Tuesday, 22 June 2021

COMING HOME: Amelia Atherton, soon to be touring the UK in Waitress the Musical

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

The pandemic has been a terrible time for theatre, no doubt. Not only has work been sparse or completely shut down but the lack of finical help for freelancers working across our industry has been catastrophic. It's not a time to compare people experiences because this is a time we all must pull together and rebuild this amazing thing we once had and to also build it back up with the knowledge and awareness we now have to make this a safer and better industry. A group of people who have been highlighted as a priority to make sure we are looking after is our recent graduates, those who left drama schools in 2020 and now those who are leaving as fresh 2021 graduates. Leaving drama school and entering this crazy industry is tough for anyone but for those who have entered it when the industry has been pretty much derelict, well, I can’t even imagine how intimidating that might feel. 

Someone among these students who have been released into this industry in these uncertain times is Amelia Atherton. Graduating from the Performance Preparation Academy, she finished her training in the middle of this pandemic. Speaking to Amelia about how she feels she’s changed since graduating and living in this strange world right now, she tells us how amazing she thought her experience in drama school was but how she almost lost who she really was; “I think the three years had just really tired me out. I learnt so much but I do feel that I’d almost forgot who I was. This year has helped me remember I’m a whole person with a whole life outside of being an actor.” So whilst this has been a testing year, there are many lessons we as creatives must take away from this. The industry can be very consuming and we mustn’t ever forget our identities as people, we’re not just theatre people, there is so much more to all of us. 

Despite this very odd year and a half we’ve had, Amelia has taken the bull by the horns and has embraced every opportunity that has come her way. She has worked multiple times with ‘The Grad Fest’, a company dedicated to showcasing and developing new drama school graduates. She has performed with them at the Cadogan Hall and was also in their production of ‘Next Thing You Know’ at the Garden Theatre, for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical at the Offie Awards. She also has worked with ‘Spotlight on the Future’ in a show where graduates teamed up with industry professionals to duet. 

What's most exciting for Amelia is that she will be joining the touring cast of Waitress. The musical, fresh from its run at the Adelphi Theatre (where our shoot took place), will be touring the UK and Amelia joins in the ensemble of the show whilst also covering the roles of Becky and Nurse Norma. We wanted to know from Amelia whats she’s most excited about and she tells us it's all about that first moment in the costume, “Honestly there’s just something I love about the costume, hair and makeup that gets me so excited and in character. I think the moment I try on my cover Becky dress for Waitress I will finally realise it’s all real.” 

As someone who is still fresh to this industry but has been on a journey in this short amount of time, she does certainly have some intelligent and important words of advice to share; “Don’t compare your journey to anyone. Ever. It’s the worst thing you could do. We all have different journeys and it can feel frustrating when yours doesn’t seem like it’s working out, but just keep going.” Moving forward, as we all start to open the world up again, this couldn’t be more important. Comparing each of our journeys in life is not a healthy or productive thing to do, we must follow our own journeys but equally, celebrate each others success. 

Speaking to Amelia about how she thinks we can improve this industry and make it more inclusive, she points out that many of the systems in theatre have been running for years, almost on autopilot, so its time for us all to work towards switching that and improving our workplaces. “It’s time for everyone to have a bit of a revamp in the way they approach productions. All the way from ensuring diversity is present in the cast AND creative teams to make sure working environments feel safe for all employees.” 
Waitress will be touring the UK from the 4th September 2021, opening at the New Wimbledon Theatre before heading off to play a theatre near you! This show was so beautiful in London and with some of the West End cast like Lucie Jones, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins leading the show plus all the fresh talent who are new to the Waitress family, Amelia included, we cannot wait to catch this show on the road.

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