Into the Spotlight: how the magic of theatre takes us back to childhood
Published on: 16 September 2020 Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Author and actress Carrie Hope Fletcher was raised surrounded by costumes, footlights and stage makeup - a childhood that inspired her book Into the Spotlight.
She talks about how her two great loves, reading and the theatre, and how both conjure a kind of magic that transports us to a world where anything is possible.
Trying on top hats
Growing up inside theatres was so utterly magical. I have filing cabinets in my brain filled with memories that not only fill me with a warmth I want everyone I meet to feel but are also memories that have made me who I am today. I remember playing in amongst costume racks and trying on top hats that were so big they fell over my eyes. I remember standing centre stage and feeling tiny, like the whole theatre had swallowed me whole. I remember eccentric actors who gave me eccentric advice I never thought I’d use and yet here I am as an adult, doling out the same advice to my younger co-workers because it ended up being invaluable. I remember sights, sounds and smells I’m not sure I will ever be able to express well enough to do them justice, but I’m so pleased I have been given the chance to try through my writing.
Into The Spotlight is my first children’s novel. It’s a reimagining of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild - something of a theatrical novel itself - and so it comes as no surprise that this is a theme I kept for my story.
There is a child-like essence to theatre even when you’re all grown up. After all, dressing up and telling stories was how I spent most of my childhood - which is probably why I’m constantly being told it’s “not a real job" now that I'm doing it as an adult. However, even when I’m on stage, I can spot a youthful glee in everyone’s eyes as I look out into the audience. It’s almost as if for a brief moment, we have all become our younger selves and together we are suspending disbelief in order to be completely sucked in and taken under the spell of a story that probably isn’t true but boy, do we wish it was. People become so taken in by a show, in fact, that sometimes they’re still sobbing by the time they reach me at stage door.
We even have a term in the world of theatre for those who are feeling under the weather, a little blue or just ready to throw in the towel after a rough day. We say these people need “Doctor Footlights”. It’s this magical phenomenon that takes place when you walk onto stage and everything seems to melts away. All worries get left in the wings and Doctor Footlights works her magic. I always count myself very lucky that I’m still part of something that has the power to make people laugh, cry and even if only for a little while, make them feel better. I’m even luckier that it’s something I can attempt to pass on to younger readers and aspiring actors.
A love affair to last a lifetime
Into The Spotlight is the story of three children, Marigold, Mabel and Morris Pebble who are adopted by an eccentric theatre owner who they call their Brilliant Aunt Maude. They all have very different interests. Marigold wants to be a writer, Mabel wants to work for NASA and Morris just wants to dance. However, the thing that unites them is their love of the theatre and so when they discover it’s in danger of being closed down forever, they do all they can to save it.
Writing and theatre are two of my biggest passions. There is magic in every story whether it’s in a book or on a stage and so to be able to combine the two in my stories feels incredibly special and twice as magical. I hope whoever reads my book falls in love with reading and theatre in equal measure - because for me it’s a love affair that is sure to last a lifetime.
Time to Read
Time sharing stories is time well spent. We want parents and carers to keep reading to their child, even once they've reached primary school or started to read on their own.
If you read books together, it's a great way to bond, talk about the day, and have a lot of fun!