‘Skate Hard, Turn Left’ is a new devised theatre show inspired by the world of roller derby, made in partnership with LRG! The show is performed by five women, all of whom hadn’t played derby before they joined Fresh Meat with us at LRG (apart from our very own Patti Swift who plays for Batter C Power).

Rachel and Yasmin joined Fresh Meat this February. We spoke to the actors to find out more…

What has your experience of Fresh Meat been like?

 Y: Fresh Meat has been incredible. It is so amazing to unlock a space in London with such interesting and amazing women. Everyone is pretty much in the same boat when learning the new skills and you really champion people to improve. Every week you see someone push themselves to do something they thought they couldn’t achieve and it’s a great atmosphere.

R: Yeah, I’ve loved it! It’s been both exciting and challenging but I think that’s what has made it so rewarding. I arrived for try outs like Bambi trying to ice-skate – a lot of falling over and the only way I could stop was going headfirst into a wall! It’s been so satisfying to learn each skill and also to accept that I find some way harder than others. We’ve improved so much.

How has training with LRG fed into the making of the show?

Y: The training has been a key learning experience for the show. We always talk about the space roller derby creates for women in rehearsal. I think the derby space is an amazing one, full of potential, and learning that first hand is probably the only way we can truly explore it. And of course we’ve all become so much better at skating. When I think how far I’ve come I am always really shocked.

 R: We also talked a lot about the experience of Fresh Meat – learning a new set of skills as an adult, challenging yourself mentally and physically and also how enriching being part of a supportive group can feel like. The positive atmosphere of LRG has really carried into our rehearsal room. I think it’s so important that as a theatre company, we can bring something authentic and truthful forward from the experience we have had with LRG.

 What’s the hardest part of learning roller derby and why?

 Y: The hardest thing is definitely overcoming mental and physical blocks you pick up. I always think ‘I can’t do this’ and just want to give up. The training is relentless and you really need to push through those moments of frustration. It’s really emotional – especially when you keep falling or doing things badly. Everyone has something they feel weaker at and you just want to skim over it but you actually can’t.

R: I agree, sometimes you just feel so tired and you wonder if you’re getting better, but you have to keep striving to get better. It’s when you push through that wall that it feels the most satisfying. I’d say it’s definitely a process that makes you stronger and braver.

 What’s the best part of roller derby for you, and why?

 Y: The best thing is the contact. I have really taken something from being so physically close to other bodies all working together and pushing themselves to the limit. I think it’s really healthy to be able to use your whole body in that way. I also think it’s quite rare. I really found it hard when we first started rehearsing to give all my weight to someone or try to push through a wall, but I think that this kind of strength and force can only be a positive, progressive thing.

 R: I’m a personal trainer when I’m not acting, so I spend lots of hours in the gym, but I haven’t done a team sport since leaving school. It’s so refreshing to be part of a team and inspiring to have shared goals. Those feelings apply to working on the show and doing Fresh Meat. I love the roller derby community – I’ve met a whole new group of people in London at LRG. Also, it feels particularly bad ass to be part of a confident group of women on skates – that’s a sensation we’ve definitely tapped into with the show. Come and see for yourselves!

Malena aka. Fenix in the rehearsal room with The Pack IMG_9495-1

‘Skate Hard, Turn Left’ by The Pack is at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN. Monday 3rd – Wednesday 5th July, 7pm (Previews).

More information and tickets: http://bit.ly/2t9zJ8T

Main image: George Ramsay