Sunday, 8 July 2012

Miriam Margolyes: an Interview

by Courtney Spalding and Oliver Velasco 

As part of her global tour to celebrate Charles Dickens' bicentenary, Miriam Margolyes will be performing her show, Dickens' Women, on the site of the original Portsmouth Theatre (where it is believed Dickens himself once performed), at Portsmouth Grammar School, on Sunday 8 July.

What is it that draws you to Dickens’ characters? Of the characters in your show, do you have a favourite? Do you have one that is particularly challenging? 
 There is an exuberance in his writing that calls to my exuberant nature. He had a vivid imagination, a gift of language and a moral force I admire. My favourite is Miss Havisham. The most challenging is Miss Mowcher;  I have to stoop, do a Cockney accent, stand on a stool (knees!) and speak fast. 

It is believed Dickens may have acted on stage at the Theatre Royal that once stood on the site of Portsmouth Grammar School. Do you think that his own experience of acting and his love of theatre helped to make him a good novelist?
Not really; it was his passion for detail & his experience of LIFE.

Many of our pupils are interested in becoming actors when they leave school. What advice would you give young people thinking of an acting career?
Read, think critically, go to theatres,  imagine acting the characters you see. And READ. And work on your voice; diction, articulation, change accent and timbre.

What role have you not yet played that you would love to play, either on stage or in a film?
Mrs. Alving in Ghosts.

What is your proudest achievement outside of acting?
My work for charity: for carers, for Palestine, for the Deaf/Blind & for asylum seekers.

What theatre production or performance (at any stage of history) do you most wish you’d seen and why?
The first production of King Lear. It’s the greatest play in our language.

Which directors and/or actors have you most enjoyed working with?  
Istvan Szabo, Martin Scorsese, Sonia Fraser, Charles Dance

Who is the most poisonous person you have ever worked with?
The late Terry Scott.

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