Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Interview: Katherine Manners

Katherine Manners is currently starring in The Hundred We Are at the Yard Theatre.

She has worked regularly at the National Theatre, in the West End and at some of the UK’s most renowned regional theatres, as well as touring internationally with Sam Mendes' Bridge Project production of Richard III. 

Katherine’s theatre credits include: From Morning to Midnight, The Revenger's Tragedy, Coram Boy and The House of Bernarda Alba (National Theatre), Rats' Tales (Manchester Royal Exchange), Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith), Richard III (Old Vic) and A Life of Galileo (Birmingham Rep / RSC).

She is currently developing a script at the National Theatre with director Melly Still, and is also working on a sitcom with What Larks! Productions and Boxfly Media.

I recently spoke to Katherine about her latest stage role…

I love the concept behind The Hundred We Are, it is fascinating! What were your first impressions when this part came up?
I found it incredibly invigorating and was taken by the pace of it. It moves so fast and I think that’s something we very much feel when performing it – it’s a bit of a ride! As soon as it starts it’s over before you’ve had the chance to take it all in. There are so many changes and twists and turns. The audiences have seemed to really like, follow and get it.

Can you tell me about the concept? 
It’s very light hearted and there is a lot of silliness. I suppose the main principle of it is that there are three women on stage, but they’re all the same person - the same woman. What the writer has explored is this idea that each of us is compiled by these three souls, or three sorts of personalities, which take the lead at different points in our lives and guide us. He explores what that internal dialogue would be like if you separated the three. 

Is that something you could relate to?
Yes, especially to the woman who is coming into her mid-thirties and feeling the bite of acquiring a mortgage, having to buy double glazing and be a bit more grown up. Then there’s my younger self who is saying, “Just go out and get really hammered! It doesn’t matter”, and then there’s my older self going, “When did you last check your pension plan?” I really did relate to my character who is number 2 and representative of the middling soul in her 30s to 40s. I do feel this tear, this dilemma. The play also explores what happens when you try and shut those voices down [laughs] and how important it is to recognise and embrace our entire selves. 

The cast of The Hundred We Are

Well I’m sure the beauty of The Hundred We Are is that is has such wide appeal – people of all different ages will have different experiences as they will relate to different characters in different ways. Do you think that’s the case?
I hope so! I think you’re right; hopefully people of different ages and mind sets will come out having identified with a different character. It’s very short, only an hour and a half, so it’s over before you realise. It’s beautifully done, the set is fantastic – it is visually quite beautiful and the Yard is a wonderful space. It’s new and rough around the edges; the people who run the Yard are doing really wonderful things and are very ambitious. It’s a very nice place to hang out… if you can find it! It’s not the easiest place to find, but it’s worth the adventure [laughs]. 

Did the fact that there are three of you playing the same character create any particular challenges during rehearsals?
Not really, the three of us are very clearly defined in the script in terms of objectives and goals. It was more about trying to make sense of it, you can’t really make sense of it because it doesn’t make sense… and that’s ok. As an actor you have to make peace with that. It doesn’t have logic because often the human mind doesn’t have logic. You have to find the emotional truth of the next two lines and try not to worry about the next ten pages. I love the ambiguity and barminess of it! 

What is everyone like to work with?
It’s been really wonderful! Ida Bonnast, who is an amazing Belgian actress, is playing number one and then Karen Archer, who is also very wonderful, plays number three. We all get on very well which is very lovely and lucky! Our director, Jamie Harper, has been incredibly articulate and passionate as well as patient [laughs] with three highly opinionated women. It’s a Swedish play which has been translated by Frank Perry who has done a fantastic job! He’s been in quite often and has been very supportive. It’s been a hoot! 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Hundred We Are runs at the Yard Theatre until Saturday 8th November 2014.
Please visit for info and tickets.

Photo Credit: Mark Douet  

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