Karen Fishwick discovered a desire to perform while attending local drama classes as a child. Now appearing in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, she tells Tim Bano why she has never looked back…
What drew you to performing?
I’m not 100% sure where it came from initially. I was born into a really musical family, both my parents are musicians, and I started playing the trumpet from a really young age. So I went into the music side of it first. The hallway of our house had all these instruments – tubas and euphoniums – because my dad would repair them for the kids. Music is a huge part of who I am as a performer.
How did you turn from music to acting?
When I was in primary school, a school pal asked me to go along to local community drama classes. There were five of us in the class and we would just devise this Christmas show. I remember it was euphoric: every Tuesday night, going in to create and show off and be funny and silly with all these people who wanted to do the same thing. There really was no looking back after that. I wish I was more interesting, I wish I could say I wanted to do something else, but I’ve just wanted to do it since I was about 10.
Did you train as an actor or musician?
I went to Motherwell College to do musical theatre, and as I was coming towards the end of it I realised I wasn’t sure that was where I was going to excel. They were just introducing the BA in acting, so I moved over to that. I always thought I’d go to drama school afterwards, but by the time I finished the BA I was like, ‘Do you know what, I’m ready to get out there.’ The drama school thing fizzled away, which was weird because I was so convinced that was what I was going to do. You almost forget that the aim of the game is to get out there and start making stories, not to just get into drama school. I got an agent pretty quickly and it’s just been rolling since then. But I’ve worked my butt off for it, I’m not gonna lie.
You were in Glasgow Girls too, another musical set in Scotland, so there are similarities between that and Our Ladies, is that right?
Yeah, the fact you’ve got two Scottish shows filled with women and made by women. It’s such a joy to be among all these women who are so generous. There were people out there who were like, ‘Ooh, competition’, and I’m like, ‘No. That’s the wrong mentality. We should be cheering each other on.’ It’s a reason to celebrate. This is the time when women’s voices are being heard the way that they should be heard.
Have you performed in the West End before?
No. I just never thought it would be a world that I would slot into easily. I thought I didn’t fit that frame, so I’d come to terms with the fact that it was something I’d never do. Which is why Our Ladies is so liberating. We get to stand on that stage exactly as who we are and go: ‘You know what? This is me, this is who I am.’ Our choreographer, Imogen Knight, says: “Allow your body and voice to take up that space because it means you’re alive.” We’re all absolutely buzzing to take it to the West End stage, because it doesn’t really fit in. We’re going to rip it up a little bit, I think.
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, until September 2