My first theatre job was an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, touring Italy. I used to trawl Spotlight for roles despite having an agent (I’ve stopped doing this as much now, as I don’t find it good for my mental state), and when I saw this opportunity I got very excited and emailed my agent at the time begging him to put me up. It was always a dream of mine to play Juliet.
I was surprised but delighted when the audition came through, as I had little professional theatre experience at the time. We were told to prepare a monologue. I was determined to get the part, so I spent an afternoon searching for the perfect speech at Samuel French’s play bookshop. I chose a male character – Freddie in A Brief History of Helen of Troy by Mark Schultz. It was a love proclamation so I thought it was perfect for Juliet, but I flipped the gender nouns and changed the female names to male. I’m not sure if you’re meant to do that, but I guess it worked out: I got the part.
Arriving at the airport alone with three months’ worth of clothes was daunting. I set about searching for my fellow cast members – we had been sent a list beforehand and, of course, I had googled them all.
It was a gruelling tour of the whole of Italy: two shows per day, six days a week, with a get-in at 7am. We’d be finished by lunchtime and then travel hundreds of miles across the country. But it was such a great opportunity to see Italy, wandering through piazzas and gorging on gelato, pasta and pizza.
In the end, we were so familiar with the show that we didn’t balk at an audience of 1,500. I definitely learned to feel relaxed on stage. Looking back, I think I played Juliet in quite a safe, obvious way, and, given the chance again, I’d love to do something different with her.
I would advise a young actor to use the rehearsals as a chance to try stuff out. You should try to get beyond the feeling that you need to convince fellow cast members that you are good enough. You should have the confidence in yourself to know that you have been chosen for a reason, so your suggestions are equally as valid as theirs.
Training: Drama Studio London
Theatre includes: All-female production of Posh at the Pleasance; touring productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet
TV and film include: Game of Thrones, Tracey Ullman’s Show, Hanna, Our Girl, Ransom, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy, Pinkie
Agent: InterTalent Rights Group
Lucy Aarden was talking to John Byrne