It's 2012, I’m in a classroom at the London College of Massage. But in my head I’m imagining walking through the lobby of Peacock Theatre, looking for answers. I'm in the middle of an Anatomy test and for the past few months I've been trying to figure out how to remember words like Trapezius, Supraspinatus, Latissimus Dorsi, Semitendinosus, etc, etc. Through using a familiar journey and picturing vivid images, I have taught my self to store information by simply walking through a space in my mind. Or what is more commonly known as a memory palace. Over the next year I will introduce more places to this growing library. The dressing rooms of Alydwych Theatre have the entire list of Carry On films, The hall ways of Dominion have every Shakespeare play and the Peacock Theatre has every muscle and organ I need to pass this test. Months after this exam I will be a fully qualified massage practitioner. My first client lies peacefully in front of me. Her head feels as heavy as a cannon ball in my hands, a sign of trust. And all I keep thinking is 'there's just the two of us'. In this moment I feel more confident then I’ve ever been. I know what to do and how to do it. There is no one looking over my shoulder, no voice in my head telling me I’m going to mess this up. Theres just the two of us. For the first time in my life, in my mind I am free.
Its 2002, i’m drinking alone in a pub in Swiss cottage. My post audition ritual. I’ve just finished round two at Central School of Speech and Drama. I’m replaying the moment they asked me to step out of the room. I was standing in the hall way for what felt like a long time, feeling chaotic inside. I couldn’t remember my lines. Even after hours of reciting them in the mirror. My mind keeps throwing in words a monkey with a type writer wouldn't come up with. The piece I performed was from King Lear, Act 2 Scene 3. The character EDGAR is alone in the woods evading capture, hiding in the “hollow of a tree”. When I came back into the room one of the lecturers was waiting to give me direction. I keep thinking this is their attempt to calm me down, so I can have another go at it. But for me it is already over. Maybe I was just unprepared and could of sought more help. The truth is my struggle to retain information and understanding written words like those in Shakespeare had over whelmed me. I’d come to tell my self that I had simply fallen out of love with it all. I had been a performer since I was 4 years old and acting was a way of avoiding academic pursuits I had found so difficult. In this moment I am unaware of how much this decision will leave a hole in my personalty. Until I find something new to set my mind on I will feel a great loss of identity. For now it seems my escape plan has failed.
It’s 1999, I’m alone in a giant hall taking my GSCES. My tiny desk sits amongst a sea of others. Moments before the room was filled with hundreds of other students. But now they have all receded out of door ways, some of them looking through the windows wondering why I’m still in here. Due to my Dyslexia I have been given extra time at the end of each exam. Time I am grateful for, but does nothing for the feeling of separation I feel from others. As I look back from the present at the boy on his island, I want to tell him that this feeling of isolation won’t last forever. People will try to help him, but only he can leave the island. The journey ahead of him will come with many frustrations. But as he teaches himself how to learn again, the way he needs to, it will bring great strength to his character. Shrugging off these limitations he’ll find ways to turn them into tools others will admire. His speed right now might be slow, but over time will become a great attention to detail. His imagination that was once a distraction, will lead to great visualisations that will improve his memory and creativity. Every fascination he collects on the shores of his island will become trophies of knowledge he’ll be so eager to share. When he’s ready he will rejoin the mainland and be brave enough tell others how he sees it. And just as the shame of separation lifts from his shoulders, someone will say ‘this is beautiful’ and something in his heart will whisper gracefully 'I know’.