EGO Performance | Ego Member Of The Month – Lewis Ford
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Ego Member Of The Month – Lewis Ford

Ladies and Gentlemen, Today I am so pleased to bring you an interview with fellow northerner, multi talented performer and most importantly, April’s Ego Member Of The Month, Lewis Ford! 

Kyle:

Hi Lewis thanks for doing this today! how are you?

Lewis:

Hello Kyle, it’s an honour to be in the studio with you tonight. And what a beautiful audience we have, my, my.

I’m a bit migrainey, but otherwise fine, thanks. How about you?

Kyle:

Haha! yeah not bad, I hope its not the studio lights causing the migraine, so first can you tell me, how & when you discovered Ego?

Lewis:

Well, it was back when I became a member of the homeless charity Crisis Skylight specifically to join their drama class held in the room upstairs at EGO. This was way back in September 2016. So much has happened since then, but I still can’t believe it’s been so long!

After a couple of weeks of that, the tutor, Emma, mentioned Bold as Bard, which was the first EGO group I ever became involved in. Way back when it started, as well!

Kyle:

yeah it feels like when you join Ego time flies. so has the performing arts always been appealing to you?

Lewis:

It does, doesn’t it? Must mean we’re either having fun or blacking out a lot.

Hm. I think so, on some level or another. When I was 5, I always very much enjoyed it when it was my turn to read in English class. Even back then, loved the sound of the piano, so joined a breaktime keyboard class to get a taste of it.

But back then, I didn’t much like being in front of people, in nativity plays and so forth. That didn’t come for a long time. The great thing about reading and music is you can do either on your own and enjoy the hell out of it.

With acting, it’s rather different. You can’t enjoy it half so well without an audience of some sort.

But seven heavens, can you enjoy it then!

[Hmm. You can cut whatever you want, I just like a ramble sometimes.]

 

Kyle:

no, your answer is great! so would you say Ego has helped you improve your confidence?

Lewis:

Oh, no question. It would be difficult to overstate. I came to EGO feeling utterly wretched. You can’t make yourself stronger if you can’t let yourself to be vulnerable. It toughens up your soft parts. You certainly can’t act well if you keep yourself entirely to yourself. And that was my problem.

You can do that with acting, let yourself go. I think you can do that with all the arts, but acting is… Well, it’s my way, anyway.

Two and a half years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold a proper conversation with you. Or most anyone, really. Now I can, and that, in very big part, is thanks to the wonderful people at EGO, members and staff all. Without them, I’d still be that wretched clam-shell creature that came, jittering, through the door way back in 2016. It took a lot to crack that shell, but by God, I think they did it 

Kyle:

I can totally relate to that & also there certainly is something freeing about being able to be someone else through acting, I know Ego provides a safe environment for us to be vulnerable. can you remember your first Ego session, what was that like?

Lewis

There is. That’s the other great thing about acting – and especially theatre, actually – the opportunity to work for months on understanding the world from another’s perspective. Being autistic, this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. It’s a big part of why acting is what I have to do with my life, the whole process just helps so much in so many ways and it’s FUN as well!

My first proper EGO session would’ve been a Bold as Bard morning class, actually – it was cancelled after not long, I think because most of the members had exams and so forth to swot up for, but let’s see what memories I can fish out…

I remember being quite intimidated, actually. Everyone just seemed so confident and competent, which was the diametric opposite of how I was feeling back then. But the language of Shakespeare and the way Katy and John guided us through it together… It was masterful. And the feeling of community to the group that soon developed was unlike anything I’d been fortunate enough to experience up until then. It’s something I observe in all parts of the madhouse that is EGO.

I feel very at home in this madhouse, and so privileged to be a part of it.

Kyle:

Its funny for me to imagine you being intimated by the group, I felt the same way when we first got paired up? so how did you feel the night of your first ever Ego show?

Lewis:

Mm, it takes time, doesn’t it? I’m still not completely over it, to be totally honest. But it just keeps you sharp, doesn’t it?

Ooh, I was… I was nervous, feeling a little sick but practically crackling with excitement. This was Two Weddings and a Funeral, Bold as Bard’s very first show, and the first show of a number of our fellow cast members as well. I was nervous for everyone, but I knew we’d get through it and when we did I was so proud of everyone! A few fumbles here and there, I’m not innocent of that… Was that the night my phone went off when I was mid-monologue?

Kyle:

yeah people often say, it’s a bad sign if you don’t feel nervous before a show, thankfully I agree we did smash it! I was backstage when the phone mishap happened, so I missed it but we survived. you recently Joined the Big Ego Ensemble, How are you finding that?

Lewis:

Mm. Bad dress rehearsal, good show, as they say. It’s pretty accurate, in my experience!

It’s early days and I’ve missed so much because I’ve been ill, but it’s been good! A new challenge – this will be my first foray into modern English acting at EGO, and with such a bunch of competent actors as yourselves! You’re all rather impressive. It’s a little nerve-wracking because I’ve barely begun to understand my character and the show is so soon and I want to do well… Yeah. But exciting as well. Exciting to be doing a new show, and if we can pull it off, it could be super good. Something we can all be very proud of, both as a piece of theatre and as a personal achievement in our own respective battles. It’s great to be a part of it.

I keep wanting to turn the questions around on you – how long have you been a member of Big EGO? How do you like it there?  

Kyle:

no don’t worry about me, the Ego website is full of my history – Yeah our next show Blink. is certainly going to be a challenge for all of us and trust me, you are very well suited to the Big Ensemble. am I right in thinking you perform outside of Ego too?

Lewis:

Well that’s very kind of you to say.

Apart from the occasional short film, I don’t, really, no, but I’m always on the lookout for acting work! I did recently audition to join the National Youth Theatre, but I’m not sure that went at all well… Have yet to hear back.

If you mean with my own little theatre charity, Underground Lights, no – I just perform administrative duties and help facilitate.

Kyle:

it’s a very  competitive field this acting stuff though isn’t it! so what is Underground lights? 

Lewis:

Immensely- Well, Kyle:, thank you for asking! (You’ll get your £10 on Sunday, hohoho, that was a joke!)

Underground Lights is a community theatre charity run for and aiming to be run by people with experience of homelessness and/or mental health issues.

We run weekly workshops on Fridays at the Belgrade, in three 10-week terms a year, usually leading to performance. From about July, I think, we’ll be running a drop-in creative café where people can drop in and show off/work on their own projects, in groups or solo. There’s also some leadership training in the pipeline. Very proud of it, we finally got up and running in January and we’ve done one performance already – super proud of our members – on performance day, they did it the best they’d ever done it!

Kyle:

that sounds amazing, would you say your experience with Ego has helped you with this project?

Lewis  

Haha, thanks, I’m very proud. Most worthwhile thing I can be doing in the world, at this point in my life.

Absolutely it has, I just wouldn’t have the confidence to take on the task if it hadn’t been for all the glorious people of EGO, to grow with, learn with and learn from. Me, telling a bunch of strangers who’re all older than me what to do? Two and a half years ago, it would’ve been unthinkable. If I were to go back in time and tell my past self that was going to become a real thing that actually happened… Well, I would’ve laughed in my own face  

And of course, EGO is where I met my wonderful co-founder Emma – UL was her idea to begin with. She was the tutor running the Crisis Drama class, way back when. 

Something like Underground Lights might’ve existed without EGO, but I wouldn’t be a part of it and it might not have gotten all set up and running and changing lives already.

Oof. OK, I think I need my head deflating.

Kyle:

you sound so passionate about it which is great and so awesome that Ego in someway helped you with that. you have been an Ego member for nearly 3 years, what has been your most memorable moment so far as an Ego member?

Lewis

I cannot overstate my gratitude to EGO. It’s just… forever, man, you know? EGO forever.

Right. Well you know the answer to this one and I thought we agreed never to talk again about that night. I mean there’s a few things that stick out – migraine on scratch night in Stratford, the phone going off mid-monologue, Philip’s rancid farts… But very well, it would have to be that day in Big EGO – that fateful day – when we were doing improvs of daily tasks with various medical conditions and so forth… And our group for some reason went with [REDACTED]. So one by one, we [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED] until [YOU DO NOT HAVE THE SECURITY CLEARANCE TO ACCESS THIS INFORMATION].

It will be seared into my memory forevermore. I’m pretty sure it worked whatever circuits in the brain make you feel shame so hard that they might be permanently damaged, just a bit.

Kyle:

oh sweet lord I somehow forgot that sketch. last few questions now. what three words would you use to describe Bard?

Lewis:

Shakespeare Gone Wild

Kyle:

Yes! & three words to describe Big?

Lewis:

(After very careful consideration) Funny Bumblers United!

Kyle:

Lewis thanks so much for doing this! last question. why do you think people should come and see an Ego production?

Lewis:

No problem, thanks for having me on your show! It’s been an honour and a privilege being this year’s April Fool. 

Hmm. Many reasons, and it depends on the show. No two shows are alike, it’s always fresh, it’s always different…

Come along if you’re curious to join, come along if you’re just curious, or even if you’re just free and bored. You’ll not be bored any more, I promise you that. And I promise you it’ll be worth more than the price of your ticket. (And there’s a bar ) 

In short, you should come see an EGO show because EGO is awesome, the people are awesome and it might be just what you need, or at least your first step towards it. It certainly seems to be for a lot of people. 

 Kyle:

That’s an awesome response! You have been worth the wait thanks again Lewis!

When I decided I’d like to interview Lewis, I knew he’d be great, however he surpassed my expectations!

Till next time

Kyle 

Photography By Nicola Cashin

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