Holly Parnell

To Finally Give People A Voice

I think I’ve always had a passion for, for theatre. I mean as early as I can physically remember I I I remember, you know my Saturdays being filled with you know I didn’t really, I didn’t really play with dolls, I didn’t really you know have a, have a Barbie dream house, I wan, I wanted to make stuff, I wanted to create something and I wanted to show people. And I didn’t really understand why, at the time.

I mean at the time I was just like, yeah let’s make a show and I didn’t understand why everyone else was like oh but we made a show week or we, we made a show yesterday I would say, Yeah well we’ll just do another one. I remember being at Brownies, so what I must have been like eight, or something and forcing everybody to put on this, production of Beauty and the Beast. And we held auditions and I think this girl called Lucy I think her name was played, oh no she was like Mrs Pots and I think it was my friend Keisha who was Belle and I played the beast because I think I was probably the the tallest one out of everyone. And, and just trying to direct everyone and getting really angry when when the Brown Owl was trying to be all inclusive to everyone, and I was like NO! No, no we’re we’re direct, this is theatre, this is really serious. And and getting pissed off when people didn’t show up on a Saturday. Because why would they, like its brownies, like it’s bad enough you have to go on a Friday why would you show up on a Saturday. But, I yeah, I I just I loved it, I loved it and, and when we eventually put that play on, you know no one knew what they were doing no one knew the lines. I was pushing people on stage I play, I think I ended up just playing every role dressed as like, I’d sort of like come on with a cloak and go off and back comb my hair a bit and then come on as the Beast and then, oh god it was a disaster and hilarious but it, that was when I really realised I, I, I loved acting and directing and and just, and creating stuff, I loved it!

Urm, and I think that was a lot down to like my family as well. They were very much, urm, helped me along the way, they you know spent years sort of dragging me off, well you know taking me up to like to ballet and to tap and modern and and drama school on a Saturday where I would go and you know pretend to like, I don’t know, we, It we wasn’t, we didn’t really do that much if I’m honest like but you know, the, the hundreds and hundreds of pounds and spent on costumes and and taking us places and you know their lost weekends because we were doing a show and they had to come and chaperone and things. So yeah it was definitely like, I I if I, I didn’t have the support of my family I don’t think I ever EVER would be in the position, a very privileged position that I’m in now where I’ve been able to then go to urm, the Dorset School of Acting and and do my, do foundation course there and of course, had I not gone there I never would have met josh. Who has now become my partner in crime and and you know not only have we established an amazing friendship but also a professional relationship that is just thriving. Urm and we you know have now created Riot Road.oice.

And I think that’s come out, one both out of a a need to to create and and and explore and and just you know, be theatrical and and learn and and you know sort of like poke the, stoke the fire a little and see what we can we can come up with. Urm, its its yeah yeah it’s a need it’s a need. And I think you know people say to you would you, would you you could just go and get a full time job you know behind a desk and and you know not not be getting to be end of the month going I’m starving and I’m like yeah yeah I totally could and I would be great at that I would be so good at it. But I can’t because I need to do this there’s this, this fire in my belly that just creeps, you know this need to crate and say something. And you know and and allow people to have their say. Allow, you know create this platform in which people can be can be given a voice, for the first time for a lot of people, be given a voice and actually say what they’re thinking.

And also you know we do a lot of our interviews and we get people saying, it you, like god it’s like therapy. And it’s not you know we’re not, we’re not therapists we, you know, we’ve had no training and were definitely not claiming to do that. Were just asking people to tell us their story. You know, where were you born. Tell us , tell us how you got from where ever you were born, here to now. And really, nine times out of ten that the only question we ask people. And it’s so refreshing for someone to actually want to listen. That these people, you know they, they come out with the most amazing, brave stories that they might have never told anyone. And quite often that happens they go, to be honest I’ve never really told anyone this and you know I was worried that it was going to come up but actually I’m really, I’m really glad that I’m saying it because it’s the first time I’ve actually ever said it out loud and it’s okay. And I feel safe. And I know that your listening. And your not judging. You just simply are interested.

We interview some people that maybe haven’t spoken to people in a really really long time. Not properly. You know they might go to the corner shop and say hey how are you doing, yep just getting my pint of milk today as I do every day. Oh, weathers a bit, iffy probably going to rain isn’t it. But nobody actually says yeah, there was a time in my life where I couldn’t get out of bed. There was a time in my life that the thought of leaving the house genuinely terrified me. And I’ve never told anyone that. And that, that for us is one, really really really important, to them. Finally being able to get this out and say it and really really important for them. But it’s also really important to the people who we haven’t come in contact with, that eventually we will come in contact with that will sit and listen to that and go wow, I know exactly where you’re coming from because I feel the same. And I feel so alone and isolated, and I felt ashamed and I felt like no one would understand but actually, were all feeling certain ways and we need to learn and realise that were not alone.

And okay yeah right now our piece is focused on urm you know the LGBTQ community and, you know gay men, straight men, gay women, straight women, transgender men, transgender women, drag queens, drag kings, you uh a a whole plethora of of of people that have come into contact with us and you, it’s not all positive. But it depends where you stand so you know there might be people that might not be the the the number one supporters of the LGBT community but they do have some valid points. And it’s not that saying yeah we totally agree with you and actually we you know taking all these steps forward we’ve we shouldn’t be doing that let’s go, let’s go back we don’t need… it’s not about that, it’s about just learning about other people’s opinions and just understanding where they’re coming from and why they feel like that, because you don’t know why. You you don’t know why you never know why and so this is is you know its its not only a celebration of people’s lives and their bravery. But it also a learning platform so so we can begin to understand where everybody is coming from and then, begin to move forward. Because otherwise you know it’s just tit for tat, it’s one for the other, the scales are imbalanced we need to okay yeah we might not all be able to agree, but we can certainly move forward and, and Riot Road, that’s that’s all were trying to do. Create a voice to give people the chance to stand up and say what they may otherwise never be able to say. And that’s, that that is fundamentally the the most important thing we care about. To give to finally give people a voice.

Prefer Not To Say

The Vault Theatre
2 Aug - 26 Aug 2019
13:30 BST

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