From start to take off: Melissa Woodburn on starting off in the Arts.

For Salford Youth Day we’re taking a look at how some of our young people have changed their lives by working towards an Arts Award qualification at The Lowry. In this blog, Melissa Woodburn talks us through how her time with The Lowry has led to setting up her own community theatre company ‘Honeycomb Theatre.’

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I first became involved with The Lowry back in 2012 and this is how my whirlwind began. At 18 years old I found out I was going to be a mother to my little girl Ruby, this changed my life forever. From the day I knew that Ruby was going to be born I knew I would do anything and everything in my reach to set the bar high for myself. I knew her little eyes would be watching from then on.

When Ruby was four months old I started taking her to a Surestart Centre and there I met Lynsey O’Sullivan (Engagement Manager at The Lowry). Lynsey was working on a project for The Lowry to bring interactive story telling into the centre. After getting talking about my past and things I had loved to do we then exchanged numbers and later met for a chat over hot chocolate, yum! Lynsey was an inspiration she made me feel like I can do whatever I wanted to do and no doors had closed only opened. From then on my adventure began.

I was invited to help take part in the then Christmas appeal (now Focus Projects) for The Lowry, that year the focus was on working with young parents. With this being a success I was asked to be a cast member in a piece of children’s interactive story themed around ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’. These opportunities only made me more determined to head for my dreams. Next I was given a huge opportunity to take part in a Gold Arts Award I took this with an open mind and knew this would have been a new challenge for me. Whilst doing my Arts Award I have learnt so many different things and got to explore some amazing theatre and other art forms that usually I wouldn’t have experienced before. Things were just heading up up and away.

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The Lowry won a Children and Young People’s awarded in London for its well-deserved work with children and young people across the City of Salford. I was overwhelmed to be asked to attend the awards and represent The Lowry. Amazing theatre, amazing people!

In November 2015 I took part in the Learning and Engagement Showcase as a panel member for discussion and delivering a reading of The Hedgehog and Her Hoglet. In May this year I was asked to be 1% for the performance of 100% Salford. The performance tours the world relating to each country not only me me me (boring me) but for Ruby my daughter to be involved too I was over the moon you can still see this via the Lowry

Finally, all of this has given me the courage to pursue my own pathway. I decided to form a theatre company called ‘The Honeycomb Theatre Group’ with a focus on reality performances, I choose my favourite play wrote by Shelagh Delaney; A Taste of Honey. This amazing piece of theatre was first brought to life in the 1950’s and later became a popular classic which directors and companies still choose to perform today, there is only a handful of touching plays which never leave our stages so I choose to deliver my own devised piece of theatre based on this masterpiece.

Honeycomb Theatre decided to select extracts from the play and with a modern unique twist put our own style on the classic story. The whole cast and crew are excited to perform our piece and are not only performing once but three times; twice at The Lowry this September and once in a incredible theatre which will be based in Eccles called The Roundabout.

Things seem to be just taking off in front of our eyes and we are so happy to be a young company that are relying on each other to be a success. We don’t want to just stop at one show, we will be continuing to work together whether that be within the community and coming together to form a group that people can attend and learn from or if we decide to choose another performance and take to the stage again.

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We’re excited to be on our way and we can’t thank The Lowry enough and I surely couldn’t imagine not having this place as part of my success. Come watch our show Salford’s Taste of Honey at The Lowry on Thu 1 September.

Thankyou for all your support.

Written by Melissa Woodburn Founder of The HoneyComb Theatre Group.

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