“Who are we when no one’s watching?” by Stacey Daly

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Photo by Stephene Pale James

My name is Stacey Daly and I’m an actress, originally from Newport. I first became involved with ‘Women of Newport’ when I took part in the photography exhibition launched by Kamila Jarczak in 2019.

What inspired me at the time was the incredible sense of passion which all the women shared; whether that was through their creative work or through their business, charity work. For me, these women represented all that is positive about the city of Newport; they represented its heart and what can be achieved when you have self belief, passion and determination.

I’d been living in London for the last few years however, at the start of the COVID pandemic I returned back home to Newport. Naively; I thought I’d be home for just a few months. At that time, I hadn’t realised the full extremity of the pandemic and all that was to come with it.

A month or so into lockdown and like so many others, I began to feel depressed, anxious, frightened and direction-less.

Before I’d returned home, my mother had also been very poorly. Suddenly, being around her 24 hours a day, every day,  witnessing her daily struggles ( a lot of them, mental health struggles) at a time when the NHS focus was on COVID and ‘saving lives’, whilst she wasn’t able to get the support and treatment that she needed, really impacted me. I felt utterly helpless. Not only this, but there was an anarchic tone in the country; I mean, there seemed to be protests and riots going on everywhere and about almost anything and everything. The environment felt truly surreal and I must admit, almost dystopic at times. 

The lockdown period was such an interesting time to observe people. For instance, during this time there were the BLM protests. I noticed how this divided people.

It was emotionally stirring for some and yet there were others that were quietly dispassionate; seeing the protests merely as fleeting events triggered by the pandemic that would in effect, be forgotten once ‘normal life’ had resumed. Others commented upon how the pandemic had changed the world for the better and made people appreciate the fragility of the planet and that people had become ‘better human beings’. However, in stark contrast we saw shoppers hoarding bread and milk in the supermarkets and scenes of washed up contaminated, plastic beaches.

Most days, I’d find myself going off for long walks and of course, at that time it was all about social distancing so they were usually by myself where I’d be left alone to gather my thoughts, trying to make sense of it all as best I could. It was during this time that I began developing a piece of writing which gradually morphed into a short film screenplay/idea called BUBBLE.

Around this time, like most people, I’d also been trying to stay connected with friends and loved ones by doing the whole Zoom/Skype call, party, quiz thing…I’d noticed that there seemed to be an automatic expectation that during lockdown, the younger generation would be better equipped than the older one; an assumption that they could smoothly transition into the online world. This online world being set up to try and replicate the ‘human experience’ and sustain us until the government relinquished control and life returned to ‘normal’ again.

I was interested in the idea of a younger person who might struggle to make that transition; perhaps one who may already have been experiencing mental health illness before the pandemic hit and perhaps, also one, whereby I could try and inject a daughter/mother relationship dynamic into the backstory. 

In the film we watch two people- two strangers, (Leah and Luke) connect and come together during lockdown using this online medium; the audience acting as voyeurs to a vignette of scenes that are intimately played out between them. Where that journey goes, to what extent and at what cost, will be left for the audience to decide…

This last year or so has been an incredibly challenging time for the arts- theatres have been shut and budgets and funding severely cut. However, it’s also been inspiring to watch how resilient and evolutionary artists have behaved.

For me, when I began writing this piece I honestly didn’t think it was going to serve as anything other than some sort of cathartic exercise but as time went on, I began to feel empowered. I began to feel that even in such a difficult time for the arts, I could still have a creative voice and sense of purpose.

All of my expectations were exceeded when the script attracted interest from a local director and producer. I’m very excited that we’re now in pre-production with the film with shoot dates locked for July.

 

BUBBLE will be directed by BAFTA Cymru nominated, Luke Andrews and produced by BAFTA Cymru nominated, Focus Shift Films.

 

You can read more about me, the project and the rest of the team here:

 

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bubble

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