5 August 2020
“Hey I’m Francesca Goodridge, or Fran, or Chesc, or Francesca if i’m in trouble. I’m an actor, singer and theatre director from Swansea.
I’m super lucky to be one of the first recipients of the Carne Traineeship for Directors in Wales at Theatr Clwyd. My role there lasts for 18 months where I assist on the productions, work in each department to learn how a building operates, and I get to direct my own show at Clwyd at the end of it all- which is really dreamy! I’m also the co-artistic director of The Far Away Plays, with Llanelli born actor and legend Scott Arthur, which was launched during lockdown. I’m a performer, although I feel like that’s gone on the back burner whilst I’m training at Clwyd, but I still love performing, and can’t wait to be back on a stage again.
So often our stories are told by men (brilliant men- don’t get me wrong!) but I think its so important to make sure we are also telling our own stories too. It wasn’t until as little as a few months ago I realised, hold on-I can make my own work? More and more I’m calling myself a theatre maker rather than an actor or a director, I hate being pigeon holed as we all do, and our industry is the worst for it. It’s important for me to know that I can express myself creatively, as a woman, and tell the stories I care about and think are important without needing to be asked to do it, or to audition for it, or to apply to be in the room- I can decide (OK funding also decides!) what is important to me as a creative, and to share those stories in Wales and hopefully beyond.
During our third year at drama school (I went to LIPA) me and a great friend of mine, Evie Pickerill, thought that the women in our class weren’t getting as much of a showcase with our third year casting as the guys, and we had such brilliant women in the class it seemed totally bonkers. So, we decided to put on an our own all female musical, and we did SHOUT! The Mod Musical, which is a 60’s jukebox show. I fancied having a go at directing, it was something I was always really interested in when we had external directors come into the drama school, and as an actor I was always so much more interested in what everyone else was doing around me on the stage! We put on the show at LIPA, took it to Edinburgh fringe for 2 years, and then it transferred to The Royal Court in Liverpool, which was incredible to direct and be a part of such a special, huge journey with some of my best friends and incredible women. From there, I carried on acting, but wanted to continue to pursue directing too, so luckily the legend that is Kate Wasserberg took me in at The Other Room as trainee director for a year, and introduced me to another total legend, Tamara Harvey at Clwyd, and so I just continued to assist, learn and grow as a director, supported and surrounded by these wonderful women who I admired greatly.
Creating The Far Away Plays was all totally Scott, I can’t take any credit there! He had the idea to do an online play reading whilst we all went a bit stir crazy in lockdown, and we kept chatting about how to do a big reading (initially it was going to just be one reading of Under Milk Wood) then we thought, why don’t we just do them weekly and give people some creative time together, and so The Far Away Plays was born. It’s been bonkers, and brilliant, and way more than either of us initially thought it would ever be- and I’m super chuffed and proud of what we’ve managed to achieve in this short time (I say we, I mean Scott, I really do just sit there and make jokes whilst he does all the hard stuff!)
Over the last few (very weird) months, although there’s an abundance of negatives, one positive is that I can see more people realising that the industry isn’t in a great place and so we have no other option than to strive to make our own work. The announcements from people receiving stabilisation grants, and R&D’s is brilliant, and although it’s a tough horrible time, I think people have so much creativity they need to outpour and we will have more brilliant stories and new work emerging and being developed. Seeing other women who I admire running buildings, running companies, writing plays, receiving funding, making work, is so empowring. People are so resilient, especially artists, and I’m so empowered by other people who carry on creating in the darkest of times, because that’s when we need it most.
Next, I’ll be heading back to North Wales, and getting straight back into my traineeship a Clwyd, who have been totally brilliant during all this. I’ve also received ACW funding to develop a new musical with the brilliant Daniel Lloyd, about a real life story of a totally wonderful woman from North Wales during the 60’s, who went from Miss Wales to Miss World and had a totally bonkers life. We’re currently interviewing lots of previous Miss Wales winners, and people involved in pageantry, and people from the village she lived who remember her- it’s been fascinating! I’m really looking forward to developing that with a load of people in a room…together…an actual rehearsal room..whenever that may be!”
Find Fran here: