• Melissa Thom

Theatre of the mind


Masquerade, by Aubrey Beardsley Credit: The British Library
Radio…was the soundtrack of my life Bob Dylan

I keep hanging onto those golden memories of America, but with the big freeze staving off the onset of snowdrops, daffs and the much longed for season of Spring, I gotta get real and get on with it.


I’m building a new studio in the back garden (brace yourself — a thrilling story yet to come), making relationships with new clients, and getting all my English ducks in a row.


Corporate Queen


80% of my work is for companies ranging from global brands like Google to those based locally, including Konica Minolta (Tokyo HQ, but with offices just down the road). Meeting clients and colleagues is the bit I love. Just recently, I met a woman who used to work with Elton John, another who has a PhD in magic (I kid ye not), and a young ballsy couple who run a punk record label. Having a cuppa with these diverse, interesting people absolutely makes my week.

New EP from Bristol indie band, Dogeyed. Credit: Specialist Records

While I love the corporate work, the key to self actualisation amidst family life is to try to keep the creative juices flowing. First up, meditation and exercise every day where I can. And work-wise, I’ve adopted the 80/20 rule: 80% bread and butter, 20% on creative stuff — including listening to podcasts, walks in the woods, and reading as many books, magazines and plays as I can, and finding opportunities to bring these to life.


Radio reels


And so it was — following my stint at Bristol Old Vic — that the time was ripe to crack out a radio drama reel. I LOVE the prep for this. A chance to delve deep, find out what writing is out there for my playing age (29–45) and use it as an opportunity to discover new texts.


This time, it led first to Salome by Oscar Wilde (I adore Wilde and have had a long standing obsession with him for many years), but had never got round to reading this. I’d grown up with numerous Aubrey Beardsley prints at home and now display the slightly yellowed images along our staircase. My sons tell me I have weird taste in art, but I have no idea what they’re on about:


Credit: Original image from Salome, by Aubrey Beardsley. Credit: The British Library

The British Library has some excellent articles on just about everything, but this feature on Wilde and decadence during the fin de siècle was right up my street: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/salome. In any case, I digress. Let’s get down to matters.


I found so many wonderful texts — some only monologues and not complete scripts, which one rainy night, led me and my husband to watching The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I know it’s held right up there with the classics, but honestly, watching Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons cavorting across Lyme Regis was painful. Even Streep herself confessed she ‘didn’t feel like she was living it’. We were in fits of laughter at the soft focus and bad English accents, so at least it gave us a laugh.


Pigeons in Prison

The prep took me through online dating, incarcerated birds and wartime London, with emotions ranging from modern comedy through resilience and audacity in the face of rejection and solitude. Pretty much a day in the life of a voiceover: dust yourself off and carry on regardless.


Latest work


And so, it is, that I unveil my latest drama reel, made in London with the wonderful Kirsty Wilde. Grab a cuppa and let me know what you think at hello@melissathom.me:



Books


To Throw Away Unopened I cannot wait to get my hands on this follow up memoir from the Slit’s Viv Albertine: I really admire this woman. If you have not read her wonderful book: Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, I urge you to do it now. In the meantime, read this interview with her from Loud and Quiet about the new memoir.


Viv Albertine Credit: JonAngelo Molinari

Websites


Amidst current global politics, recent data breaches, and other seemingly depressing events, David Byrne’s take on Reasons to be Cheerful is an interesting concept. Billed by Open Culture as ‘an online observatory of world improvement’, Byrne urges us all to adopt the glass half full approach, rather than simply assuming this world is going to hell. Worth a shot if you ask me.


Podcasts


Distraction Pieces I’ve been getting into this podcast offering from hip hop artist and actor, Scroobius Pip. They’re long, and I often find myself missing some tight production on podcasts, but the interviews are interesting and hosted by someone that seems genuinely interested in his guests.


Here’s the Thing I love Alec Baldwin and his podcast Here’s the Thing is easy listening. Worth checking out.