My name is Ellie Mason. I am an actress, and I’m a background artist and a singer. Really into drama and singing and… I’m into art as well I like doing adult colouring books as well, I just… opportunities I like getting myself out there really.
I went to college and I wasn’t happy at my college, um, it was… it was too stressful for me, um. So my social worker… er, sent me loads of papers, with like…theatre, theatre opportunities for me to do. I didn’t wanna do night classes, er because I was quite young at the time. So I went… to the open day, was really nervous, I’m thinking ‘I’m not gonna join this’ because I get really nervous of new places and stuff. I think, it was a lot of persuasion from Gavin, Gavin Dent and Julia Schauerman, and a lot of the other people persuaded me to try it. And… I’ve… I’ve been with them ever since.
I do actually remember my very first performance, it was ‘Shining Through the Shadows’. I worked with David Munns on a scene of a show that we did, I think that was called ‘Ridiculous Recipes’ if I remember rightly, it was really cool. I enjoy working with him anyway. I also did ‘Ordinary Woman’ piece, it was a 15 minute monologue about my life, what it’s like being in a wheelchair from my perspective. I was sitting in front of an audience on the floor, 15 minutes, and it was really cool to just remember it, try to remember it… and it was really, I think that… that… out of all of the whole of the shows I think that was the (most) stunning piece I’ve ever done.
Spare Tyre works with the artist, um and, speaks to us about what we want to put across. They’re not actually saying ‘right we’re doing this show here’ they give us ideas and we, we… work on them ideas and we work on building characters. But, in a way, it’s all our ideas. You don’t have to worry about… what to say, what to do, I mean they work in a way that it’s play, I like… it’s like improvisation. Once they see, once you come up with an idea and if you don’t like that idea then we, we’ll do it again… and y’know they’re not putting pressure as such… you’re playing really. They work with play and improvisation mainly.
If it wasn’t for Spare Tyre I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. I didn’t have that confidence I was quiet as a mouse when I joined. It was amazing how that confidence has just come out. I would be completely lost without them.
I just got a bond with them and… I feel comfortable around them. I’m a wheelchair-user but when I’m on stage I don’t feel like it. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t get out my chair, for… years. I would not get out my chair. Um, because I was worried about what the audience would have thought. And also what my group would have thought as well. I was a bit, dubious and apprehensive in doing that and I remember Claire saying to me ‘come on, you have to do this’ anyway she got me out the chair. Arti was amazed. She was like ‘right you can get out the chair, you can get out the chair on stage’ and I’m like ‘hang on a minute, no I don’t want to do this(!)’ It’s like, no, (…) we’ll reassure you, everything will be alright and it’s fine now.
People take me for who I am, and I never had that in my previous time at college. There was me and there was other people, I was… I didn’t feel a part of… at my college days and I feel part of this now. Spare Tyre now is like a family to me.
Ellie was part of our inc.Theatre programme when it began in 2002; an accredited drama course for learning disabled adults. An actor, singer and dancer, Ellie has performed in many of our productions, including Feeble Minds and Dark Inc. More recently she starred in Nights at the Circus, which we co-produced with Fauve Alice.
Ellie spoke to us about the contrast between her learning experience with us and at college, and the personal impact Spare Tyre has had on her.