The actress spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about appearing in Women in Power at NST City.
Hi Anna, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain a bit more about what Women in Power is about? Well the Greek play it’s based on (Aristophane’s “The Assemblywomen”) was written in a time when women in Athens were basically not allowed out of the house. In it, the women sneak into the Assembly (like ancient parliament) disguised as men, and persuade them all to put the women in charge of the city. In “Women in power” the premise is the same, but our brilliant team of writers have made it more relevant to the 21st century.
What were your first impressions when you originally read the script? The first scene I read was the one I had to do my audition tape with, which is about poo. It took my sister and I HOURS to film because we couldn’t get through it without laughing. Then when the whole cast read it out loud for the first time I was exactly the same. Even now over a month later the script still makes me laugh in all the same places. It’s just really bloody funny.
What was it about the story that made you interested in the production? To be honest I’ve spent the last year feeling really angry at the entertainment industry. The Harvey Weinstein news, and hearing all the horrifying stories from my peers through the me too movement really it me hard. So when I saw how unapologetically feminist the script was, and that It would be an all female cast, a woman directing, and a woman designing I was so sold. It’s honestly been such a treat to work with this group of wonderfully funny women.
Could you tell me a bit about your character and how she fits into the the story? God that’s hard. I actually play about 7 characters. I think my favourite is Chloe. She really wants to make her friends happy so she throws herself into the plan with complete earnest, without really understanding it. She frequently get’s things wrong but it’s only because she’s trying her best and it’s adorable. We also all have to play men and there may be a special appearance from a national treasure…
Given it is based on Greek classic – are there plenty of comparisons that could be made from when it was originally written to the present day with regards to attitudes towards women in power? Definitely. I mean obviously we’re allowed out of our houses now, but we still have a long way to go. Only seven of the CEOs on the FTSE’s index of the 100 largest companies are women. On that same list there are nine men called David. In this country we have only ever had two female Prime Ministers, and in the US in 2016 we watched a qualified woman lose the presidency to a man who has never held office, has a string of business failures, and a questionable moral history. Those facts alone tell you that we have a problem with women in leadership roles. But I also think the play is surprisingly relevant to how women are treated in general outside of leadership. Noura Hussein’s sentencing for defending herself from marital rape, Serena Williams medically necessary all-in-one being deemed “disrespectful”, Love Island’s Laura Anderson being called “Grandma” for daring to be a couple of years older than the other female contestants. These are all issues that were themes of the Greek text in some form, and all we’ve done is modernised the references.
What can audiences expect from the production? To laugh! Yeah politics and feminism might seem pretty heavy but oh my god is this thing funny. It’s proper silly, a bit slapstick, and has some banging tunes. Oh and poo references. Expect poo references.
By Emma Clarendon
Women in Power plays at NST City until the 29th September for more information visit: https://www.nstheatres.co.uk/whats-on/women-in-power