With the anticipation of the upcoming performances of Northern Girls: Bridlington, Aidan from ARCADE sat down with our debut writers to get some insight into the thought's behind their pieces and what it means to be a Northern Girl to them.
The first of our 4 Northern Girls debut writers is Jen Burdon.
If you prefer to listen to the interview, please see the video above.
Hi there, I'm Aidan from ARCADE, and I'm here this evening or morning wherever, whenever you're listening on Bridlington beach with one of our debut writers for Northern girls Bridlington. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Jennifer Burdon. I recently graduated from the University of Lincoln doing Drama and Theatre studies, and I am living, and always have lived in Bridlington.
Perfect, sounds like you're the right woman for the job! I mean, that leads us straight on to [the] first thing I'd like to ask, which is perhaps a bit of a big question to just have sprung onto you, but in general, how do you feel about how Northern women are represented in the media?
I feel like there's definitely a stereotype around Northern girls and women, especially compared to like maybe like people further down south who is seen [as] more sophisticated and things like that and I think girls from the north, it's more that they're loud, and they're not really the main character more the funny side character. I know I found when I've been places to do performing and acting, I've kind of always been given more of the funny roles, whereas the people from other parts of the UK, are more the serious or the love interest are just kind of the main, main character.
Yeah no, completely I think there's this weird thing where, where our accent just instantly makes us a comic relief. Yeah, as if we're not, you know, half of the country. We're currently outside on the beach so if you can hear a dog that's just part of, part of the scenery.
So going into that a little bit more. You've obviously noticed all these things about northern women in media and you know, might not be consciously or not. But, in what you're writing at the moment.. do you challenge that in the character you've written or anything about it?
Oh yeah, I'd say definitely with the piece that I'm writing, the character in her situation. She is obviously a northern girl, but she is kind of not happy with being a northern girl because she feels like the North is a bit neglected and there's not many opportunities where she's from. And she feels like to be successful that she's got to leave the north, I mean, everyone knows that like everyone's like, ‘Oh, go to London go down south, that's where everything is’. And her character herself doesn't really fit in maybe with some of the Northern men and things like that because they're born and bred here and have no ambitions. Whereas she does.
Yeah, that's, I mean, and good- good for her! I think, I mean yeah, I think that's it's a really important thing that it's almost fed towards particularly in the arts from such a young age, but you're told there's no opportunities where you are and you have to almost escape. So, I was wondering if there's anything from this writing for you've done that’s, maybe changed your opinion or inspired you or, you know how you actually feel about where you're from.
I would say yes, definitely. I think when I started out this summer, I was myself completely convinced that there was nothing going on around here, and I myself would have to leave and go find something. Whereas, I mean just taking part of this, like, you realise that there are so many companies and their projects that are going on like in the north and although yes maybe I want to move out of Bridlington, I definitely don't think I want to move out of the north, like I originally planned. I think there's a lot going on and I feel like if I moved somewhere out of the north, I'd be a bit lost, you know, just a northern girl in the big city and it's just kind of you don't know anyone. Whereas, you can start making connections in the north, you're never far away you know just on Northern rail train and you're at a new opportunity!
Yeah, no I think that's - I think that's true it's and it's good for you, actually realised there is worth to the area you’re from or because it can be quite isolating, particularly I think creatively to think that you're never gonna be able to thrive artistically where you are.
So, we've sort of spoke a little bit about how this has inspired you as a person and how, you know, how your writing is, to an extent influenced by your situation is there now any sort of ideas going forward where you want to take your writing for, you know, might have been informed by what you've been making here?
Well, I think doing something about Northern girls, and we've really in the like workshops and things explored a lot about Northern girls and like who we are and our situations and we've just done all these little like not activities what's like a better word?
Yeah, yeah, it's just like all these workshops these like creative writing classes in a way.
When I write in the future, I think I'm not going to shy away from writing about the north and from my perspective, because I don't think there's loads out there that's very northern, really. I mean, there probably is but not in the mainstream that I've seen like when I go to uni I've never studied anything that's not that I mean there's things like John Godber and I've always loved him. And he obviously writes what he knows, and the experiences [he’s] been through. And I'd say, I’d definitely do that and that's probably because of this project.
That's great, I think, I think that's a really good point as well and it seems to be more I think in theatre, even than in TV where there's, it just seems to be, everyone is standard, standard, you know, London sort of accent to the extent where-just a little anecdote for you…
When I did an acting module at university, we were told that we had to be able to do a London accent of the characters in the play that we were given, and I sort of said, well I really can't do that accent very well, but everyone else in this room has an advantage because they don't have to try. Whereas for me I have to change my accent, but half of people in this room could never do my accent.
And so it's an interesting thing but your voice could impede the opportunities you have, which is so so yeah, make, make some northern voices, I'll get involved. I think it's great that you're embracing that identity.
And that brings me to, to a couple of questions to round off with, and you can choose which one you answer, because I think they might have a similar answer but it's, I think there's definitely a difference. So, either. What would you say a northern girl is to you, or what would you say, a Brid girl is to you?
Okay, I would say a Brid girl is - Oh that's a hard question even though like I am one it’s just like ‘who am I’? I’d say, very hard working, I'd say. Coming from a small town like Brid, you sometimes have to work harder than people from places that aren't as well- Well, I think we're a deprived town?
We are. Yeah, I'm pretty sure.
Yeah, I think, I don't think we notice that, I think we just naturally work hard. We are always you know, got a good sense of humour, but we just take it all on the chin, and we just vibe and just go forward.
Well, that was that was perfect. Thank you for joining me for this little, little seaside chat. And that was nice that I mean, for the
listeners benefit I've known you for like all my life, so it's like, ‘Hi. Can I interview you?’. Again, thank you very much and look forward to seeing your piece performed very, very soon.
Thank you very much.
Image Credit: Matthew Cooper.