These days, it is rare to feel part of a community. We live increasingly independent lives, at a time when the means for technical communication has never been greater. Why is this so?

Life has changed. Admittedly, I grew up watching ‘the Waltons’. Yes, I was infatuated by the last scene, as the whole family, under twinkling stars, said ‘good-night’. ‘Good-night, John Boy, good night Mary Ellen’. And it is bizarre, surreal even, to us living in 2007, how everyone married their next-door neighbours, left their houses unlocked, walked to the shops and ate the fruit of the land, thus saving food miles by a substantial amount.

Life has changed; working hours, lifestyles, priorities … the list is continuous, and never-ending ... which means that there is not enough ‘time’ in the day. There are many more inner/outer pressures. When is there time to be, to rest, to play, to laugh?

Well, I will confess. I’ve just been playing. An awful lot.

Gather a group of twelve individuals, from Odstock, Nunton and Bodenham, consisting of mainly doctors and nurses, one vet, a property developer and myself (an indefinable creature) in September for a read through at the local primary school. A couple of months later, approximately eighteen rehearsals and what was to show?

The Goodbridge Million was written by Sean Dooley. It was not dissimilar to the Vicar of Dibley, in nuance and style, with an array of flavoursome characters and an in consequential plot to boot … It focussed around a million pound donation, with which the Goodbridge residents were entrusted to spend. The end result? A scrabble competition that was won by the most eccentric villager. The accompanying sub-text revolved around the relationships between characters, with an inevitable romantic twist.

I must admit that I had several ‘issues’ with my character, one ‘Persephone Hartley’. However, in the final week (luckily), I began to grow accustomed to her style and nuances … I discovered that it is possible to act another person. Instead of fighting against one’s inner urges to be a hippy chick (in my dreams), I accepted the perfect innocence (and rather irritating habits) of a young girl (using a bit of artistic licence, admittedly).

Aeons ago now, I remember a vacant red spelling book, listing words, according to length and difficulty in pronunciation. Every Sunday night, I was tested on those infamous words, prior to the 9.00 Monday morning English lesson (was that the origin of the dreaded Monday morning feeling?). My point, in a rather convoluted fashion is that school was a very ‘predictable’ way of life; play week took on the same attributes.

I quickly reverted to a schedule. The kitchen clock, guided the hours until departure each day … bath, changing into costume, attempting not to poke my eyes through putting my contact lenses, scanning over lines whilst chewing ‘high tea’ (the last is not recommended as it’s fatal for digestion).

Emerging on stage was either the equivalent feeling to taking one’s driving test (in my case, four times) or scribbling furiously/not for one’s ‘A’ levels (and awaiting results). Probably not the best recipe for lowering blood cholesterol or curing insomnia …. But there is a certain freedom, having conquered those inner fears, a lucidity of movement and speech (with luck) that is ready, waiting to be experimented with, if the individual allows their character to envelop them.

On a Sunday afternoon, emerging sleepy-eyed after a rather curtailed last night of performing, I wandered down the lane … I met a couple of neighbours, good friends. We began talking as we walked, about the general goings-on and dare I say it – even Christmas carol services, parties and activities.

In my rather dazed state, I could not help but think of the play, of how we could’ve easily been characters from the play (to a lesser degree!) and of how there are the potential for communities to exist wherever we go. Acting merely reinforces everyday life, exposing another dimension of ourselves.