Steel Magnolias is staying at the Hope Theatre from 9 August – 3 September 2016 and all details for booking can be found by visiting the link below:
Lin takes the role of Clairee in this fantastic production of Steel Magnolias and I caught up with her to find out all about the show.
Hi Lin, thank you for talking to Break A Leg, how familiar were you with Steel Magnolias before you were cast in it?
Not at all, I watched the film when I knew I’d been cast as a point of reference, but prior to that I had no knowledge of the story.
When you read the script did you have an idea of how you wanted to play the character?
I find Clairee quite a mystery, I was quite unsure about where she was coming from. She’s clearly a woman with heart like they all are, but she does this thing where she pulls the rug from under and always has a witty quip. I wasn’t sure what that was about and it’s been really interesting, I was thrilled by that in a way because it makes the process of discovery in rehearsal so much more interesting. If you feel you’ve already got the character down pat on day one of rehearsals there’s probably something wrong.
As the play is set over a period of two years or more, it’s really great to think about how she’s growing and changing. Certainly at the beginning I don’t think that she wants to change, she needs to find her feet and I think that she does.
Are you finding that you change anything about the way you play her as the run progresses?
Change is too big a word, I think there are little moments where I always come away thinking I could do that better or make that work better. It was great to have some time off because the rehearsal period into the technical rehearsal, into the dress rehearsal into the first week were all so full on, it was lovely to finish the first week and have a couple of days to clear my head. It was good to be able to sit back and consider some of the tiny things, that to me is part of the joy of working in theatre because you can go back and have another go. She does a lot of coffee drinking and sweet eating at the beginning and trying to time that, it is one of the tiny things that I’m tweaking all the time.
Have you got a favourite scene, line or moment in the play?
There are so many great lines, I have some crackers so it would be very hard to choose. I do have an absolute favourite moment, which isn’t actually in the script and that’s the scene change at the end of scene one where Matthew has put in a moment of line dance. I just have so much fun doing it, also I love to dance but I don’t do it very well so I’m getting the line dance vastly wrong! On another level I think that Clairee has the soul of a dancer, she’s used to looking very glamorous, and on the inside she has a childlike curiosity about the world and I think that goes hand in hand with someone who would get up and dance!
What led you to become an actress?
I think it was something that I wanted to have a go at and it wouldn’t let me go, I wouldn’t say it was something I wanted to do from childhood, because I was pointed in the direction of academia. Also, back in those days you didn’t really think very seriously about jobs after University. I did a drama degree and it was in my final year, I did a little bit of acting, but up to that point I hadn’t because I was an academic. In my final year I did a play called Female Transport by Steve Gooch, I played a very bolshy character, the play was about six female and my character was the bolshiest. It was possibly that and it was possibly other things that led me to it and what held me back from thinking about doing it from a younger age was realising how much stamina you have to have to be an actor. Not only when you’re in work but to be out of work, too. It came to a point, though where I thought if I woke up way in the future and thought “I didn’t even try” then that’s not acceptable, so I tried.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and see the show?
It’s a play that covers the spectrum, it’s funny, really entertaining, lovely to look at because of the set. Under the humour is a very serious story. One of our reviews stated that it made the reviewer sit back and think about how he deals with difficulties in his life and I think that’s important, it’s not that it’s a message play but it should be something that you can apply to your life and think how does that affect me? It will have a bearing on your perspective and I love that as well as the fact that it’s enormously entertaining.
Huge thanks to Lin for chatting to me, I adored the production and I’m planning to watch it a second time, if you want a testimonial!
Photo credit: LH Photoshots