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Thursday, 20 October 2016

*An Interview with Martha Mackintosh and Sharan Phull, The Importance of Being Earnest.


Interviewing cast from shows is going to be something of a new feature on Carpe Diem Emmie, something I welcome with open arms. What is better than enjoying a conversation about everything theatre with those who share the same passion as you.I was invited over to the Curve Theatre to have a chat with two of the characters from their recent Autumn production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

This was the first time I had ever interviewed cast members so to say I was nervous is an understatement. But as I sat down with cast members Martha Mackintosh and Sharan Phull they quickly assured me that they’d be nice and we quickly immersed ourselves into great conversation. I appreciated the fact they gave their time before a busy 2 day performance day of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Curve Theatre. You can read my review of the performance HERE


Q. So can you explain in one sentence what The Importance of Being Earnest is about?

S: What draws me is this fascination of these young women falling in love with an ideal man named Earnest who find out in fact isn't Earnest at all.

M: A play that is based on a ridiculous idea and laughs at some ideas in society.

Q. A lot of the audience that I saw when seeing the performance were older, do you think younger audiences don’t feel like they can relate to this?

S: My boyfriend’s grandma watched it recently and she said how it held great memories for her. The piece is accessible and all ages can relate, it’s an easy performance to be invited into once you give it the chance.

M: It’s the pre-conception that this play won’t be something that they can relate to or understand but actually there is so much within this play that they can..

Q. Can you tell me about your individual characters?

S: My character is Cecily Cardew. She lives out in the country, with her guardian Ernest or is it Jack? She’s trying to stay away from her teacher. She’s very much a 18 year old girl figuring out who is she and where she is in the world. My character doesn’t wear shoes for the entirety of the performance.

M: Yeah she tried on so many shoes for her character!

S: Yeah and she wears leaves, twigs and flowers in her hair. She's somebody who is very grounded. She is definitely a feisty and strong young women to play.

M: My character is Gwendolen Fairfax. She is a snobby socialite, who must be seen with the right people and is convinced she must marry a man named Earnest. She’s really quite false, she tries to be like her mother who has a heavy influence on her behaviour in the right places. However, once her mum is out of sight she becomes completely out of her shell.

Q. You’ve both got pretty exciting and different backgrounds which lead to this, what makes this different to the other things you have done?

S: I love this theatre. I was involved in Curve through their community productions as well as working here so it’s somewhere I always loved coming to. I knew that when I graduated from university that this was where I needed to be. There are some people here I worked with as ushers who now work in the offices and there is a real sense of community here. All of the actors here have their careers really supported by the Curve and it’s why I love it here so much.

M: This is the first play I’ve ever done. Most of my work has been done in the TV but I have always been interested in the opportunities to perform in a play. When I met Nikolai about this performance I came away instantly knowing that I wanted to work with him. I really enjoyed his ideas for the scenery and use of the costumes.

Q. What’s been the biggest challenge with this show? Maybe the mirrored scenery?

M: The challenge with the mirrors was to look at the audience and not the reflection of the audience. My biggest challenge was probably when we performed at the Birmingham Rep Theatre, which has 900 seats. I struggled with projecting my voice in such a big space, coming from a TV background everything is intimate and you have microphones on so you don’t need to project your voice.

S: I agree Birmingham came with it’s challenges.



Q. What was the creative process like for this show?

M: 1 Week in London, 2 weeks here in Leicester whilst Nikolai was working on another show and when we arrived in Birmingham to do the show there we had a few rehearsals before opening night.

S: I enjoyed the creative process with Nikolai, he wanted everyone to feel comfortable in their characters. He wanted to create each one individually with us.  We worked on our tea scene with the idea that we did it away from the audience so we could work on making it more intimate.

M: He really wanted the cast to take themselves out of the bigger picture and really understand their characters. 

S: Nikolai very much eats out your own ideas, he wanted it to be a collaborative creative process and I really enjoyed this about the creative process.

Q. Lastly, can you tell me what’s next for the both of you? Is there anything you’d like to primarily do?

M: I don’t have any plans at the moment, I will be re auditioning for things when I am back in London and seeing what happens. However Sharan is already sorted.

S: Yes I will be doing Shakespeare in Schools with the National Theatre. We’re going to be doing Romeo and Juliet and I am playing the part of Juliet. I am really excited about it and making this work accessible for young people in schools.

You can catch The Importance of Being Earnest at Curve Theatre in Leicester until Sat 29 Oct and is definitely not a performance to miss.

Big thanks to Sharan and Martha for their time to answer these questions, it was great fun chatting to them! thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: I was invited to interview Sharan Phull and Martha Mackintosh from the caste The Importance of Being Earnest at The Curve Theatre in Leicester in return for this post to be published. The photos are sourced from The Curve Theatre website.

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