‘From making little videos in my room to being on a big stage’

Audrey Lawler interviews Grace Long (aka gdiddlydog), star of theatre show A Song For Ella Grey for SCENE.

(Image: Northern Stage)

After amassing over 700k followers on TikTok for her unique style of comedy videos, Grace Long (AKA ‘gdiddlydog’) sat down to chat with York Vision, who have approximately 136 TikTok followers.

“I’ve spent the last couple of years doing my TikTok, and that’s sort of become my main job which is lovely.

“I started my videos as a way to get in the room a bit more, it kind of happened that way.” 

Now, Grace is starring in A Song For Ella Grey, which is touring the country. At the time of this interview, the show was running at York Theatre Royal, the second stop on its nationwide run.

“It’s so interesting going into a new theatre, because we’ve just spent a few weeks at Northern Stage in Newcastle so going into a new space is a bit like ‘ooo!’. It’s all quite the same but I think it’s such a lovely space, it’s a very traditional space.”

Post-drama school, this production marks a professional stage debut for Grace, beforehand her experience consisting of “indie film and a little bit of TV.”

“You have to prepare for any job acting-wise but with theatre, I knew I would have to make sure I was in shape a bit more and I was looking after my voice and I was ready to move about and make sure I went to bed on time.

“Going from making little videos in my room to being on a big stage… I was very nervous, which was nice. I was excited for the challenge of it!”

A Song For Ella Grey follows the lives of five young people living in the North East, navigating friendships, life, and growing pains, all through the play’s use of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice incorporated into the modern retelling. The play has been adapted from Tyneside author David Almond’s 2014 novel of the same name.

“I knew of David Almond because of Skellig from primary school. David does a lot of bringing the magic alive in the North East.

“For me, it’s a lovely coming of age story that deals with grief.

“It’s about love, loss, and it’s set in Newcastle!”

Grace was heavily involved in the process of creating the play, seeing the production right from its early stages up until the final product. She worked closely with director Esther Richardson and playwright Zoe Cooper during research and development.

“Working with them in the workshop, it was such a lovely environment and a very female environment which is quite rare. It can make a difference sometimes – I’ve been in very heavily male rooms.”

After workshopping the play, Grace was happy to be invited to tour with Pilot Theatre.

“That doesn’t always happen, and so I was like ‘Yes! Absolutely!’.”

gdiddlydog describes herself as a ‘small victorian child’ in her YouTube bio, where she also posts her short satirically relatable videos

Now, Grace’s career trajectory has taken another step up from her TikTok career to large-scale productions.

“I’ve been really surprised throughout the whole process of how big it feels. We’d go into rehearsals and we’d maybe work on the music. [There was] so much instrumental stuff, and when we started using mics that was really exciting.”

“I think the whole thing’s been really exciting as it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and tech was so exciting as it’s a very tech heavy show, so seeing how that got all of the beautiful projections behind – we hadn’t seen any of that.”

Esther’s deep dive approach to the process received appreciation from Grace, making an effort to deeply understand the text itself.

“Sometimes you might get a director who wants to go straight in and go off your impulses a bit more, but I quite liked school, so I like a lot of figuring out what it’s about.”

A Song For Ella Grey combines mythical storytelling with its modern-day backdrop, as the story is moved to the enchanting Bamburgh beach in the North East. “A lot of brilliant people coming together, who are brilliant at what they do, letting us have a play was really fun.”

“I think it’s a very magical show.”

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