Leigh Bremridge will star in two one-act plays this month, The Bear and The Proposal at the Galloway Theatre from 16th-25th June. We chatted to her about her experience getting back into South African theatre.
Q1: Tell us a bit more about the play, The Bear and The Proposal.
They are two one-act comedies written by Anton Chekhov and deal with the same theme of men and women and relationships. The inherent differences of opinions and outlooks on the world instilled in both men and women and relationships and all that they may encompass. No matter the era or age or compatibilities of two people, relationships are complex, challenging, confounding but at the end of the day, hopefully liberating for both.
Q2: What role do you play in it?
I play the only female characters in both plays: Tamara Popova in The Bear – a widow who has shut herself off from the world and all her neighbours as she is still mourning the death of her husband, even though it is almost a year after his death and since she has spoken to anyone other than her trusted footman, Luka… until a neighbour – Grigory Smirnov – comes to call to collect a debt owed to him by her late husband. Natalya Stepanovna in The Proposal, a spinster sister to her brother, Stepan, and the farce begins when a neighbour, Ivan Vassilevitch comes to ask for her hand in marriage.
Q3: What drew you to this project?
I have been been wanting to get back on stage for some years now, having been “raised on stage” as it has always been my first love where acting is concerned. The time was right for me to devote myself to such a project and so when I heard about the audition, I did what was requested of everybody else auditioning. I prepared a monologue and auditioned. I also wanted to do a play that involved a small cast and would be a vehicle for me to play a pivotal role in the story. How fortuitous that I am able to play two completely separate and contrasting characters within one production.
Q4: How have you prepared for the role?
It was such an enjoyable experience which I shared with both my two “partners in crime”, Trad Nogueira-Godsey and Matt Roy, plus the director, Sheldon Cross and our producer, Stephan Fourie, who created this wonderful new theatre company, The GingerbreadMan Collective. I prepared basically by reading and re-reading the scripts and really dissecting the characters to understand them better and then to find a way to inhabit both of them as much as possible…finding each stance, walk, accent, breathing…it’s all a matter of just practice, practice, practice. I also worked with Robyn Scott for the accent and dialect for The Proposal. This was such a collaborative piece and the more time we all spent together in rehearsals, the closer we became and the more familiar and “real” the characters became.
Q5: What are you most excited about for this production?
Getting back onto the boards…it is exciting, nerve-wracking, daunting but will be thrilling in the end. I love ensemble work and whether it be dramatic or comedic, theatre is definitely a big love of mine and I have missed it for too long. Also nobody has really seen my acting chops in professional theatre in SA since everybody else is Fucking Perfect (the PANSA award-winning production I was part of when I first moved back to SA), so this is an opportunity to delve back into the art form.
Book for this production here.