This is Ellie's first blog post. This week she discusses how she became an actor, her thoughts about her character and the first week of rehearsals.
Transcript of Podcast
I was a child model when I was little, so I was used to performing for the camera and being directed. Acting in school plays came easily to me, and we had a brilliant teacher. At about the age of nine I joined something called W11 Children’s Opera which involved hundreds of children that were local to West London. I did that for about seven years. Acting became something of a natural creative pursuit. It became more serious, because it was something I enjoyed more than anything else and it led to me doing theatre studies. I never thought ‘Oh I want to be an actor’, it just seemed to be a continuation of what I was doing. I did my ‘A’ Levels and the grades I got meant I could go to university, and I was interested in costume design so I decided to go to Glasgow to do English and Theatre Studies. I was doing a lot of performing and designing costumes, but academically it was a struggle and I got by for a while, and then suddenly I realised I couldn’t write essays, that it really wasn’t for me. I got chucked out after three years, so I decided to apply to RADA and I got in. So there’s been a sense that it was a journey I was meant to take. I haven’t had to sort of fight for it too much, which has been an immense relief. Life doesn’t feel right when I’m not acting.
First Experiences of Shakespeare
My first experience of Shakespeare was Twelfth Night at school, I played Maria. We had an amazing teacher called Mrs Pinchbeck who didn’t mind that I couldn’t really write, she was someone who engaged people’s brains through other routes. I remember playing Maria, I really enjoyed it. I remember being surprised when people laughed.
I’ve performed once at the Globe theatre once, as Juliet in the touring production of Romeo and Juliet. We didn’t have a dress rehearsal or a tech in the space, we had about four hours on the stage before the show. There was a lot of re-blocking so quite a lot of it in my mind was remembering you’re meant to go to that pillar at this point etc. It was all quite last minute and I felt mildly panicked. But I sat on the stage that morning when there was no one else there, and I thought about how I’d dreamed of working at the Globe, what it feels like to watch plays here and what the Globe represents. There was a feeling of “Gosh this is a really big thing” for me, and I haven’t really told anyone. So I think that sense of achievement overpowered the sense of pressure. Also, we knew that the audience had booked their tickets months ago, and everyone was desperate to see the show. But I did forget a line, and it really threw me because I don’t forget lines very often and I really get cross with myself when I do, really, really cross. I’m so excited about getting a full run this time and Anne Page couldn’t be more opposite to Juliet in terms of her journey and her story and how much she appears in the play.
The whole of The Merry Wives of Windsor is about women being allowed to be women and have desires. Anne Page is the youngest character in the play. The play is all about life in Windsor. One of the storylines is about who is going to get to marry Anne Page. The Pages are one of the Windsor families, and there are four men who want to marry her. They’re all quite reputed men or men of money or men of distinction. Meanwhile Anne Page has already found the guy that she really likes, this gorgeously charming man called Fenton, and he – whilst the others are quite reputable and sort of distinguished – he’s squandered all his money and is a typical kind of wild boy. So she’s being courted by all these men, meanwhile she’s trying to convince her parents that she should get together with Fenton. All you see between Fenton and Anne is a small scene where they’re trying to work out how on earth they can elope together, but not be cut-off by her parents.
The first week
The week started with a meet and greet and a read through. And for the rest of the week we read through the play very slowly, and talked about it, Chris [Luscombe, the director] kept questioning what things meant. There’s a lot of quite colloquial phrases in the play that we don’t use anymore. So we try to find out what they meant, so we can fill the words with meaning and get the point across. We spent a good four days doing that. Then we got up on our feet and started literally standing the scenes out, in quite a simplistic way and we’re still doing that right now. And as I appear at the beginning and the end of the play I’ve not actually had much to do this week!
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.