Introducing. . .
Cast and Co-producer
We're immensley excited to be working with Amy Molloy on Tea Set. Amy's an exeptionally talented actress and generous collaborator who's quickly making a name for herself as an actress on the rise.
Appearing in film adaptation of John Banvilles THE SEA this year, with Rufus Sewell and Ciarán Hinds and Yann Demange's acclaimed thriller 71. Recently, you'd recognize her from BBC's CALL THE MIDWIFE, series 3 episode 6, as Phoebe Doyle.
Since graduating from Mountview, Amy debuted in NYC with the Abbey theatre's production of 'John Gabriel Borkman' at BAM Harvey theatre, with Alan Rickman and Fiona Shaw as the estranged Borkmans. She has toured Ireland extensively with the award-winning Druid Theatre and performed in Joseph O'Connor's adaptation of Du Mauriers 'My Cousin Rachel' at Dublin's Gate Theatre. She played a gun-toting teen in McDonaghs 'Lieutenant of Inishmore' for Curve Theatre and had the privilege to perform 'Over the Bridge' one last time for Jimmy Ellis at London's Finborough theatre. Belfast's innovative PrimeCut Productions continues to champion Amy, most recently casting her as Colorina in 'Tejas Verdes' and Alejandra in 'Villa' in their stunning Trilogy of plays that dramatized Chile's attempt to recover following Augusto Pinochet's torturous regime.
Our AD Sharon Willems sat down with Amy to learn a bit more about what inspired Amy to get Tea Set produced and why Gina's play continues to resonate so deeply for her.
How did you get involved with theatre?
From a young age I've always read vociferously and taken in old movies with my Granny, such as Fred Astaire classics or I'd sit up late watching films I was too young for. I use to make up elaborate imaginative adventures for me and my cousin Noel, that we would improvise as we went along, for hours. Or we would write plays for family parties and I'd rope everyone else into it. We used to make up ghost stories as kids and ask Granda to "tell us a story from your mouth" which meant not from a book- he created some fantastic comedy horror classics! The oral tradition was always strong in our family. I just loved to hear about people and what they had come through and why, I was an incredibly nosey child!
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work thus far?
Probably my old Belfast teacher Gwyneth. She set me on the path to truly professional acting. I never thought it a possibility till I met her, but I'm very glad I did. I still call her for advice today. My dear friend Helen printed out all the drama school info for me one day and told me "do it"!! Such a wonderful gesture. My Mum and Granny were the same. It's like everyone knew before me. So basically my biggest influences on my work are my family and close friends because they have unwavering faith in me and keep me going.
Professionally- I've always admired women like Julie Walters, she is a childhood hero of mine, Judi Dench, Lindsay Duncan, Fiona Shaw, Helen Mirren- well I could go on forever and still leave people out!! But the longevity of their careers and the intelligence of their performances, the richness of their work is inspiring. And they are truly sexy older women who don't perpetuate our unhealthy obsession for youth and the "un-ageing".
But I'm inspired constantly by people I work with on a daily basis in the acting world and otherwise- especially otherwise. Reality and being present is always the biggest influence to my work.
Tell us about your thoughts when you read Tea Set for the first time.
The first time I read Tea Set, I remember being utterly engrossed by Gina's language. I related to the piece totally yet it was still mysterious and playful. I lost my paternal Grandmother on Christmas Eve last year. She was like another Mum to me and, I felt, was largely ignored and marginalised by her doctors as her illness progressed. Much like Mrs A, she was increasingly overlooked by the world around her.
l feel very strongly about improving care of the elderly and achieving better approaches to dealing with depression and mental health. As a society we tend to value youth and perfection above all else these days and it has some terrible consequences.
Tea Set is a one-woman show. Is this your first solo production? Has this affected your process creating the character?
Yes it is my first. You are alone with most of your usual self doubts, worrying if you will crack the code so to speak, get it 'right' or remember all the lines. But instead of having fellow actors to have a collective moan with, you are alone, so it fuels all those insecurities. And so in some ways it has affected my process. I had to remember that I need to feel free to think it out, feel it out, with gaping pauses initially, because there's no one to play off except your own imagination really, until you have your audience of course.
I record lines and listen back then re record- I like to listen to the potential rhythm of the piece so I can hear where there is discord and harmony, like a piece of music. And the words begin to go in by osmosis.
I think about the lives of all characters involved, in as much detail as possible and I write a bit. I like to have strong visual images, in my minds eye, off the whole world of the story.
Do you have any dream roles you'd love to play?
I would love to play a great Shakespearean woman- I've always been drawn to Lady Constance in the Life and Death of King John. Or Lady Macbeth. Fiona Shaw told me I must play Juliet, after doing Shakespeare workshops with her- but I'm afraid I'm probably getting on a bit for Juliet, haha.
I have a fantasy of one day playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret like the great Dame Judi Dench or Natasha Richardson. I love the black humour in that play and the wonderful music.
Other than that I would say my dream roles are complex, engaging, three-dimensional women.
What about acting do you enjoy the most?
Telling stories is number one. Escaping into another small slice of humanity. And learning about and connecting with others. These all drive me and make me feel alive when I am working.
For example when I did the Chilean Trilogy of plays for Belfasts Prime Cut Productions, we explored the questions of how a divided country moves forward from conflict. We had a specialist Dr Cath Collins who had dedicated her life to Chile and the Villa Grimaldi survivors and knew many of them personally. She brought us back a beautiful tapestry square that the victims of the Pinochet regime had made to thank us for telling their story. She then returned to Chile with a 'visitors book' for them, that cast and audience members had written in about how the production had affected them. That kind of human connection, empathy and learning is what I love about this job.
How have you found the transition from performer to producer? Do you have any advice for actors who are interested in producing their own work?
It is so exciting when you throw out a few little lines off communication and curiosity and see what comes back. Suddenly you get all these fantastically creative and enthusiastic people helping you build something. It is amazing what theatre makers have to and, spectacularly, can do, without a dime of funding. It is brute faith and determination. And so I've learnt just how much it takes to make a great show, especially when people are holding down more than one job. Collaboration, trust and faith are all key, treasure the work you make and know what you want to say.
What’s next up for you?
I'm excited there will be more Tea Set coming up in January at the Barons Court theatre. The space is going to work so well with the play, and I'm really glad we'll have more time to explore Gina's brilliant script. We're also talking about a small tour of theatres and festivals in Ireland and beyond, so you never know. Beyond Tea Set, I'll be auditioning for the Abbey theatre and BBC in the coming weeks and enjoying some Art tutoring jobs along with a little special needs school assisting.