Week 34/2023 (part 2): Medieval medicine

Week of 21 August 2023

Medieval medicine

How it started

At the start of the year, I said I wanted to make my 23 for 2023 list into a comfort zone challenge. (If you aren’t familiar with the 23 for 2023 list, I got the idea from Gretchen Rubin about five years ago, when it was 18 for 2018. The idea is simply to make a list of 23 things you want to do in 2023 and then go and do them. In previous years, my list has been the focus of my blog.)

The 23 comfort zone challenges for 2023 concept came after I stepped off Macquarie Wharf onto a tall ship on the second day of 2023. I imagined that would be the first of 23 things I was going to do this year to take me out of my comfort zone.

I started to make a list, thinking that I’d plan some things I wanted to do and leave the other slots open for things that might present themselves unexpectedly like the boat had.

Then I forgot about the list.

On Sunday, I looked at it again. It has 13 things on it. Getting on a boat is one of only two things I’ve done.

The other one, number 13, is “go to an acting class”.

Going to an acting class

I loved acting as a kid, and took Drama in year 12 at high school, which, for a variety of reasons, was not an entirely satisfactory experience. And that was the end of my acting career.

Many years ago, when I visited a GP to seek advice about what I could do to improve my voice projection, one of their suggestions was to take an acting class. Cool, but where?

It’s always been something I’ve wanted to try but I didn’t actively seek out any opportunities. However, ten-year-old me who loved acting refused to be quiet (and was secretly envious of Kramstable, who started drama classes when he was five years old).

A few years ago, Kramstable’s drama school, O’Grady Drama, started an adult acting class, which I wanted to attend. Because I was busy with my uni studies, I didn’t have time, so I said I’d wait until the next year. (Ten-year-old me wasn’t happy. Acting would have been much more fun than studying management.)

Unfortunately, next year didn’t happen.

From memory it’s because they didn’t get enough interest but I guess you can also throw in a pandemic somewhere too. I didn’t think it was going to happen again, but when Kath from O’Grady contacted me at the start of this year and asked if I was still interested, ten-year old me’s answer was absolutely yes!

So now, every Thursday night during school terms since February, I’ve been attending an adult beginner class, which started out with four people and has since grown to five. The plan, if everyone was keen, was to perform a play at Hobart’s one-act play festival, OneFest, later in the year. But there was no pressure. We’d see how we went.

The classes were great and I started to learn about breath control, vocal warm-ups, and articulation (and my personal stumbling block, projection), as well as some movement basics, as we explored different genres of theatre through group pieces, duologues and monologues.

Barb does Macbeth? Why, yes, thank you, I think I will. Is this a dagger which I see before me? Quite possibly.

When it came to the question of OneFest, we all wanted to do it, which was really exciting.

We had a goal!

We started working with the script in early May. It was fascinating to watch it all come together under the guidance of our director, Chris, who has also been Kramstable’s drama teacher for the last five years.

It’s a short one-act play called Medieval Medicine, by Claire Epstein. I was cast in the role of Winifred, mother of the rebellious Adelaide who doesn’t want to marry the lord her parents have matched her up with. Winifred is described as “terribly understanding”, which is something I can do pretty well.

A woman on a stage dressed in a red and white medieval style gown with a white bonnet
I look terribly understanding, don’t I? (Photo by OneFest)

It was cool to see how something can start with a group of people sitting around reading a script, through the line learning phase, the blocking, set design, and costume selection (thanks, Hobart Repertory Society wardrobe), to an actual performance in a theatre in front of a real audience!

OneFest 2023

A promotion tile for OneFest, Hobart's One-Act Play Festival, 25-26 August 2023

The venue for OneFest was the Playhouse Theatre, which is a beautiful old theatre in Bathurst Street that hosts this festival every year. We were scheduled to perform last in the Saturday afternoon session, which gave us time to see a couple of the earlier performances before it was time to go backstage to prepare and try to not get too nervous.

My greatest fears were that I’d miss my cues and/or that no one would be able to hear me. Remember my voice projection issues?

The time we had to wait seemed to take forever.

We could hear what was happening on the stage, and see the other groups come and go for their performances and the time dragged on, broken up by some last-minute run-throughs of the play. We were definitely ready.

Then it was time to go on stage, and time seemed to speed up immensely. One moment I was sitting on a massive chair behind the curtain in the dark, the next minute the lights went on and we were doing it, and the next moment it was over.

Five actors dressed in medieval costumes on a theatre stage. The character in the middle, dressed in black, is holding something up for the others to look at
We’re on stage for real (Photo by OneFest)

Just like that!

It was an amazing experience.

It was over so quickly I hadn’t even had time to get over the combination of excitement and nerves I’d been feeling at the start, and relax into the performance. It seemed so fast I thought we must have missed an entire chunk of the play. But no, we hadn’t. We’d done the whole thing, people actually laughed, and I’m told even people at the back of the theatre could hear me.


It was a terrific experience and one I will remember for a long time.

Thanks to my wonderful cast-mates and to Kath and Chris for all their hard work. Thanks to OneFest for the opportunity to perform, to my lovely friends and family who came along to see it, and to the adjudicator, Ivano, for his supportive and encouraging feedback.

I’m excited for what we’re going to do next.

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