Phoebe McIntosh: ‘I set about writing my own roles, because as a writer it gives you power’
Phoebe McIntosh was not content with auditioning for existing roles – so she decided to create her own work. She tells Giverny Masso about her solo show Dominoes, which explores identity, race and relationships in the story of a teacher who makes a disturbing discovery about her fiance’s family history…
What was your inspiration for Dominoes?
I always knew I wanted to write a solo show. I started writing little monologues inspired by personal experiences and I wanted to weave these together. My eureka moment was when I learned how British slave owners received compensation after slavery was abolished and there was a database where you could search anyone who received a payout. Dominoes is about love, and finding out who you are. It’s told in the context of a history teacher who, before her wedding, discovers that her fiance’s slave-owner ancestors owned her family.
What inspired you to write your own work?
In terms of my casting type, I might not be considered for many of the parts that are out there. I’m a mixed-race woman, but that isn’t always the same thing and people can have an impression of what they think a mixed-race woman looks like. I set about writing my own roles, because as a writer it gives you power. I can write roles without worrying that I don’t fill a certain box.
Do you do any other work outside of performing?
I’m a personal assistant and I am training to be a yoga instructor. It’s important to have some other work, as the nature of this career is not 24/7. When I work with different people, I can watch them and it feeds into my writing. It’s about not putting the rest of your life on hold while you wait for the big part. The yoga came about recently. As much as an office job has been great, I like to be on my feet.
How did you get into theatre?
I started performing when my mum enrolled me in a Saturday dance school aged six. We did everything from ballet to disco, although I don’t know how well I did it. It was not until I was 13/14 that I started acting and getting a lot of roles at school. I did National Youth Theatre at 16, which was a great experience. After doing a degree in English Literature, I did a Master’s in acting at Arts Educational Schools.
What else are you working on?
I’m working on a feature-length screen play of Dominoes and I’m excited to bring that to life. I also have a few other ideas for plays I want to develop.
What is your advice for aspiring theatre artists?
Learn to accept there isn’t a one-size-fits-all path. It can be a slow burner for some people. It took me a few years out of drama school to realise this.
CV: Phoebe McIntosh
Training: MA acting at Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick (2007-2008)
First professional role: Sam in Still Born (film) directed by Louise Cousins (2008)
Agent: Elaine Murphy Associates
Dominoes runs at the Lighthouse Theatre in Poole from March 16-17, Dorchester Arts on March 21, Stratford Circus Arts Centre from March 23-24 and the Bridport Arts Centre on April 6. The production is supported by Black Theatre Live and the Lighthouse in Poole