Advert
Advert

Tag Archive | "the Bard"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shipwrecked: Emily Taaffe takes on a Shakespeare trilogy

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Marése O'Sullivan

With only five years having passed since her professional stage début at the Liverpool Everyman, Irish actress Emily Taaffe has since taken the acting world by storm. She has performed as Irina in Three Sisters at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, as Daphne in the National Theatre’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Nation and as Abigail in The Crucible at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. But treading the boards as three of the Bard’s lead characters in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Shipwrecked Trilogy, she thinks, will be the most challenging of all.

It all began at the age of 13 when Taaffe joined her local youth theatre. She went on to study drama and theatre at Trinity College Dublin. Her involvement with her university’s drama society, Players, encouraged her to firmly set her sights on an acting career, and she had soon secured a place at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

“I applied to [postgraduate] drama school and was lucky enough to get in,” she smiles. “I’m really glad I chose to go to LAMDA. I had a lot of instincts and quite a bit of experience from being at Trinity. What was nice about Trinity was that I worked on all the aspects of theatre: I’d done stage management, as well as a bit of writing and directing, so I’d seen how everything worked. But LAMDA gave me technique, I would say, and the tools to be able to approach different parts. It kind of broadened my range in that way.”

Taaffe is now starring as Luciana in The Comedy of Errors, Miranda in The Tempest and Viola in Twelfth Night, at the Roundhouse Theatre. She laughs at the suggestion that there may be a well-kept secret to landing such amazing roles. “I think I’ve been very lucky in the parts that I’ve got. I’ve tried to work as hard as I can and I’m always prepared. You never know when you’re going to get a good audition. I think it’s your job to go in as well prepared as you can, because if you don’t get the job, at least you know you’ve tried your best and you’ve done as much as you can. There could be so many mitigating factors as to whether or not you get a job, so at least give yourself the best odds.”

Her three characters each have their own personal appeal: “Luciana doesn’t want to push her own interests. She’s always worried about other people. So what takes her by surprise is falling in love with, as she thinks, the wrong man – her brother-in-law – and it gives her a moral dilemma. Also, she’s quite prim and proper and that’s always fun to play. With Miranda, it’s a fascinating idea to play someone who hasn’t lived in the world as we know it – she’s never been culturally influenced like we have. Her relationship with [both] her father and Caliban was a really interesting starting point. I think she feels very conflicted between being loyal to her father, but at the same time missing Caliban. Then she starts to rebel. Playing that was great: wondering where that comes from, and how suddenly someone can just go from being very obedient to finding her own voice and her own desires, and following them through. Finally, there’s Viola, who is – for me – the most fascinating. She decides she’s going to disguise herself as a boy, so I had the challenge of playing somebody who’s playing somebody else. It was also interesting for me to think about the reasons why she chooses to keep that pretense up all the way through the play. They’re three very different characters, but they’re all great girls.”

Taaffe first auditioned for director David Farr to get the role of Viola, before meeting Comedy of Errors director Amir Nizar Zuabi to be seen for Luciana, followed by meeting them both for the Trilogy. The most difficult part about bringing each character to life was doing them all at once, the actress says. “I’d never done that before. Normally, when you’re rehearsing a play, you get to focus so completely on one character and one world that you can really immerse yourself in it, whereas we didn’t have that luxury with our three plays. I could have been rehearsing Twelfth Night in the morning and then Comedy of Errors in the afternoon, or a bit of Comedy and then some Tempest. Having to learn to switch between them was quite difficult, because like I said they’re very different. [The entire company] works hard though and we’re all in it together. There’s a great ensemble feel because everybody’s having a very similar experience; we can all support each other.”

Having never performed Shakespeare in front of a live audience before, Taaffe’s priority was to not be daunted by the Bard’s reputation. “I’m just trying to make it sound fresh and natural, sort of like it’s just coming from me rather than from something that’s been learned off.” Exactly how pressured does she feel, acting in some of the most renowned plays ever written, with all the audience’s expectation, particularly during the World Shakespeare Festival? “We began the show in Stratford,” says Taaffe, “and initially I was really intimidated. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. It’s the Royal Shakespeare Company. You look at the women who’ve played these parts before and you pale a bit, because you just think, ‘Oh my God, how have I sneaked in here?’ That’s really when you sit back and think about it, though, or when you’re talking to your friends, and suddenly you look up and see the RSC’s logo. But, actually, when you’re doing it – the show is a great company of 18 people – it’s just like doing any other play. You’re just always trying to do your best to tell the story and hopefully the audience is enjoying it. That’s really all you can do: try and do justice to the text, and be in [the zone] every night. I think that’s the challenge no matter where you’re doing a play; that’s always the aim.”

She remarks that while the plays may be centuries old, the characters’ emotions are timeless. Her favourite line of her character Viola’s is when she is confessing her true feelings for Duke Orsino, while still dressed as a man:

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?

“That bit’s just so beautiful,” grins Taaffe. “She’s concealing [herself] and at the same time telling him that she’s totally in love with him.”

Taaffe has several other Shakespearean characters that she’d love to tackle one day, namely Rosalind in As You Like It, Goneril or Regan in King Lear, and Lady Macbeth. “I’d really love to do Juliet too, before I get too old! Although the parts for women in Shakespeare are fewer and they might not necessarily always have as many lines, I think they’re incredibly powerful characters and brilliant to play, because they’re so complex – which, when you consider how long ago they were written, is really amazing.”

The actress says one of the best aspects about working in the theatre is the fact that she gets to collaborate with a team. “The designers, the director, the other cast members and stage management [all come together] to create a show. I just absolutely love this world, so I’d be delighted to carry on doing great theatre. I’ll mix in some film and television; hopefully, I’ll just keep doing interesting and good work. That’s my aim.”

The best advice Taaffe can offer any aspiring actors is to not compare themselves to others and to love what they do. “Remember, everybody’s experience and journey is different, so do what interests you.” She also points out that your passion will shine through during a performance. “Enjoy acting, it’s a great job, and I think if you’re enjoying yourself on stage, it makes it a lot easier for the audience to enjoy themselves. Personally, I really notice when I’m watching a show if someone’s having a good time. So if you work hard and have fun, hopefully a little piece of luck will fall into your lap.”

You can see Emily Taaffe perform in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s What Country Friends Is This? Shipwrecked Trilogy (The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night and The Tempest) at the Roundhouse Theatre, London, until 5 July. The shows will then return to Stratford until 7 October. Tickets are available on the Roundhouse website.

Image credit: Simon Annand

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Want to Write? The best of the UK’s Literary Festivals

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Marése O'Sullivan

2012 marks a major year for literature all over the world. From Shakespeare to Dickens to the best of Ireland’s authors, literary festivals offer a jam-packed few days of writing, reading and guest speakers, as well as the opportunity to indulge in the delights of each city. A Younger Theatre has checked out some of the best literary festivals that the UK and Ireland have to offer over the coming months:

The World Shakespeare Festival will celebrate the Bard as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Celebrations will be particularly centred in London as crowds flood in for the 2012 Olympics, but the event will also be marked in cities such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle, Birmingham, Brighton and Edinburgh. Beginning on 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday, and running until November, theatres all over the UK will have productions and exhibitions on offer.

The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon – along with staging many plays – will host an exhibition, ‘The Stories of Shakespeare’, in association with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. There will also be many other events, such as the Swan Theatre’s Creative Dialogues (Translating and Transposing Shakespeare, Reinterpreting and Reimagining Shakespeare, and Shakespeare and the Contemporary Artist). Stratford-upon-Avon will also have its own Literary Festival from 22-28 April.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London will host all of the playwright’s 37 plays on stage in Globe to Globe: “a multi-lingual Shakespeare project”, from 23 April to 9 June. “Each [play will be performed] in a different language [and] each by a different company from around the world”, says the website. The official opening will take place on the 21-22 April. In September, the theatre will also feature Stephen Fry’s first performance on stage in 17 years, as Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, from 10 August to 2 September, the Edinburgh International Festival will stage a Polish production with English subtitles entitled 2008: Macbeth, while Wales’s National Theatre will present Coriolanius in August.

The Dickens 2012 Festival will celebrate the two hundredth birthday of renowned Victorian author Charles Dickens (February 7) with myriad events over the course of the year. The main attraction is the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, “the author’s only surviving London house”, but ensure you visit before 9 April when the museum will close for a refurbishment. It is also holding a special Flash Fiction Workshop for 16-24-year-olds on 11 March. Young Writer-in-Residence Femi Martin will run this workshop as well as a number of others. The event is free but places are limited. The Museum will also play host to If These Walls Could Speak… on 3 April, honouring the new work of upcoming English writers over wine and sherry (drinks that Dickens himself was apparently partial to). You can also follow in Dickens’s footsteps on the Museum’s ‘Dickensian London Walk’ until 4 April for £10, prior booking essential (Call 0207 405 2127 or email).

The V&A Museum of Childhood is collaborating with the English Association and the Dickens Fellowship to present the Dickens and Childhood Conference on 18 June. Held at the V&A, student attenders can look forward to a £25 concession rate, lectures from Dickens specialists and talks from children’s authors. The Museum of London is also getting involved: it is running  an exhibition called Dickens and London until 10 June, including “manuscripts of some of his most famous novels, his writing desk and chair, artefacts, paintings and audiovisual effects to create an immersive and exciting journey through Dickens’s imagination”.

Known as the ‘Literary Capital of Ireland’ and the home of celebrated writers John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon, Brendan Kennelly, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Maurice Walsh, Robert Leslie Boland, George Fitzmaurice and Seámus Wilmot, the town of Listowel, Co. Kerry, will host the forty-first Listowel Writers’ Week. The event will take place from 30 May to 3 June. There are 14 three-day Literary Workshops on offer, covering genres from creative writing to poetry to screenwriting to journalism to memoir. There are only 15 places per workshop, each costing €175. The festival will also have readings from several internationally acclaimed authors, including Belinda McKeon. A weekly ticket costs €100, or €180 for two, and concession tickets are available for students. You can make bookings by calling +353 682 1074.

Galway City in Ireland is well known for its arts, especially literature. The twenty-seventh Cúirt International Festival of Literature, on 24-29 April, will showcase some of the best writing talent to come from the island. The annual Cúirt/Over the Edge Showcase on 25 April is highly regarded and will feature the fiction and poetry winners of the Cúirt New Writing Prize 2012. More events will be announced on the website shortly so make sure to have a glance at its Twitter or like its Facebook page.

Cambridge Wordfest (Spring 2012) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in style. Held from 13-15 April at various venues throughout the city, Festival Director Cathy Moore says to “expect a three-day party bursting with everything from big-name authors to debut writers, [to] personal inspirations [and] global themes”. They will be welcoming top-notch writers from all over the UK, including Julian Clary, Michael Portillo, Grace Dent, Charley Boorman, Ian Rankin, Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell and Andy Stanton. The festival will also have a wide range of literary events during the weekend: Writing Creative Non-Fiction, Ghost Writing Masterclass, A Room of One’s Own Workshop and Walking Tour, Poetry Workshops, Getting Published Today Masterclass and Crime Writing Workshops are just some of the delights to choose from. The box office is now open for bookings: have a look at thewebsite or call 01223 300 085.

The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival at Christ Church, Oxford, has one of the most spectacular backdrops of any festival. From 24 March to 1 April, the festival will display a wealth of creative knowledge and entertainment, and more than 80 events that will take place. The guest speakers include Peter Carey, Vikram Seth, William Boyd, Robert Harris, Anthony Horowitz, P.D. James and Ian Rankin. Check out the website for more information, as well as its Facebook page and Twitter. Call the box office on 0870 343 1001.

The Bath Literature Festival will be held from 2-11 March. This year’s festival has a smashing line-up of authors and events, from Writers’ Surgery workshops for anyone suffering from writer’s block, to Britain’s only poetry pub crawl, to a talk with The Times columnist David Aaronovitch. A fun few days in one of the most beautiful English cities, this festival is certainly not one to be missed. You can follow it on Twitter for the latest updates.

This is only a selection of the fantastic festivals and events that are going on throughout the country this year. If you’re a prospective or established author, or just a lover of words, soaking up the rich literary atmosphere will do your writing the world of good!

Image credit: Dickens 2012 Festival.

Comments (2)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

Join our E-Newsletter

---
Exclusive offers, opportunities and updates from AYT.

---


Supporting: