We’ve been given access to a great opportunity – in depth interviews with the cast of an all-new play which will premiere at Carriageworks Theatre this September. Director Leo Charlton sits down with Paige Shaw to discuss her role in Amazing Grace…
LC: You’ve had experience of treading the boards at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Dalton, as well as with Lawrence Batley Youth Theatre in Huddersfield. How have those experiences shaped you?
PS: I started being in amateur productions for St Paul’s Methodist Church at an early age; even though not a great deal of training was given it really got me into acting and gave me the confidence to perform on stage. Being a part of Lawrence Batley was much more technique focused and was at times hard work. From this I became much more able to really immerse myself within a character both physically and mentally.
LC: Your previous play, and first with the LAC, was a production of Macbeth by Rich Francis. How did you find your first LAC production, and what did you take away from that?
PS: I had a lot of fun doing Macbeth as I have previously been in this play, playing Macbeth as a part of a GCSE Drama assessment. I really enjoyed playing a witch this time as it is a lot to play around with in terms of character, the director wanted very human-like witches to echo the fact that in history many women have been accused of being witches and killed as a result. I found this really clever and added an eerie vibe to the play.
LC: After doing Shakespeare, what made you think ‘this is a project that I want to be a part of’?
PS: I find that in Shakespeare as the language is so far detached from our own that it is quite difficult to act naturally. Amazing Grace is a very naturalistic play in terms of acting style and I find that it’s much easier to empathise with the characters to make them your own. The story line is very deep in terms of emotions and it’s also a play where you really need to concentrate to understand exactly what it is that’s going on, I really like that.
LC: Compared to previous productions, how has the process for Amazing Grace been different?
PS: Being in an original play where the writer is also the director adds a lot of flexibility when it comes to the characters and how they should/ could be played and I’ve really enjoyed making Female Past my own.
LC: Female Past is a hell of a character – why do you gravitate towards her?
PS: Female past is a very strong character, especially for a woman. I find it admirable that she will just speak her mind so freely without a care of what Man Past or Lockwood think of her, I think there’s a lot to learn from that.
LC: Do you think that her relationship with Man Past and ultimately Lockwood goes some ways towards defining her, and ultimately the stability of the triangle that forms from them?
PS: Not really, I feel like it’s the other way around. I feel like she’s the backbone of the group and Man Past and Lockwood look to her in times of trouble, as they are much more care free than her she’s responsible for keeping things afloat- until she comes along…
LC: It is no secret that you have been ever-present at the writing stage, working with Leo on this from first draft to the finished product. What did you see in the script that made you want to come onto this project, and what do you like about the finished version?
PS: I love the depth of the play, it really explores the emotional spectrum that us as humans can experience. It deals with mental health, love, trust and forgiveness. It has so many layers that I think it could be watched more than once and people would pick up on something new every time. I really love the ending of the play, in a way it’s bitter-sweet, but it’s also just sad.
LC: How has the experience been for you, and what do you think people who come to see this play will get out of it?
PS: I’ve really enjoyed getting to grips with who Female Past is as a person. The rehearsals have been both physically and emotionally demanding so I really hope the finished product will show this! This play is really different from anything I’ve seen before, it’s very intimate, especially as it’s in The Round, I really hope the audience will connect with the play because of this and that it takes them on an emotional roller-coaster.
LC: What do you plan to do after Amazing Grace is over?
PS: As the play ends my third year of my Physics degree begins, so studying I guess! I’d love to do some more acting in the future, but I think I’m going to have a little break until I’ve finished my degree.