gifts that not only bring me back to one of the best times in my life but also to my first ever memory of my journey into (love) and acting.

Awesome (movie) clips

When I was a teenager I had a ‘film scrapbook’ where I would stick cinema tickets, posters of actors, movies, reviews, etc. Now that I’m pursuing my career in acting, I look back at that hobby with lots of joy. I could spend hours working on my scrapbook just as I could now (except that I don’t have one anymore).

Yesterday, as I was going to bed I felt like watching some of the good films that inspired me to become an actress; I YouTubed them and felt so inspired again that I thought I’d compile the clips here. These films inspired me to act but more than anything to be a better human being.

Scene from Scent of a Woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPSzV4IbwSg&feature=related

Scene from Rudy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27D4k3dCXPg

Scene from A League of Their Own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndL7y0MIRE4

Scenes from Gattaca: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeJlaIc8Fs0

Scene from Good Will Hunting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gfipuaIA68

Scene from Chariots of Fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwyltmUR3MU

Scene from Dead Man Walking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQyYa3DBhNA

Scene from Life is Beautiful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9aKqawdUQ

Scent of a Woman