SUDS TO STAGE …. My journey with the Big River Bakery By volunteer Yvonne Hinckesman
My role in the bakery is to support and oversee a young man. He is from the NeuroDiverse Spectrum and is employed to be a kitchen porter.
Twenty-two months ago, I was asked by Andy Haddon if I would like to join the team and oversee an autistic worker who was struggling to adapt in the workplace. I accepted the offer at once because this opportunity would boost my self-confidence since suffering from a major heart attack the previous year and give me the chance to demonstrate my therapeutic abilities, as well as being of an aid to someone in need.
The position to date, has been for two days a week, so it worked out perfectly to coincide with my other interests of painting artwork at Shieldfield Art Works (formerly the Holy Biscuit) as well as my various courses with Converge at Northumbria University.
I still needed to pace myself, as once a fortnight at my local church, I would serve on the team for the children, teaching them topical Bible verses and crafting ideas.
Today have had no problem in managing my interests, as well as making time for my pet dog Merlin and of course myself.
Whilst attending Converge at Northumbria University, I attained drama and script writing skills leading me to perform my own work as monologues.
In December 2022 I received an email from the manager of Converge, inviting me to follow a link from the Theatre Royal here in Newcastle upon Tyne. Excitedly the link invited individuals in the community to apply for a supporting role in the future showing of Julius Caesar in May 2023.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has developed a new project to incorporate members of the community where they are performing to be in the choir/ chorus to support the cast. There was a certain criterion to meet and fortunately I met the requirements I needed to be a champion for a worthy cause and to be a worker or a volunteer in making a difference to a business or an individual.
Having worked in the bakery as a mentor. I have dedicated my time to be part of a team who care about people through a staple need, BREAD.
Therefore, I knew that I had to champion the BIG RIVER BAKERY, this fantastic growing community hub.
I was shortlisted and six of us from the area were given a role of being FATES; higher beings who can foresee the future and will forewarn tragic future events.
So, my role at the Theatre Royal based in Grey St Newcastle upon Tyne was prestigious and envied. I couldn’t believe my luck. How amazing is this? I was privileged to rehearse with the Royal Shakespeare cast, physically and vocally. The management teams at Newcastle and Stratford upon Avon theatres were conscientious, professional and extremely helpful and kind to us all.
The rehearsals beginning in March, were intense but fun and the other five FATES were great to be around. I miss them today because we really bonded well together.
Stepping onto the stage for the first time to an empty auditorium was so exciting and wonderful to see all of the architecture and grandeur of the theatre which can be missed when one is sitting in the stalls. Myself, Dotty and Samantha, two of the other FATES, belted out the song New York, New York, to project our voices up to the rafters! It was exhilarating to hear we echoed in harmony.
My performances were for each evening Tuesday to Saturday, as well as Thursday and Saturday afternoon matinees.
On the first evening’s performance I was so chuffed knowing that Andy and Gail were in the audience. After giving it my all and ready to bow, looking up I could see GAIL and Andy cheering me on! Fantastic, magnificent and a wonderful wonderful experience. I felt proud and honoured to be representing them.
I had stepped into a different world, and who would have believed that one day I’m home with my dog Merlin and the next I’m a thespian performing on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
My costume was a high waisted black skirt and a long-sleeved black top, obviously black gave the appearance of being mystic, spiritual and eerie. I put my all into owning the part.
After the show on Wednesday evening, Newcastle Lady Mayor Karen Robinson came to see us, the Community Chorus, and made us feel extra special especially when we posed for a photograph. She commented that I looked like Bonnie Tyler! Blimey that’s a first, usually I’m told I resemble Gloria Estefan!
Friday after the show I was nominated to represent the FATES at an after-show panel to answer any questions that members of the audience may have about the show.
Before the final performance on the last day Saturday May13th it was made was truly special as we six FATES were presented with souvenirs from the Theatre Royal and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
I now have a feature of myself in the Newcastle upon Tyne Julius Caesar programme, and signed by all of the cast, also a framed photo, an historic book about our theatre and thank you cards. A special diva highlight on Wednesday 10th, was receiving roses delivered to the stage door, care of the Royal Shakespeare Company! I thank you Big River Bakery, three weeks on they were still going strong!!
Therefore, to sum up my past few months, I’ve had a life changing experience, filled with pride, praise, discipline, direction and most of all forging new friendships.
Big River Bakery you are an inspiration and to have given me the courage, opportunity and dedication to perform for the good of the community, I love you all.
It has been a pleasure to champion you.