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Actor Erika Poole: ‘If you audition with an open heart, things are more likely to go your way’

Erika Poole. Photo: Andrea Heselton

My first job was as an assistant stage manager in 1977, touring in the Lake District before gaining a place at Webber Douglas [1]. After completing my training, my first acting job was with feminist theatre company Mrs Worthington’s Daughters in 1981.

The great thing about being young and inexperienced is you can just give it a go, no matter how nervous or under-qualified you feel. For the ASM job, I wrote to the company saying I was fresh out of school and would do anything. Having failed to get a place at drama school at the first attempt, I was determined to gain theatre experience. I was interviewed at Spotlight and got the job as ASM.

Similarly, having finally got in to Webber Douglas, at my first audition post graduation, they were looking for someone with musical skills. I could only play the recorder but I gave it my best shot, and after some deliberation on their part, I landed the job.

If you go with an open heart and show willing, things are more likely to go your way. The play, Angels of War, was about women ambulance drivers during the First World War and it was a brilliant start to my career. I saw how important a collaborative approach is when creating, performing and touring.

Soon I gained some political awareness, which has stood me in good stead throughout my time as an actor. I learned to always listen to other members of the company and to recognise and promote the worth of the female perspective, whatever form the production takes.

Most of all, don’t be too nervous, scared or fearful. Acting is, in essence, playing, so jump in, and have a good show.

CV: Erika Poole

Age: 59
Training: Webber Douglas Academy
Theatre includes: The BFG, Giant’s Baby (Polka Theatre); George’s Marvellous Medicine (Birmingham Stage), Johnny Come Lately (Manchester Royal Exchange), Shoot Me in the Heart (Told by an Idiot)
TV includes: In The Dark with Julian Clary, Grandpa in My Pocket, Ha! Ha! Hairies!, Great Wonders of the Industrial World
Agent: James Foster

Erika Poole was talking to John Byrne. She is appearing in Double Act at London’s Polka Theatre [2] until August 5