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Interview with Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

Judy Caine [00:00:01] Recording, OK, morning, Dani.


Danielle Smith [00:00:05] Morning.


Judy Caine [00:00:05] My name is Judy, Judy Caine, I’m one of the researchers for the ‘Shouting for 20 Years’ project. I’m here this morning with Dani, who’s going to introduce herself in a moment and is going to tell me about her experiences with Shout when she was with them. Which I’m not sure when that was, but all will become clear. So Dani, let’s start off with a dead easy question. Can you give me your full name and your age, please?


Danielle Smith [00:00:29]  My name now is Danielle Smith and I’m 37. When I was with Shout, I was Danielle McNeil, my maiden name.


Judy Caine [00:00:40] That explains the McNeil I’ve got on my list on the Smith that you are. Thank you. Something clarified. Thank you very much. OK, Dani, can you tell me first of all, when did you join Shout?


Danielle Smith [00:00:56] When?


[00:00:56] I can’t remember the exact date or, er, I think I must have been about thirteen.


Judy Caine [00:01:05] What is your first play then? Can you remember that?


Danielle Smith [00:01:08] I’m not sure, we, at the time when I started, we were doing plays about anything that meant something to us and we were kind of just, for the first few sessions, we were put into groups and discussing what was important to us. And then we were kind of trying to put together some kind of play and some kind of message. And then at the end of the erm, at the end of the session or lesson, if you like, we would show what we’d put together. Sometimes it was good and we kind of built on it in the next week, sometimes went oh that didn’t really work, let’s try something else next week. The first one that I remember doing is the Sex Education Show, where I was the, where I was, this, the eggulet, and the spermeo. I’m sure you’ve seen the clip.


Judy Caine [00:02:03] Romeo and Juliet.


Danielle Smith [00:02:04] Yes, where we we fall over in the teens.


[00:02:08] Short pause as Danielle’s daughter pops in to ask a question …


Judy Caine [00:02:17] OK, yes, so you mentioned there about, you did, you just sort of tried a few things and maybe expanded on it? I understand that was quite a ‘Shout’ thing. You all were in a circle and then went into break out groups.


Danielle Smith [00:02:29] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:02:32] Did you enjoy that? What did you like about ‘Shout’? What kept you coming back?


Danielle Smith [00:02:37] It was it was it was a safe space. And you could talk about things openly that perhaps you couldn’t talk about in front of your parents and stuff like that. So, it was a it was a safe space where you could talk openly and, it was sometimes when you spoke about things, some people’s opinions were sometimes quite strong, but you were never judged for it and it was discussed openly. So sometimes you’d go in with one opinion about something and you’d walk out with a complete another, because you’d you’d get more information about it. Where as it was usually things that you wouldn’t really want to discuss with your parents.


Judy Caine [00:03:17] Is there any one thing that really sticks in your mind that was really, really useful or really interesting for you?


Danielle Smith [00:03:25] There was so much because like it was you were learning as well. Paula got people in to talk to us about things like because we would be doing plays about drugs. And the majority of us didn’t really have much experience in drugs or any idea, really, but we didn’t. So we had leaflets that would tell us what the different drugs were, what they looked like, what they did to you. I mean, most of us probably experienced somebody around us smoking weed or something, but we were doing stuff about like harsher drugs that we never experienced, and you know, she got people to come in and talk to us about it. And we were doing a sex show with people coming in who were STD nurses, I’m not sure what the actual name is.


Judy Caine [00:04:18] Danni can you just bear with me one second – post man!


Danielle Smith [00:04:20] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:04:20] Thank you. Judy goes to get post.


[00:04:22] OK, right, so you were telling me about you had this woman coming to talk about STDs and stuff?


Danielle Smith [00:04:27] Yeah, we have nurses can talk to us about STDs. We had leaflets to go on with them, with drugs. And sometimes people put together like opinions that some sometimes think we’re a bit iffy. Like I always as a kid thought, you know, people who did drugs were junkies. And that was that. I just thought they were junkies. That was they all drugs junkies. And then when you learn a bit more about it, you’ve got people who are addicted to prescribed drugs, that think it’s OK because that’s what the doctor gave them. You know, they trust the doctor. You’ve also got people who smoke a bit of weed because they’re in pain. And it’s not so much to get high that they just don’t want to be in pain anymore. And people who drink. I thought drinking was just totally normal because my parents drunk and that’s, my family drink, you know, special occasions and stuff. So I just thought that was a normal thing. And then when people talked about their experiences of parents with alcoholism issues, it kind of made me look at it from a broader point of view because I just hadn’t thought of it like that.


[00:05:33] Second visit from Dannielle’s daughter who was very intrigued as to what we are doing.


Judy Caine [00:05:37] OK, back in, so it sounds to me like ‘Shout’ had quite an impact on you when you were in it.


Danielle Smith [00:05:45] Yeah, definitely. It was it was like an open counselling session. Like if anything had been bothering you, you could talk to your friends about it, you could talk to Paula about it. Paula was always very open to discussing anything, really, and she wasn’t judgey either, so that was nice.


Judy Caine [00:06:06] That’s amazing.


Danielle Smith [00:06:07] My parents always, were always of the view that can you not do a play about something nice? (laughs) but as a teenager, I liked the fact that it was quite sometimes quite tongue in cheek. It was harsh. It was hard hitting it. If it made someone cry in the audience I was like ‘winning’, because it meant that I was good at acting as far as I was concerned. It’s easy to make someone laugh, but if you can make someone actually feel that feeling of like being hurt, I think that’s better.


Judy Caine [00:06:42] So would you say that ‘Shout’ not only has an effect on the kids that were it at the time, but it also made an impact on Corby, on residents in Corby in the town?


Danielle Smith [00:06:50] I think so. I think so, because we we always had, we always have something to say. We always had a point, we didn’t, although at the start when we were putting these plays together, they were a bit bitty and you had lots of different opinions and sometimes completely different scenes and scenarios. And somehow they mashed together into one play at the end. Yeah, they kind of got stitched together in a weird way, but it worked.


[00:07:17] And although we might not have known what our point of view or point of the play was right the beginning, by the end we did.


Judy Caine [00:07:27] What was your favourite play?


Danielle Smith [00:07:30] Oh, I don’t know. There was, there were quite a few. There was one that we did where, there was ‘Count Me In’, did that with my cousin Laura. She’s not with us anymore, so that was pretty special.


Judy Caine [00:07:46] What was that about?


Danielle Smith [00:07:48] It’s about bullying billion. Count Me In, yeah.


Judy Caine [00:07:54] That’s one I don’t know, because I wasn’t around when ‘Shout’ happened.


Danielle Smith [00:07:58] We did it at the theatre, so it was nice because a few more of my friends you hadn’t seen us before, came to see it. So that was nice.


Judy Caine [00:08:06] We that at the old Willows?


Danielle Smith [00:08:07] Yeah, the Willows complex, Ah …


Judy Caine [00:08:08] You miss it?


Danielle Smith [00:08:11] Yeah. That was a great place.


Judy Caine [00:08:14] Yes, it was. I’ve lived in Corby, it’ll be 17 years in April, so, I’ve done a lot in all 17 years, but I’m relatively new to the town, put it that way. So do you think, was there one play that you didn’t really want to do, maybe you thought, this is awful, it’s a really bad experience. Was there any place that you thought I can’t do this, I hate it?


Danielle Smith [00:08:36] No, no, no, I like, I like acting and in ‘Shout’ because we, we created our own scenes, we created our own characters, you wouldn’t really make something that you didn’t want to do.


Judy Caine [00:08:56] Good point. Yeah, people have said similar things actually. Do you think ‘Shout’ has impacted your life after ‘Shout’?


Danielle Smith [00:09:05] Well I met my first husband there, Paula’s nephew, Daniel, so me and Paula ended up being family.


Judy Caine [00:09:15] Ah, that’s confusing, Daniel and Dani


Danielle Smith [00:09:16] Yeah, Dan and Dani, the ‘Dan’s’ the priest called the when he married us.


Judy Caine [00:09:24] And what about in your working life? Has it affected your outlook, did it give you any life skills that you use?


Danielle Smith [00:09:34] Well, I think I have more of an insight onto what teenagers were like then, because, in ‘Shout’, people were more open. It wasn’t like a school where people only said what they wanted you to hear. It was people were open and honest. So I think had more of an insight into what teenagers were like then. But I’m not sure if that helps me as a teacher teaching teenagers now, because things have changed so much, the Internet has changed everything. But I think it has given me more empathy for teenagers and what they might be going through in their personal life, because you just don’t know. And we had so many vulnerable kids in ‘Shout’, some who shared their personal experiences and some who didn’t. But you just know that they’ve been through something bad. You could just tell.


Judy Caine [00:10:30] So is ‘Shout’ needed now, would it work now, or was it of its time?


Danielle Smith [00:10:36] I don’t know, I I loved it. It was brilliant, it was something that, I mean, if it was horrible and raining outside, you didn’t want to go out with mates anyway, and on a Tuesday we went ‘Shout’. So, it was it was great and, yeah.


Judy Caine [00:10:57] How did you hear about it? Was it through school or?


Danielle Smith [00:11:00] No, it wasn’t through school. I can’t even remember. It was, I joined right near the beginning, but they did like they did, they did some kind of Summer show about like Balimia and stuff like that. And I came in just after that.


[00:11:15] I don’t know how I heard of it. My mom might have heard of it or something and told me because I was I was really into drama at school. I really enjoyed drama at school. So I said that to my Mum and told my Mum I wanted to be an actor. So she found this ‘Shout’ group for me. And I also did some stuff with CATS as well, Corby Amateur Theatrical Society.


Judy Caine [00:11:39] Have you carried that on?


Danielle Smith [00:11:39] Erm, I haven’t done CATS in a while. I’ve done, I’ve done a few Eclipse shows another Corby Theatre Group, but due to covid, we haven’t done anything in a while. We’re supposed to do a country show of country music back in September, but that’s been put on the back burner for a bit.


Judy Caine [00:12:03] So you sing as well?


Danielle Smith [00:12:04] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:12:04] Dance?


Danielle Smith [00:12:07] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:12:07] Multi-talented!


Danielle Smith [00:12:10] Yeah. I used to be the lead singer of a rock pop covers band called Pandora.


Judy Caine [00:12:17] Wow. Did you do any singing and dancing in the ‘Shout’ projects?


Danielle Smith [00:12:21] Um, yeah, we did a bit. It was more hard-hitting stuff but sometimes we managed to chuck it in every so often. I think in that ‘Count Me In’ play I sung Ave Maria at a, in a funeral sceen. It got chucked in there somewhere.


Judy Caine [00:12:42] So what do you think about the Shouting for 20 Years project? Do you think it’s … well, you tell me what do you think about it?


Danielle Smith [00:12:47] Ah, see, when we first, when we first like spoke about it and we were going to go off to Grendon or something, and it was everyone was so excited about it, and then COVID came and …


Judy Caine [00:13:01] Oh, I know I had all the residental booked and everything.


Danielle Smith [00:13:05] I know, we were we were all really looking forward to that. It was nice to see everyone at the reunion. There were lots of faces that I didn’t know because, obviously, with me being at the beginning of ‘Shout’, I went off to college and uni and got married and had Max and, you know, and ‘Shout’ obviously carried on without me and there were lots of faces that I didn’t know.


Judy Caine [00:13:29] How many years were you with ‘Shout’?


Danielle Smith [00:13:30] Probably three or four, but then when I was at college and uni, I came, I came back and helped out backstage and stuff for shows and did like sound and lighting and things like that.


Judy Caine [00:13:45] How did that work? When you went away, you went to college, you came back, were you then more like a mentor come helper or did you just drop back into being an actor?


Danielle Smith [00:13:52] Yeah, more of a helper and I’m, I did graphics at college and uni so I ended up doing a lot of the shout graphics like posters and the programmes and things like that.


Judy Caine [00:14:11] Which which programmes that you do? We’ve got quite a few programmes.


Danielle Smith [00:14:13] Erm, I did all of the Look Both Ways stuff. Because that that ended up being a film as well, so I had to change it into a DVD cover instead of just the programme, yeah.


Judy Caine [00:14:31] I’ve got that lurking somewhere on my desk – you can only see the tidy bits of the office. What you can’t see is a complete tosh over there.


Danielle Smith [00:14:37] Same.


Judy Caine [00:14:37] You don’t want to see what’s underneath.


Danielle Smith [00:14:37] Pile of random kid stuff over here.


Judy Caine [00:14:47] Yeah, fair enough. OK. Yeah, you did the logo in fact for ‘Shouting for 20 Years’ didn’t you?


Danielle Smith [00:14:54] Yes, I also did the logo for the Rooftop Gallery.


Judy Caine [00:15:00] Did you?


Danielle Smith [00:15:02] That was me.


Judy Caine [00:15:04] Is that what you do as a job now?


Danielle Smith [00:15:06] No, no, I did, I did for a little while, while I was, while I was still at university. But now I’m a teacher.


Judy Caine [00:15:14] Where do you teach?


Danielle Smith [00:15:14] Molton School and Science College.


Judy Caine [00:15:20] What subject?


Danielle Smith [00:15:21] Design and technology.


Judy Caine [00:15:21] Great, do you enjoy it?


Danielle Smith [00:15:25] Yeah, I do, COVID’s made it really difficult because we haven’t really done much practical, which means that we’ve got a lot of work to up skill all the kids when we get, finally get them back into the workshop. It’s going to be absolutely manic.


Judy Caine [00:15:39] Do you use any of the skills you learnt in ‘Shout’ in your teaching?


Danielle Smith [00:15:43] Um, I’ve been told I’ve got good, good vocal, what’s the word?


Judy Caine [00:15:53] Projection?


Danielle Smith [00:15:53] Projection, that’s it, good vocal projection. I’ve also got a death-stare (laughs).


Judy Caine [00:15:57] Very useful teaching.


Danielle Smith [00:16:03] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:16:03] OK. Right. Well, we’ve pretty much romped through all my questions really. Is there anything you’re burning to tell me about your ‘Shout’ experience.


Danielle Smith [00:16:16] No, really. Can’t think. No, not really. It was like I say, it was like a counselling session sometimes, and if anyone had any issues or felt belittled by someone, because sometimes you’d, like, make a joke and someone took it a bit too seriously and things like that, it was always talked about. And you’re able to take people’s perspective into account, whereas in your usual day to day life, it’d probably be brushed under the carpet and nobody would say anything. So it was it was an eye opener.


Judy Caine [00:16:57] Did you feel it really did give you a voice?


Danielle Smith [00:17:00] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:17:02] Because Paula told me it was called Shout – do you know how the name came about? I’ve not asked anybody that.


Danielle Smith [00:17:08] I think it was because we were shouting about what kids want to shout, about giving kids a voice. That was my opinion of it or my view of it.


[00:17:19] Oh, there was one time we joined the the what’s it called where they have all the floats and stuff.


Judy Caine [00:17:28] Carnival?


Danielle Smith [00:17:28] Yes, we joined the carnival one year and we couldn’t decide on a theme. So we had like a load of themes. It was funny. And we just like singing and shouting and just having a great time. It was brilliant.


Judy Caine [00:17:41] Were you a walking entry or were you on the back of a lorry?


Danielle Smith [00:17:44] We had a lorry, we decorated it a bit ourselves. Some of us were dressed up as ‘Grease’, some of us were dressed up as totally random things that didn’t make any sense. But Paula was like, no, do it’s yours. You do it as you like.


Judy Caine [00:17:59] Do you have a photo? I’d love to see a photo?


Danielle Smith [00:18:03] Oh, I wish I did, I’m sure Paula will have something she seems to have taken, she seems to have taken videos of absolutely everything.


Judy Caine [00:18:09] Tell me about it.


Danielle Smith [00:18:11] I’m looking forward to seeing some of the videos of, of Laura and passing them on to Yvonne, that’s her Mum, she’ll love it. It was in, actually it was in the play Count Me In, I think it was Count Me In any way, that at the beginning of it, some kids stood up, in the audience and said something about, personal, about them, and Laura stood up and said, I might, I might have an incurable disease that I’ve had inherited from my father, but I won’t find out if I’ve got it or not until I’m 18. But we actually found out when she was 16 because it was so far gone already.


Judy Caine [00:18:58] Oh, I’m so sorry.


Danielle Smith [00:19:00] Yeah. So I think that might be why that play sticks out so much, because I don’t think I even knew before that, her Mum and my Mum had been best friends at school. So, we were like brought up as cousins as you are, but nobody ever discussed it with me until then.


Judy Caine [00:19:16] What did she have?


Danielle Smith [00:19:19] Juvenile Huntington’s disease.


Judy Caine [00:19:23] Oh, gosh, that’s horrible.


Danielle Smith [00:19:24] Yeah, it was a horrible way for a girl, it really was, she hung on for ages. I think she was twenty eight before she died. And like we’d been told from about the age of 19, 20, you need to prepare for a funeral because the swallowing mechanism had gone, and usually in older people, once the swallowing mechanism goes, they usually pass away not long after that because they end up like choking on their own saliva. But I guess because her body was so young, had gone for a lot longer.


Judy Caine [00:20:00] Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.


Danielle Smith [00:20:02] Yeah, sucks.


Judy Caine [00:20:05] Yeah, indeed, that must have affected a lot of the ‘Shout’ people.


Danielle Smith [00:20:10] Yeah, definitely, I got a lot of messages off people, but it’s nice that everything was documented because we’ve still got all of that.


Judy Caine [00:20:21] Yeah, I mean it will be hard to look back, I’m sure, when you see it. But then it will also be, oh God, that was a really good time.


Danielle Smith [00:20:28] Yeah.


Judy Caine [00:20:31] Well, look, I better let you get back to your little girl, and the aggravating clawing puscat.


[00:20:39] Thank you very much for your time. I’m just going to stop the recording, and I just want to ask you something not recorded.


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