Looking for Lenny Henry

I am not laughing.  Seriously.  I am in a taxi with a bunch of people I don’t know hurtling towards some kind of comedy workshop.  Why did I actually  agree to this?  I am not a funny person.  Even the thought of trying to be funny makes me feel unwell.  Funny people are great, but I am definitely not one of them. I blame Lenny Henry for this mess.

I saw him once, Lenny Henry.  He was coming out of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  I almost missed him, although I don’t know how as he is rather tall.  Having said that most people are tall in comparison to me but I digress.  I was having a Lenny Henry themed weekend, the comedy workshop was there to bring out my inner Lenny Henry, to hopefully help me find my funny (it didn’t, I am still not funny but more on that later) and before that I had a night in the Premier Inn, as advertised by none other than, yep, Lenny Henry.

So this night in the hotel had been given to me as a blogger which was rather nice.  Of course it means I write a post about it but that’s OK by me. I like writing and I like nights in hotels, win-win.  I’ll confess however I anticipated that I was going to have to be a tad creative with my post.  I’ve done the odd travel lodge in my time and well, they are a bit rough going to be honest.  In my head Premier Inn was much the same but I was pleasantly surprised.

The whole stay was much nicer than I had guessed it would be.  The rooms are bigger than I thought they would be (and very purple but that’s my little boy’s favourite colour so I am good with that).  Everything was bright and clean and I even had a choice of pillow (soft or hard?  You decide.)  I’d have liked some green or peppermint tea in the room but I am a fussy bugger so I can’t imagine that bothering too many people and I did get breakfast! Free food!

To maximise my staying potential I had brought my husband with me, he was happy to sample pretty much everything going (I don’t eat meat or gluten but was very happy with some scrambled eggs and mushrooms – also plenty of green tea – hurrah!).  Premier Inn even have their own snazzy brand of sauce which is – yes you guessed it – purple.  They really are big on their purple but I appreciate their commitment.  I tested this out on my husband too (by which I mean I made him eat it not that I tried it ON him).  He’s pretty much happy with anything that is food related to be honest but he appreciated the wee kick the sauce had, Macedonians have steel stomaches, they can take anything.

We had traveled alone but I saw plenty of people with families and it made me want to take my two on wee trip somewhere.   They’ve never been in a hotel and I think they would have had a great time staying with us.  I’d happily take them to a Premier Inn now that I’ve been in one myself, I found the whole stay more than pleasant and the staff were suitably bright and breezy.  It was all rather lovely until the workshop loomed and I suddenly remembered it was part of the deal.

I gained some comfort in my taxi ride and met some lovely bloggers – two very pretty sisters from the North and another Mum who I was happy to discover also  liked to write.  I was reassured that I wasn’t going to be stuck in a room trying to do stand up comedy with a room full of professionals.  We were all in the same boat.

Then I was pretty much saved.  Turns out the comedy workshop was really about  improvisation.  Safety!  Safety!  I knew a couple of the exercises and learned a couple of new ones that I will be stealing so good stuff. It was a lovely hour and a half of playing about with the MayDays – a comedy improvisation group that you can read about here.  My key take away was in an exercise about words which reminded me how easy it is to get stuck using the same words over and over again.  This is something I have seen in my own writing, similar phrases and patterns repeating themselves.  It was a great reminder to try and break out of those habits. So I did not find Lenny Henry, he doesn’t appear to actually be in the Premier Inn (false advertising people!) and he certainly can’t be found in my funny (not that funny) bone but the Premier Inn is pretty bloody decent if I don’t say so myself and I would say a good impro workshop is good for everyone’s health, wellbeing and creativity.

Should you wish a night of purple heaven then you can find Edinburgh’s Premier Inn’s here and there little guide to visiting Edinburgh during festival season (a must if you ask me) here.

In other news, tomorrow I will be in France.  I hope I am OK.  I am rather scared.  I seem to be doing lots of things that scare me right now.  I can’t deiced if I am a genius or an idiot.  Possibly both.  Sunday and Monday I will be completely alone in Bordeaux.  I have never traveled alone before, I don’t speak French.  Still, it’s an adventure and I recently bought a bunch of books from the Edinburgh Book Festival so I plan to read, write and think and hopefully not starve to death because I can’t order food in French.  Then I will be heading to a farm in the middle of nowhere to work with John Britton for a week on Ensemble Theatre Practice.  Again I am either a genius or an idiot.  The work sounds exciting but I dearly hope it’s not another case of me being the potato in a room full of professional dancers.  Still one must suffer for one’s art and I know that I am learning to bring the work back to my little tiny town and to make sure the young people have access to a half decent youth theatre experience.

Finally I received my copy of blueshift in the post.  This was a lovely project pulled together by the clever and multi-talented Karen Dennison in which artists and poets responded to each others work.  It was exciting to see someone create in response to something I had created and it was made extra special because I got to write my poem in response to a dear and talented artist friend Saras Feijoo.   Such a unique and beautiful project, if you fancy a gander then you can find it here: blueshift

This has been a long post.  You win a prize for getting to the end.  The prize is a virtual snog from me.  No?  Suit yourself then.  Until next time – Au revoir!


5 thoughts on “Looking for Lenny Henry

  1. Hello Stephanie,
    I’m the other theatre person who responded to your post. I’m sure you’ll be fine.Bordeaux is a lovely city, I’m surE you’ll enjoy it. My concern for you is not your workshop but the fact that you are a vegetarian And a non gluten person. The French really don’t understand non meat eaters, so you’ll have to be firm about your dietry requirement. I actually live two hours drive from Bordeaux, we moved here 12 years ago. I’m vegan, so if I go out to eat I tend to have chips and salad. As you eat eggs you’ll probably get by.
    Have a wonderful time and let us know how you faired.

    1. I was a bit worried about that too! Although I do eat fish and the course is actually near Lectoure and once I am there I will be fed so that should be ok. I only have to feed myself for the first two days! Shame you are not a bit closer, we could have met for a coffee!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *