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Nottingham Playhouse exclusive: an interview with Alex Kingston

Alex Kingston – Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton

Nottingham Playhouse has released a special episode of its podcast, Nottingham Playcast, featuring Artistic Director Adam Penford in conversation with award-winning actress Alex Kingston.

The interview, which took place as part of an exclusive event for the theatre’s Playhouse Pass membership scheme, covered a variety of topics ranging from her training at RADA, her early career in regional theatre, as well as her time acting in Moll Flanders, ER and Doctor Who.

It also explores her latest role in An Enemy of the People – Nottingham Playhouse’s latest production. The play is a timely new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic, which explores the vulnerability of whistle-blowers and corruption of power. When Dr Stockmann discovers her town’s famous spa waters are poisoned, she presumes she’ll be treated as a hero but instead she’s accused by the mayor of threatening the town’s livelihood.

Aesthetically the production will draw upon Nordic Noir, and Danish composer Frans Bak – who is known for writing the score for The Killing and the BBC’s Doctor Foster – will be composing the music for the play.

The full interview is now available to members of the public via Nottingham Playcast (on Apple Podcasts and Spotify). The podcast also coincides with the release of new rehearsal pictures, which can be downloaded here, alongside the production trailer.

Alex Kingston will take to the stage as Dr Stockmann on Friday 13 September, with performances running until Saturday 28 September. Tickets are still available: nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/drama/an-enemy-of-the-people.

Interview Highlights

On stage vs screen: “I don’t care what medium it is that I’m working in, the character is the thing that fires me… I became an actress because I thought all I’d ever do is theatre. Way back then we wouldn’t even imagine that we would do film, let alone television.”

As a child Kingston considered many careers – from air stewardess to barrister. She says: “It wasn’t about the job, it was about the costume.” A German uncle – also an actor – predicted from an early age that she would become an actress and “play queens and doctors” – which proved to be the case.

When discussing the first decade of her career: “I spent ten years in regional theatre. That was kind of my apprenticeship. I left RADA thinking I knew it all, but it was only when I went from regional theatre to regional theatre… that is where you learn your craft.”

Reflecting on her time in ER, she explained that she was offered the role after Moll Flanders had aired. Interestingly, her character was called Dr Corday because she was due to play Charlotte Corday in the National Theatre’s production of Marat/Sade. It was a role she turned down in favour of the medical drama.

On ending her time as ER’s Dr Corday: “It wasn’t acrimonious at all. We sat and had a meeting with the producer, John Wells. We sat in his office, and we all cried. I loved it so much, I didn’t want it to end – they didn’t want it to end. But we all agreed that they didn’t know what to do with my character anymore.”

Reflecting on her character River Song in Doctor Who, and why so many women identify with the character she says: “She has heart and has loyalty. She’s brave, she’s strong, and she’s badass. She’s got complexities, she’s got flaws. Which, we all have as human beings.”

Kingston’s role in An Enemy of the People, Dr Stockmann, was originally written as a male character but Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation reimagines Stockmann as a woman. Kingston explains: “The fascinating thing is that in rehearsals, sometimes I sort of imagine if one of these characters would be talking to the character of Dr Stockmann as was written – as a man – we would have a different reaction or a different feeling to those words or that energy than when it’s being directed to a woman.”

More information

Nottingham Playcast has been aired digitally since March 2018, with previous guests including Sting, director Bill Buckhurst, actress Denise Black and award-winning theatre designer Morgan Large. Released monthly it offers exclusive insights to the creativity behind the Nottingham Playhouse’s latest and most daring ventures. It can be subscribed to for free on iTunes and Spotify.

Playhouse Pass is Nottingham Playhouse’s membership scheme, which offers exclusive events, priority booking and ticket discounts for in-house productions and other special benefits. More information can be found at: nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/membership.