Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Pre-Rehearsal

In this introductory interview, Ony reveals how her childhood love of fairies began her interest in Shakespeare and how Hero's personality differs from the other lead woman of the play, Beatrice.

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Time: 6 minutes, 11 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Hayley Bartley:

My name’s Hayley Bartley and these are the Adopt An Actor podcasts for 2011. I’m here with Ony Uhiara who plays Hero in Much Ado about Nothing. So my first question is what was your experience of Shakespeare at school?

Ony Uhiara:

How I first came to know about Shakespeare? It’s a bit of an odd story for me because I think I was a bit mischievous at school, so I was always getting sent out of class. I was one of those kids who didn’t really go to the library at all. So one time I’d been sent out of class and instead of doing my usual bunking off, running away or something, I wandered down to the library and I was kind of going through things. I was quite into fairies and all that stuff when I was a teenager. I saw this blue book that had this cover of this fairy, princess, queen, and I thought, “Oh, what’s that?” And it happened to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So I stole that from my school library and that was my first taste of Shakespeare. I suppose I found it weird that I could kind of understand the story, even though it wasn’t even written in a way that I was familiar with at that age, but I just loved it. Yeah, that was my introduction to Shakespeare.

HB:

That’s really positive...

OU:

...But don’t steal things from your school library!

HB:

Have you gone on to do A Midsummer Night’s Dream at all?

OU:

No I haven’t. I’d love to play Titania. Yeah and I guess all through GCSE’s I was able to have a grasp of it and I suppose I tended to help other people in my class understand. “Oh well, they’re just saying this really. Even though there’s a lot of words they just mean this simply.” I really liked it.

HB:

That’s great and so how did you first get into acting?

OU:

Drama was always one of my favourite subjects, with English literature, and sports, and dance, and art. I was always that way inclined really, I was always a bit of a dreamer, so it was kind of something I liked to escape into in a way. Probably when I was about 14 I kind of thought, “Oh I want to do this for the rest of my life really.”

HB:

And did you go to drama school?

OU:

I did. So after my GCSE’s then I did A-Levels, and because I was never good at all the kind of academic, I was much more of a practical, doing person, I didn’t get the grades that I needed. Going through that I was learning “hmm it’s not really my strong point all this writing”, so I knew that I just need to do, I needed to be physical and I’m going to go ahead and go to drama school. I went to Guildhall and that was very lovely and cool, the course just sort of suited me as much as I suited it.

HB:

So onto the play, what were your impressions of the play coming into rehearsal?

OU:

I’d read the play and, you know, seen the film, the Kenneth Branagh version and the BBC version. You know when you have to re-remind yourself of what actually happens in the story. It’s so much fun and it’s something that highlights something that’s just at the base of us, the core of us. And I enjoyed all the mix ups, but then it frustrates you as well. And then you know all the stuff going on with Benedick and Beatrice, it’s just joyful and you’re like, “Come on, just get it together.”

HB:

But what about your initial impressions of your character?

OU:

I try not to make snap judgements about her. I’m still finding out who she is. When we’re at the point where we can start getting up on our feet, then that will teach me how to be in her body. How to be here, around all these other people, when she doesn’t really say all that much. Shakespeare’s really great in the way that he plays, not only Beatrice off Benedick, but Beatrice against Hero as well, highlighting one’s silence and one’s non-stop like a parrot. She’s definitely astute and clever and witty, when we see all the girls together trying to trick Beatrice into thinking Benedick – maybe she just thinks this is how I’m going to play my part as a woman in this court.

HB:

But despite the fact that she doesn’t say lots, she’s in it a lot. I’ll be reading a scene and I’m like, “Oh! She is there.”

OU:

Yeah, just pipes up every now and again with the little one liner like.

HB:

Yes so that’s going to be really interesting to explore when you actually get it up on your feet, because whilst you’re reading it it may seem like she’s not there a lot, but really she certainly is. Can I ask did you do any research before rehearsals?

OU:

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. With this I just really read through the play several times, kind of at my leisure, and understand as much as I can. Sometimes I might read it from a different perspective. I kind of have the mind that you’re going to go on a journey, you don’t really know where you’re going to go or whose going to be on the journey with you or what you need. I just kind of pack light in a way at the beginning of a rehearsal. Yes, it’s something that we are going to create altogether.

HB:

And so finally I just want to ask about the first day of rehearsal, so for people who don’t know, what do you do on that day?

OU:

Well, there were a lot of names to remember and a lot of nerves. We did a read through...

HB:

...Does that involve cutting lines?

OU:

No we didn’t start cutting lines at all. We just read through the play. It was a blur because I was very excited and nervous.

HB:

Have you looked at the set yet?

OU:

We’ve seen the model. It looks like it’s going to be cool and evoke lots of rolling hills and sunshine and water and that’s going to be nice.

HB:

And how about costume? Or is it too early?

OU:

I had my costume chat maybe about 2 weeks before we started actually. That was good to see some sketches and talk about colours and materials and how functional we can be with the costume. I think that from some of the paintings and drawings that Mike Britton [Designer] has taken inspiration from - You know there’s like drapes of fabric, not so much constrictive, but quite flowing. It’s going to have a less formal appearance, laid back, chilling out in the sun type of feel. HB: I like the sound of that...

OU:

...Me too...

HB

...I think that’s fitting.

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