An Interview with Sascha Cooper: Tales of Tarot and Theatre
We at bjournal love celebrating local talent, especially unique talent. What started out as a bit of fun and a way to raise money for her school led to Sascha Cooper discovering she had a unique talent, one which she didn’t know she shared with her female ancestors. Bjournal spoke to her to find out more about her extraordinary life.
Tell me a bit about yourself, how did you come about working in Bell, Book and Candle?
I’m a bit of an all-round creative really, I’m an actress, a dancer, a psychic medium, writer, co-owner of a theatre company as well as theatre director. I’m also a hair and make-up artist and I basically came down to Brighton because I finished my training as an actress in London and wanted a change of scenery. I moved down to Brighton eight years ago because I wanted the same feel of London but not London, if you see what I’m saying. I got involved with a local cabaret group and the whole Brighton journey started from there really.
That’s quite a CV.
Yes, I mean since I’ve moved to Brighton I’ve started my own theatre company Crimson Horse Theatre and I’ve also gotten involved a lot with Brighton Fringe Festival and expanded my experience as a theatre director because I set up the theatre company and obviously Bell Book and Candle because I already did the Tarot readings from the age of eighteen but I never properly had a chance to explore it, probably because I was scared of it. I came to the theatre with my theatre company which was above the old shop and I don’t know what made me ask but I asked the owner ‘I don’t know why I’m asking this but do you have space for a Tarot reader?’ the reply was ‘are you one?’ so I said ‘yes I am’ and was told ‘go down and talk to the shop manager and I’ll put that through for you’ and the relationship with Bell Book and Candle has been constant ever since. Being in Brighton has expanded my horizons, I’ve been able to try different things and finally study to be a hair and make-up artist and that’s the story so far.
How did you get into Tarot Reading?
Quite by accident actually. I was eighteen, and I only really did it as a laugh to raise money for my school. I had just finished my A-Levels and all I had was a make-shift tent and a make-shift crystal ball and I was dressed up as ‘the gypsy’ with the hoop earrings and the big crystal ball. What I didn’t expect was a long queue that took me about an hour or two to get through after the school fair had actually finished. I had no idea what was going on outside the tent, all I knew was that I had all these people to get through. Afterwards, my mother and late-grandmother were outside and they said to me ‘what on earth have you been saying to these people?’ and I said ‘I’ve just been playing the part’ and they said ‘well, do you realise everything you’ve been saying is spot on?’ and as you can image, I’m shocked, I thought ‘no that’s a fluke’. What happened after that was I was taken around some of the local fetes in Devon – where I was living- and the same thing kept happening and I thought ‘what the hell is happening here?’. To cut a long story short, I went back to the same fete the following year and I kept getting people coming up to me saying ‘you know that thing you said? It’s come true’ and it just continued like that throughout the day. There was one client that I read, who was very much like Siouxsie Soux from Siouxsie and the Banshees and all I remember is reading her palm, holding it in a certain way and all I can say is that my body went into shut down. All I could hear was a voice saying ‘tell her I’m okay! Tell her I’m okay! No no don’t shut me out tell her I’m okay!’ but that’s all I can remember of what I guess was a chanelling. I didn’t know it was a chanelling at the time, but when I came to the woman was in tears. All I could think was that I had upset her and offered her the money back but she said to me ‘no you don’t understand, you channelled my late fiance he passed away three months ago from testicular cancer. You got his mannerisms spot on’. So, I still didn’t know what had happened and I came out of the tent and my mother said to me ‘what on earth happened? You look as white as a sheet’ so I told her what happened and then she dropped a bombshell. She then tells me that all the women on her side of the family are physics mediums. The last woman to practice it was my great, great, great-grandmother. The rest of the women in my family after her suppressed the gift because they were scared of it. At the age of nineteen I was petrified by this, but eventually I came around to the idea by doing the odd private reading and physic fair and I even took it to London. Eventually it took a ghost hunt that I was headhunted for, originally for my acting skills, but it was my medium skills came to the fore. This is going back about five, six years ago and naturally I’m still scared by this gift, I still thought it was a curse but it was a spiritualist church that helped me come to terms with the medium side of things. It’s really been since then that I’ve done the medium-ship side. All in all I’ve been doing this for sixteen years and never looked back.
Well, it works differently for different people. I personally prefer face to face because then you know how you can help that person. Especially if there’s somebody who has recently suffered a loss. Although I do phone readings, it’s not as personal. You don’t know how to judge the situation because you can’t see the person whereas face to face, I find, I know exactly what I’m dealing with and I am able to react accordingly. If you get somebody who has lost a grandparent, you can judge for yourself depending on how recent the loss was, whether to make contact with that spirit or not. You can’t take advantage of a vulnerable person, I definitely wouldn’t, if they had recently lost someone. I recently had to turn someone away because she had a stillborn in the last month and I had to tell her that the best way to handle this was not by going to a medium, that she needed extra help and support. I suggested she come back to me when she’s feeling stronger and able to handle the spirit. A lot of the time if you’re face on then you can deal with things accordingly, and you know how to help that person through things. Over the phone is too impersonal.
Have you had any really interesting contacts?
I’m not going to lie and say I’ve had really interesting ones, because I think that all my readings are interesting and amazing and whenever I reach a spirit, read the Tarot cards or even use a crystal ball, as long as the person is welcome and open to receiving that message. If I’m doing a ghost however, that’s a different kettle of fish. As a medium, you’re dealing with a higher form of energy and you’re leaving yourself open so that anything can happen. I do a lot of work with Adrien J Andrews whose a brilliant paranormal investigator and a fledgling medium so he knows where I come from as a medium but he’s also there to explore in a practical term, how much of the activity I was picking up is spirit. We did one recently over Halloween weekend down at the Marine Tavern. That was an interesting experience because a lot of spirits came through and I was able to either establish some of the history of some of the activity taking place and on top of that I was able to at least help one or two have the transition to the other side. That’s a completely different situation to readings but I still am amazed by what spirits can give me. It’s hard to describe.
Tell me about the theatre company.
I’ve always wanted to set up my own theatre company because firstly, it gives you the opportunity to put on the shows you like, and it gives you a chance to tap into the current trends. I teamed with another local actor Daniel Aherne because he was also in a similar situation to me in that he’s always wanted to start his own company and to expand his CV and his acting skills. We initially started it to build on what we had done already but as it went on I discovered I had more of an affiliation with the directing side of things because every time I went into a rehearsal I would find myself wanting to be more hands-on. Our first shows four years ago gave us an opportunity to explore our different styles of directing. Even now Crimson Horse still stands for trying different things and thinking outside the box. I think a lot of the reason why Crimson Horse is so special to me is because we’ve been able to give life to old texts such as Women of the Thesmophoria and also at the same time, last year we gave new life to the Russian folk tale Petrushka which I adapted and directed for the stage. Many people knew the ballet but not many knew the story behind the ballet. We not only give new life to texts but we also adapt old texts and give life to newer texts. Crimson is being passionate, Horse being the fact that the Horse always charges across new territory.
We’ve been working on our own separate projects for a while now. Daniel is currently working on a play in Worthing and I’m working with another theatre company on a play called I Love Lucifer which is opening today for a three night run at the Purple Playhouse so we’ve been concentrating on those projects. Next year we’ve got one or two new things plans, such as revising Petrushka, giving that another revision and considering a London and small UK tour. I’m also thinking of developing new work, which I can’t say too much about but thinking about the darker side of life in the sense what would life be really like if it was via moving dolls. Looking at the darker side of psychological existence. Brighton certainly has broadened my horizons since I’ve moved down here and if I hadn’t moved down here I wouldn’t be as willing to try new things. Although London gives you the opportunity, Brighton is underestimated because it still gives you those opportunities.
Sascha is available at Bell, Book and Candle on Mondays, Fridays 11-6 and 11-5 on Sundays. You can find out more about Crimson Horse Theatre here
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