Interview With…Bethan Cullinane

The actress chatted to Love London Love Culture about starring in The Shadow Factory. 

What can you tell me about ‘The Shadow Factory’? The shadow factory is a story about the people of Southampton during the Second World War. It’s a little piece of history that I’d never come across before. It zooms in on the families whose homes were requisitioned by the government to build Spitfires after the Woolston factory was bombed. They had no choice but to hand their homes over and get on with it. It was a time of immense change and the most wonderful time to set a play.

What were your initial impressions of the play? I found it incredibly moving. Howard has written characters that you could meet tomorrow, if you haven’t already. So much of the story is real. He brings the early 1940s to today and makes it almost impossible not to feel what those people where going through.

Was there anything in particular that made you want to be involved with ‘The Shadow Factory’? I found the story fascinating. I have seen many plays and films about the Second World War, but I had never come across these events in Southampton. I wanted to be involved in telling other people! I also love the way the women’s stories are told. The War caused so much pain and destruction, but it also gave some women a freedom that they had never had before, and that is very important to acknowledge.

How have rehearsals been going? Very well… I think. We only have two weeks! We learnt our lines before we started so that we could get straight up on our feet. No scripts. It’s a bit of a baptism of fire, but I am loving it.

What has it been like working with everyone on the production so far? Delightful. Everyone is incredibly kind and patient. And funny. I’m learning loads about Southampton and the War too.

Could you tell me more about your character Jackie? Jackie Dimmock is brilliant. She’s opinionated, hot headed, adventurous, cheeky, and full of life. At the beginning of the play she’s just about managing to find some freedom in war time. The world’s changing and she’s having fun. But she has a lot to learn and the reality of the war is bound to hit home at some point.

If people are thinking about coming along to see the production what can they expect? To learn something. To laugh. Potentially to cry. And quite simply, to be entertained! There is a wonderful community chorus that fill the stage and steal the show with a number of songs, and the set and lighting design is absolutely thrilling. It’s a very exciting, action packed production. I hope you can come and see it.

By Emma Clarendon 

The Shadow Factory will play at NST City from the 30th January until  the 2nd March.

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