Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh's working diary begins in November 2016 at the end of a full and exciting year of theatre-making with her company, Take Back. The company is a northern-based collective creating immediate script-in-hand responses to social and political events (of which there were many in 2016). Her work with Take Back fell between filming the third series of Broadchurch for ITV and starring in the award-winning play Wit at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
She kicks off as she prepares to start rehearsals for Mike Leigh's epic film about the Peterloo Massacre of 1819; visits schools and colleges representing Arts Emergency - an organisation set up to promote opportunities for young working-class actors; and awaits news of a possible London transfer of Wit.
The book takes in Hesmondhalgh's unique experiences of working in film, theatre, TV and radio drama, and through the ups and downs of life as a working actor and producer, while balancing family life. The events described throughout take place against the backdrop of the huge political change and upheaval as Britain votes in favour of Brexit and Donald Trump is elected as US president.
Throughout, Julie Hesmondhalgh considers the impact and challenges of starting a brand new chapter of her career after 16 years in Coronation Street; growing older as a woman in an industry preoccupied by youth and appearance; working with a legend of British film making; running a company; being a parent; experiencing first-hand the huge changes and pressures in the creative industries and arts education; and the lesser-known aspects of an actor's life post-production and publicity. All the while, she attempts to pass on any knowledge or experiences she might have accrued to people starting out in the business in this fascinating year-long journal.
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Julie Hesmondhalgh was born in Accrington, Lancashire in February 1970. She studied at LAMDA from 1988-1991 and, after graduating, set up her own theatre company, Arts Threshold, with a group of friends. Her TV roles have included appearances in The Bill, the Catherine Cookson drama The Dwelling Place, a care home worker in Victoria Wood's comedy film Pat and Margaret, Dalziel & Pascoe, Cucumber and the 2016 series of Happy Valley. Her most famous role to date has been as Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap Coronation Street. From 2012, she worked extensively in theatre, appearing as Sylvia Lancaster in Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster (Royal Exchange, 2012); in Simon Stephens's Blindsided; (Royal Exchange, 2014); in God Bless the Child (Royal Court, 2014); and as Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson's Wit (Royal Exchange, 2016). She is a founder member of Manchester-based grassroots theatre company Take Back and a member of The Gap collective in Manchester. In addition, she is a supporter of Arts Emergency and a mentor with the National Youth Theatre.
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