People's Vote videos: we talk to Noah, Rhiannon and Jacob from ALRA North

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Emerging actors Noah Olaoye, Rhiannon Clements, and Jacob Butler are studying at or graduates from ALRA North drama school in Wigan. Write Out Loud is very grateful for their help in performing the shortlisted poems in the People’s Vote videos for our Beyond the Storm competition.

 

My name is Noah Olaoye, I'm 21. I was born in Nigeria but left when I was two and was raised in Merseyside. I'm currently in the final stages of my degree at ALRA, in the third year now. I'm a rapper and a spoken word artist outside of my acting life. (I also have a TikTok and a YouTube where I post football content, if that's relevant at all!)

 

How has lockdown been treating you? What have been the frustrations – and any benefits?

The lockdown has been tough. Obviously it affected my studies, with most of my course up in the air and the term being extended to October, when I was due to graduate this month. But in the midst if that I've taken some time to learn about myself and be free! I started a TikTok, something I was too scared to do before, and now it has 60k followers. I've also been fortunate to have signed with an agency and I've been getting a few auditions here and there.

 

How big a part does poetry play in your life? Do you think that it’s had more influence generally during lockdown?

I've always loved words. My mum has a degree in English and presented on TV, and my dad is a pastor, so I have essentially been raised by orators! I studied English literature myself in college and  my favourite playwright is the Bard himself - his penmanship is unmatched. As previously mentioned, I rap, but my raps have a message and a meaning. I did my dissertation about spoken word poetry during lockdown, so I have been in a wordy environment this quarantine.

 

Thanks for your part in helping us raise funds for the NHS in this time.  How do you feel about the NHS personally?

The NHS is VITAL for us. They do so much for everyone and it's important that they remain supported and duly funded so they can continue their courageous work, especially in this current climate.

 

embedded image from entry 105135 I’m Rhiannon Clements, and I’m 25. I graduated from drama school last year and live in Manchester at the moment. I won the Spotlight Prize best stage actor in 2019 and since then have worked on BBC shows such as Doctor Who and The Other One, at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and on a Fox production film directed by Kenneth Branagh.

 

How has lockdown been treating you? What have been the frustrations – and any benefits?

Lockdown’s been a strange one. All work went almost completely overnight, like for most freelancers, and as I was just about to begin rehearsals for The Glass Menagerie at The Royal Exchange in Manchester, it was a shock. I found things difficult to adapt to at times, like not knowing what’s what, and feeling the obvious stress everyone shared. But I also found lockdown to be a time where I really could gather myself and spend some time stepping back, to do things I’d put to one side.  I’ve been connected with my family and friends via Zoom, using time to read, exercise, watch theatre and TV, and trying to utilise lockdown as best I can.

 

How big a part does poetry play in your life? Do you think that it’s had more influence generally during lockdown?

I love poetry.  It is a form that allows expression that isn’t always expressed, if that makes sense. It takes things to a new plane that we don’t articulate in life, it stimulates ideas, provokes emotions, and communicates language. It’s an outlet, as someone who struggles to articulate or sometimes process emotions and thoughts,  that I find valuable and beautiful.

 

Thanks for your part in helping us raise funds for the NHS in this time.  How do you feel about the NHS personally?

My mum is a sister in the NHS, so it’s something close to my heart, particularly at the moment. I think NHS workers are absolute superheroes and always have been - and I’m incredibly grateful for them.

 

 

embedded image from entry 105137 My name is Jacob Butler, I am an actor, improviser and poet from Hull, now living in Manchester. I graduated from ALRA North in 2019, and since then, I have been lucky enough to appear in Peter Pan at Hull Truck, and film for Boys, a new Channel 4 drama, coming later this year.

 

How has lockdown been treating you? What have been the frustrations – and any benefits?

Lockdown has been okay. I was on lockdown with a friend, and it gave me time to do things I never would have had time to do before. Of course, there was the constant, general, Covid-themed anxiety. But I was pleasantly surprised how quickly we adapted to the ’new normal’.

 

How big a part does poetry play in your life? Do you think that it’s had more influence generally during lockdown?

Poetry plays a big part in my life. I am a big fan of words, and so reading and writing poetry has always been a great short-term escape for me. Whether it’s deep exploration of a complex idea, or just a fun, silly bit of wordplay, I love them all equally. During lockdown I wrote a poem called ‘Poem-19’ and turned it into a short film. The film really took off, and was featured on the radio and at the BBC’s National upload festival. During lockdown, all we had was time to think, read and write. So poetry fitted the bill, really quite nicely.

 

Thanks for your part in helping us raise funds for the NHS in this time.  How do you feel about the NHS personally?

I’ve always had massive respect for the NHS. In my opinion, it’s one of our country’s greatest assets. It’s integral that we support our NHS in every way we can, and I just hope people remember, in the big political decisions to come, how reliant we have been and continue to be, on our NHS.

◄ 'I reach out also to my sister, bereft and alone'

Countdown to the People's Vote! Your chance to take part in the closing stage of Write Out Loud's poetry competition ►

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