December 2015, i was stood on a bridge ready to jump, I had decided that was my day to die. Instead of jumping I decided I was going to become an actor.
January 2016, i walked into The Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough with apprehension and a little bit of fear. I was looking for Bill Rodgers, i had previously had a long telephone conversation with Bill. Bill runs a theatre company for people who either suffer with, have suffered with, care for someone or anyone connected to mental health.
We had spoken for nearly 2 hours, about different aspects of my mental health, my favorite actors and films, what sort of comedy I liked and my favorite comedians. Bill told me about his long career on television and his Canadian wife Kate who is a comedian (and as I would later find out and absolute delight and fantastic lady). During the conversation and for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable.
Back to 5th January 2015, I had walked through the door and was met by a thick Yorkshire accent “ey up lad you must be Jamie”, it was Bill, he introduced me to his wife Kate who for some reason i took an instant liking to, she has a warm and friendly personality, the kind that could warm up a freezing room just by walking through the door, we walked through into the theatre and after some more hello’s and hi’s to the rest of the cast i sat and listened to some of the material written by the guys and i was blown away.
Inspired by what i had heard, i dived head first into rehearsal and worked as hard as i could, and within a matter of weeks i was an official member of Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health. Rehearsing week after week i finally felt i had found friends i could feel comfortable with. I attended different meetings and social events with Bill and even publicised the show on BBC Radio Lincolnshire along with Bill and another cast member Jared (Bill nicknamed us the queens). With Jared everything was funny, every comment became a sexual innuendo and i had a really good laugh.
On 12th March 2016 i stood on stage in front of 140 people at Trinity Arts Centre along with the 12 other members of Stepping Stone and performed my heart out in our first groundbreaking show “Confessions of Me”, an experience i wouldn’t have thought i could have done without the guidance and support of Bill and Kate.
Since then i have gone on to perform again with Stepping Stone in their second show “In a Nutshell” which was a bigger success than Confessions Of Me.
Cast members have come and gone, some have gone on to do better things, others because it wasn’t for them. New members have joined and become part of Stepping Stone and i have made so many friends and over time those friends have turned into family, these are people i trust which i never thought i could do, they motivate, encourage and inspire me to do things i never thought i could do.
Bill and Kate Have done so much for me and i would like to say a MASSIVE thank you, but also to the rest of the cast for making me feel part of the family that is Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health.