Gemma is a culture blogger, theatre fan, Journalism graduate and is on a mission to highlight the cultural wonders across the North East. We also talked about how the Edinburgh Fringe Festival cured her fear of heights, and Gemma appearing in a music video!
Thanks for your time Gemma! Can you give us a quick one minute overview about you?
Not sure about one minute but I can try. I am a Journalism Graduate who likes to blog about North East Culture and my journo journey- which you can read here
What is your earliest memory from theatre and culture? What sparked your interest?
Hmm I have so many, when I was younger I used to get involved in local dance and drama groups and perform on stage so that was my first experience of theatre. I then went to study drama, dance and performing arts at school – again performing and learning the history of the art.
But I suppose what sparked my interest in writing about it was my Grandma- she entered me into the Evening Chronicle Competition where I got to review theatre and music performances. I did not win but I sure loved seeing my name in the paper and writing about theatre.
Tell us about some of the places that you have performed in
I have had a west end stage experience with the Sunderland Empire stage experience – with that project I have been in Boogie Nights and Oliver. That was a great experience, you feel like a proper West End star. I have also appeared at Queens Hall and some other smaller local theatres.
What are your ambitions in terms of your career?
At university I would have been able to give you a straight answer, but now I am not so sure. I have been getting work experience in arts marketing/pr/communications so maybe something in that? Or perhaps going down the magazine route, to be honest I still have no idea and it is a scary path to go down at the moment if I am honest. I hate not having a plan.
I heard a rumour that you have been in some music videos? Tell me more!
You heard right! Yes I appeared in a few music videos by a local band called Vinyl Jacket. They were filmed in some strange places but the videos looked amazing, I am sure if you YouTube them they will be there.
Who is the most interesting/amusing well-known person you have met?
Hmm where do I start? When I wrote for so many publications I got to interview so many famous people like Noel Sullivan, Joe Mcelderry and Matt Edmondson.
But I will tell you a funny story, I often go to London to review theatre and many years ago I was at London and I visited my family who lived close to go around the shops before I went to see my show. And I kid you not we walked passed Aljaz Skorjanec from Strictly Come Dancing along Oxford Street, so we turned around and ran towards him to get a photo and you know what we did it! He was lovely.
Talk to me about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and how it cured your fear of heights!
Every year at the fringe there is a big wheel.
Well I decided to go on the big wheel on my own, it was going around and I was listening to some music enjoying the views of Edinburgh and was thinking this was going really well.
Then all of a sudden it stopped and I didn’t freak out, I actually enjoyed the views and waited till the wheel moved again. Since then I have never been on anything high, so who knows maybe it did cure my fear maybe it stopped me doing something like that again!
You have some great articles on your blog about culture and the theatre, how do you see this developing in future?
Wow thank you very much, well I have got a few new ideas/features for my blog so followers will have to keep their eyes peeled for those. I found out of the recent news that The Journal Culture Magazine is going to be stopping publication, which I am really sad about, so I want to try and engage with more North East Culture artists and organisations to keep North East Culture going on my own blog.
I have always thought about creating a YouTube Channel but I am still thinking about that one.
What is your favourite production?
Oooh that is a good question and it changes all the time.
If we are talking about a musical production I would have to say Wicked or if you asked me about National Theatre I would say Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time. But every time I see a new piece of theatre and it sticks with me then it becomes my new favourite.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to go to the theatre but is a little intimidated by the cultural side?
I would say go to your local theatre and see what’s on there, pick a show and go and see it. Or if you want to go to a larger scale theatre something like the Sunderland Empire, I always say to people that if you have never been to the theatre go and see Curious (mentioned in previous question). It will defy your expectation of what theatre is.
Theatre is accessible for all audiences no matter who or what you are – anyone can go to engage in culture.
Great advice, thanks for your time Gemma!