Leading the cast in Charlotte Keatley's 'My Mother Said I Never Should', Olivier Award-winning actress Katie Brayben speaks to Female First all about the production, pressures on actors in the industry and much more in a brand new and exclusive interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about My Mother Said I Never Should for those who aren't familiar, and who you'll be playing?
It's a multi-themed, extraordinarily observed play from the pen of the equally extraordinary Charlotte Keatley. Each time you discover a layer there are more underneath. It's kind of like cleaning out a wardrobe and finding the family secret.
It's a play that exposes mother/daughter relationships across a century. I play Jackie who grows up in the 60s and 70s, in a very different environment to her mother and grandmother. Her widening opportunities in terms of educating and work means she has to make some tough choices that have huge affects on her family.
With this being the first London revival in 25 years of the classic, do you feel an increased amount of pressure?
I think pressure is something we do to ourselves, it's just awful! I try to find some enjoyment in the fear and the unknown, but of course there is always that pressure underneath it all. I'm really enjoying exploring the themes and relationships of the play. It's a wonderful experience to be in the room discussing and dissecting the play with a bunch of cool people, so I'm focusing on that right now.
Why do you think the relationships between mothers and daughters is something that resonates with so many people?
I think most people have experienced the power play, subtext in conversation, the joy and the anger, and even resentment of a parent/child relationship. The relationships between mother and daughter are a delicate bond of complex wants and expectations. There is a line in the play that says; 'you do what's best for your daughter, and you find out it's not what she wanted, or needed.' Between saying what we want and the squash of social conformity is this elaborate side-stepping and mis-communication of what you actually feel to the people you love the most.
You've got such an established career on the stage - can you tell us a little bit about how and when you fell in love with performing?
I feel grateful every day I work in theatre. I fell in love with drama really. Mostly from watching too much telly. I never really went to the theatre when I was a kid. As I got older and got the opportunity to go, I think it was the thrill of real live people telling the story that I loved the most. There's something so vulnerable and exposing about it. I was drawn to that. I think you have to be a little unhinged to want to do it!
You've also worked in television and short films, so how do all of these mediums differentiate?
You work in such a different way. In some ways you can't compare them. I love working in each medium because they throw up different challenges. I like the variety of work you can get if you're lucky enough. There is usually a longer rehearsal period with a play, so you get to really explore the text. But I also love the immediacy of TV, you do a scene once or a few times and then you move on. I always think, 'damn, give me two weeks and I could have done that better!'
What advice do you have for those starting out in this world and chasing a career on the stage?
Go and see theatre, read books, read the papers, keep a healthy interest in what goes on around you. Actors generally have inquisitive minds. Know what you want to do. Know what kind of work you want to make. There aren't that many choices for an actor but you want to be ready when the opportunity comes, or it may pass you by.
What have been some of your biggest career highlights to-date?
For me it's always the work I'm involved with from the start, so American Psycho and King Charles III. I've always loved Rupert Goold's productions so it was wonderful to get to work with him on both those projects. Playing one of my idols Carole King last year and winning the Olivier for it, is still something I can't quite put into words. I'll never come down from that.
Similarly what have been some of your biggest challenges in the industry?
Just keeping going sometimes. Staying positive when you get the knock backs. People say actors have big egos but the truth is most of us are either chipping away at them or trying to cultivate one so as to survive the blows. You have to be resilient and vulnerable. A tough combination.
Finally do you have anything else in the pipeline you can share some details about?
There are a few possibilities, but the future is unknown as always - I love that.
'My Mother Said I Never Should' will run at St James Theatre from April 13 to May 21.