Storytelling: Archaeology, Performance and Editing

I am delighted to use this blog post to introduce myself as a follow-up to our Prism-Clarity autumn newsletter. [If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter click the link here to find out more: you can subscribe at the bottom of the page.] Now feels like as good a time as any to write this blog. I have completed my three-month probation with Prism-Clarity and am looking to the future.

A little bit about me (1): University

A candid photo of my sister and I at my recent MA graduation ceremony (December 2019, Newcastle University).

In July 2017, I graduated with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in Archaeology from Newcastle University. The university’s specialism in Romano-British archaeology was and continues to be amazing. But it was their material culture theory, artefact handling and historical archaeology that interested me most.

I grew up with horrible histories. I had a childhood filled with visits to the Tower of London and the British Museum. It was amazing to learn about how material culture could change and deepen my understanding of time periods I thought I knew. Studying global African and African-American material culture highlighted to me how important archaeology really is. It helps us tell the story on behalf of those without a voice to tell their stories themselves. That was why I decided to pursue archaeology: as a voice for others.

So I specialised in the role of historical and archaeological techniques in studying ‘otherness’ in 15th-17th century London. My undergraduate dissertation explored the role of GIS mapping in understanding theatrical activity, particularly during the English Civil War. And my postgraduate dissertation focused on the application of historical archaeological techniques to 16th/17th century theatre texts. Specifically helping us to understand what the definition of a ‘witch’ was in 16th and 17th century London.

A happy and relieved me at my undergraduate graduation ceremony in July 2017 (Newcastle University).

A little bit about me (2): Performing in NUTS

One of my most important experiences at university was the Newcastle University Theatre Society (widely known as NUTS). It’s a society that I am proud to have performed with across five semesters in five roles. But it’s also one that my dad was involved in while completing his English degree at Newcastle. It was such a life-changing experience that it inspired me to audition for RADA’s Foundation course in Acting. By September 2017 I was a student at RADA.

A little bit about me (3): Acting training at RADA

When people used to ask me what RADA was like, I would always say “it’s like army camp, but with Shakespeare and lots of feelings”. I stand by that description nearly two years on. University had taught me about the importance of research and thinking before committing ideas to paper. RADA taught me about the importance of seeing yourself with prism clarity. Especially the power of words and body language when a sincere truth is being communicated and shared.

A little bit about me (4): Other performance ventures

Other recent experiences include being the lead actress in the award-winning short film ‘SUFUKU’ (2019). It was directed by Edie Walwyn-Gaston, who was voted Best First Time Filmmaker at the Birmingham Film Festival in November. SUFUKU was an amazing project which allowed me to really apply what I had learnt at RADA. It was such a positive experience and has really opened up the world of film-acting to me in an important way.

Another important performative project in 2019 was my stage directorial debut in The Frogs: Recroaked, my sister’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ comic classic The Frogs. It debuted at the Stockwell Playhouse (now sadly closed) in April 2019. This has kickstarted a desire to direct more, and proved to me that I really do love the art of storytelling in all its forms.

The RADA Foundation class of 2017-8 with course leader Joan Oliver. (I can be found in the second row, second from the right with the glass of red wine and blonde hair)

My time at Prism-Clarity so far (1): Training and networking

At the beginning of September I began working for Prism-Clarity following the end of my MA course. Since starting, I’ve been on an amazing learning curve. In early September, I completed online courses provided by SfEP and the PTC. The SfEP courses introduced the basic concepts of proofreading and copy-editing, reinforced with exercises. I was then lucky enough to consolidate my initial training with a two-day, tutor-led course provided by the PTC. More recently, I’ve been learning how to write more conversationally for less formal pieces, with better readability and a less academic style.

Meetings and gatherings with local business associations and freelance business groups (such as the Melbourn Business Association and Royston Business Network) have also been a great support. They’ve not only welcomed me with open arms, but provided safe space to explore public speaking and journalistic writing as well as a cracking breakfast and great company.

My time at Prism-Clarity so far (2): Business support and social media

As well as training and integrating myself into the local business community, I have been learning how to manage company expenses and run regular social media content. This has really helped to polish my Excel skills. I have also learnt how to use Receipt Bank to manage the company’s costs. Involving organising and categorising of invoices and receipts to reconcile with the company’s bank account.

Some of my other responsibilities include creating content for social media and writing newsletters for Prism-Clarity, using tools like Hootsuite and Mailchimp. Since November I have been producing and scheduling two new weekly features for Prism-Clarity’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

The first is Usage Corner, which explores examples of how linguistic meanings have evolved philosophically and historically. The second regular feature is Prism’s Authorisms, which explores the role of fictional and non-fictional authors in the coining of terms or bringing them to mainstream language. The aim of this feature is to highlight the fluidity of language. As well as the important role of authors as popular culture figures in our society. I’m hoping that I will also be able to regularly contribute content for Prism-Clarity’s blogs. As I train and practise more, hopefully my writing will become more easy to read and journalistic (stay tuned to find out how that goes!).

My time at Prism-Clarity so far (3): Copy-editing

One of my main responsibilities is copy-editing articles for clients of Prism-Clarity. The most extensive copy-editing work I do is for one of our top clients, a financial research group (specialising largely in investment funds). The work often includes researching around the subject (as I have a humanities-focused academic background); careful proofreading and editing of figures, numbers, spelling, grammar; and a quick turnaround! The most important aspect to this role is making the author’s words still their own, whilst making the article more easily readable. This involves bringing clarity and accuracy to the narrative, while adhering to the company’s style guide. It’s been an incredible experience so far and one that I am lucky to have been involved with so early in my career.

I have also been lucky enough to edit for other top Prism-Clarity clients, including an article on the Internet of Things. The article was one of several for a forthcoming magazine to be published by a leading insurance company. These copy-editing and proofreading opportunities have opened up a whole new world of storytelling that I love. More importantly, they have introduced an exciting potential future career that I would love to pursue further.

My time at Prism-Clarity so far (4): Copywriting

The final area of responsibility that I am learning in my role is copywriting for clients. Prism-Clarity has most recently been involved in writing multiple articles for another (different) magazine being produced and assembled by one of our principal clients, a consultancy firm. The article I was commissioned to write explored the topical issue of remuneration and incentives in the policies of companies offering consumer credit (for example motor finance companies). Though the subject matter was different to anything I had written before, it was a brilliant opportunity to apply my research skills and training in journalistic writing to a piece of client work. Watch this space for more details on my copywriting work!

Looking to the future

I am very excited for what the future brings with the experience I’ve gained from Prism-Clarity so far. From August onwards I will be able to apply everything I will have learnt and explore new professional avenues.

At my core, I am a storyteller. There is nothing more that I love to do than to tell stories. Of our shared past, of mythical worlds, or of our current socio-political and economic circumstances. Whether I am writing them, directing them, editing them or expressing them through performance. Our world is shaped by the stories we tell and the power of words. It is my sincere desire to pursue my love of storytelling in my future career, in all shapes and sizes, and something I am delighted to be doing.