Abigail Lawrie: ‘Ours can be a brutal industry’
The breakout star of BBC1’s The Casual Vacancy – an adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel of the same name – Abigail Lawrie is now turning her attention to theatre. Though a school play veteran, her role in the Orange Tree’s When We Were Women will be her professional stage debut.
This being your first play, what would you say you’ve learned?
I’ve learned a lot about thinking about character, really dissecting the play as a whole. I’ve learned about unpicking it, sitting down and talking about it with everyone before you do it practically.
What was the major difference for you as an actor moving from screen to stage work?
The rehearsal process. When I did The Casual Vacancy it was a short rehearsal process – you kind of did all of that on your own. But here, working as a team with everyone for four weeks rehearsing, I’ve loved that. You really get to know everyone – of course I did in The Casual Vacancy as well, I’ve loved them both – but that’s the main difference. And performing every night, anything can happen in that performance and each performance will be different.
What was your route into acting?
When I was really little I was part of a drama club up in Aberdeen before I moved down to London. Just on a weekend, on a Saturday, I did acting, singing and dancing. But then when I moved to London, I was really lucky – we did a number of school plays a year. We did a musical, we did original plays that my drama teacher had written, and I got to go up to the Edinburgh Festival in 2013, which was so much fun. It had always been just one hobby that I had and I loved, but after Edinburgh I thought, maybe I should try and do this full-time. This is the one thing I really, really, really love, so why not go for it?
You haven’t been to drama school – has that ever been an issue for you?
I think I’ve been very lucky to do what I’ve been doing without any training, but drama school’s something that I’m always thinking about going for. Because, of course, you can always learn so much more. And I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been to drama school and loved it, and I’ve also met people who say that it wasn’t right for them. So it’s something that I kind of have to think about now.
Looking forward, are there any companies or people you’d particularly like to work with?
Really, right now, I’d just love to do anything. Anything that comes my way. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people already, who’ve taught me so, so much. I don’t really have a preference right now because I’m still learning, I’m still soaking it up, all the different genres. I’d work anywhere. Anything.
What’s the best acting advice you’ve been given?
Just keep doing it, if you really want it, just keep doing as much you can. Because it can be quite a brutal industry, I guess. There have been rejections already, of course, and it’s been something that I’ve had to get used to and not take it personally. That’s the one bit of really good advice I’ve been given: don’t take rejection too personally. You might just not be right for that role.
When We Were Women runs at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond from September 3 to October 3
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