With the company now in rehearsals, we interview the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School actors cast to play alongside theatre professionals, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves in King Lear.
Here we get to know Jessica, one of the Theatre School’s talented rising stars.
BOVTS Chorus in The Trojan Women, Madame Macadam in The Madame Macadam Travelling Theatre (both Bristol Old Vic Studio), Foigard in The Beaux’ Stratagem (West Country Tour), Cassius in Julius Caesar (TIE tour), Masha in Three Sisters, Lady Anne in Richard III, Doris in Flare Path, Mrs Candour in The School for Scandal, Lika in The Promise. Pre BOVTS: Hero in Much Ado About Nothing (Minack Theatre), Petra in A Little Night Music (Harrogate Theatre), Eliza in Pygmalion (NAT).
Where are you from and how did you get into acting?
Born and bred in Nottingham, East Midlands. Both my parents are involved in the arts – my dad is a director and musician, and my mum is Director of Music at my old school but also plays the piano and percussion. My first show was The King and I at Derby Playhouse (now Derby Theatre) when I was 4. It’s safe to say that I didn’t really have a light bulb moment when I decided I wanted to be actor; it’s just something I have grown up doing, and love it more than anything else in the world!
Who are you playing in King Lear and what challenges have you faced in that role?
I am playing Gonerill, the eldest of Lear’s daughters. When telling people about Gonerill, the thing people say the most is, “Ooh, are you excited about playing a villain?” Now, I admit Gonerill makes choices that make her seem ‘evil’ – *spoiler alert* she does, after all give the command to ‘pluck out’ Gloucester’s eyes – but as an actor, I can’t think of her in that way. So the challenge has been finding the real motivation behind her actions; something that has been a hard task, but also very revealing and exciting.
What’s your favourite thing about training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?
When you become a student at the school, you are becoming a part of a family. The world class training goes without saying, but the atmosphere in the school is so supportive and with each year group being so small (12-14 actors per year), the individual care/attention is second to none.
How does it feel to be taking the Bristol Old Vic stage in your graduating show?
It feels incredibly exciting. We are so lucky to be involved in this unique production – getting to bridge the gap between training and ‘the real world’. Tim, Stephanie and David are a dream and every rehearsal feels like a masterclass.