Interview with…Amber James

The actress chatted to us about starring Mike Bartlett’s Snowflake, making its London debut at the Kiln Theatre.

(c)Manuel Harlan

Hi Amber, thanks for talking to me. What can we expect from ‘Snowflake’? A real exploration into the love between a father and his daughter, and all the beauty, pain and complications that can come with it. Christmas time means many different things to people, and this play does a gorgeous job of exploring all of them; from family, joy and celebration, to home truths, arguments and pain. If we get it right, you can expected to laugh a lot, recognise a lot, and maybe shed a tear or ten.

What was it that made you want to be involved with this production? When I read the script I could just really hear and see the characters living and breathing. Mike’s managed to capture the huge complexities of being a young person in this country in 2019. He’s also created the amazing character of Andy, the father in the play, who has such a profound journey that is utterly captivating and original. The play is just so true of heart. I’ve also never done something set today and that happens in real time. We talk about things that are actively happening and dividing families across the country right now, which is going make for really electric feeling on stage. You know these people, and you are these people. It’s brilliant.

How does it feel to be part of this production at the Kiln Theatre? This is the first time I’ve worked at the Kiln. It’s got a really fresh and current feeling about it, and I think it attracts a really diverse audience which is important to me. The cast and crew is a wonderfully diverse group of people in all aspects, which makes for a completely brilliant atmosphere to be creative. Everyone’s voice and life experience is so different and will bring something unique and special to the show.

What did you first make of the play when you first read it?I thought it was a vital story for a vital moment in British culture and history. I’ve never seen people of my generation discuss politics with such passion and rage than in the last few years. The country is in complete uproar. Can we have these conversations without becoming infuriated with the opposite side, whatever that may be to you? Is it possible to listen and understand without dismissing and belittling each others beliefs? Can we agree to disagree? Can our most cherished relationships hold when people feel so differently nowadays about so many things; politics, immigration, identity, sexuality, climate change, religion, social media and mental heath etc. This play asks these questions of the characters themselves and of the people coming to watch it. And that makes for a thrilling read, and will make for a thrilling night at the theatre.

Could you tell me more about your character Natalie? Natalie is a profoundly real representation of what is it is to be a modern young Brit. She’s multi-cultured, fiercely witty, outspoken, passionate, curious, strong and intelligent. A great deal matters to her. She turns up and turns Andy’s evening completely upside down. What happens when a white, middle class male and bi racial working class woman are stuck together in a room and get caught up in a conversation about love, Boris Johnson or Brexit? How the hell do they connect? I think the answer is: in all the ways you won’t expect.

What are you most looking forward to about bringing this story to the Kiln Theatre? Honestly? I am fascinated to see what happens when we do this play on election night. Both the actors and the audience will be bringing that energy into the theatre with them. Ooo there’s gonna be fire.

Why should people come along and see the show? It’s gloriously funny, moving and incredibly relatable. It captures the spirit of Christmas is such a unique and unexpected way. Most importantly, it’s set right now – and ‘right now’ is an intensely exciting, albeit terrifying, place to be this year.

By Emma Clarendon

Snowflake will play at the Kiln Theatre from the 10th December until the 25th January.

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