Guest blog by Kailey McGowan (playing Jessica and Sandra in ‘Small Histories’)

Last November we performed a small section of Small Histories after a period of R&D work. During this, we all played multiple parts and so we all fully got to know each individual character. This has worked really well now we are delving into the full production because no one has tunnel vision and we can all see the piece as a whole. When I was recast as Jessica/Sandra, I felt sad to let go of Helen and her journey, but playing Jessica (her daughter) it seems her journey has hit me all the more. 

Today in rehearsals we explored the very end of the play, the moment we have been building up to, and seeing all of these lives pass us by, we all felt so much emotion in the room. I lost my own Grandma last year, and I have felt that I could have known more, where she went as a child and who her best friends were. I gathered stories about her as I was growing up but it always seems that, as children, we don’t want to always listen to the stories our parents or even our grandparents tell us. We are too busy watching Nickelodeon, scanning on our phones or thinking about what we are having for tea to listen properly. As you start getting older you question where you’ve come from, and who’s gone before you. We spend so much time searching for those answers and I feel a true irony in the fact that as children we just don’t seem to be interested.

Shortly before my Grandma passed away, I remember asking her if there was ‘one that got away’ and of course there was. I am now so glad I asked because we were sat at her little table by the wall, just the two of us having mash and steak and kidney pie talking about a man that once held her heart. I could see it in her eyes as she remembered him and she talked about work, and her day to day life and I was interested and I wanted to hear more.

We always want to hear more when it’s too late, we don’t ask the question or take the photo or record the sound when we should. In life we let moments pass us by, from moments they turn to treasured memories we wish we could go back and relive. What I find so beautiful about ‘Small Histories’ is that Jessica is given the opportunity to see a slice of her ancestors’ lives, what they did before her and how they managed. She sees that we really aren’t that different after all and it makes her question whether blood really is thicker than water. 

My mum is on holiday at the moment and I was thinking absentmindedly about going back to my home town the other day and I got this big deep feeling of sadness because I knew she wasn’t there, and if she isn’t there it’s just a place on a map. Home is your family, and things are just things until we attach our memories to them.

I hope you will come and share in the Aspinall line of memories because you are sure to leave laughing and crying and perhaps wondering what questions you might want to ask when you get home to your loved ones.

And teenagers, please treasure your grandparents, I very much miss mine and you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Put down your phones, your iPads and turn the TV off, and listen to a story about going dancing or to the picture house. Let your grandparents relive a slice of their childhood and you too will live it along with them.

We will see you at our first performance in Rawtenstall on the 22nd June, bring tissues…. 

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