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Interview with Charlie Blackwood

Charlie Blackwood
Charlie Blackwood

Charlie Blackwood is a talented young actress who is passionate about film, television and theatre.

I love that as an actor you are able to cultivate and mould different parts of yourself, in different degrees of intensity, to really explore and create characters.

Charlie made her professional stage debut in Timon of Athens at The National Theatre, and her screen roles include appearing in Great Expectations (TV Mini-Series). Later this year she will be doing the Film Festival circuit.

Charlie enjoys working with new writing and is about to star as Sarah, in The Five Stages of Waiting at Tristan Bates Theatre.

I chatted with Charlie earlier this week, and what a delightful young actress she is. This is what she had to say.

Who inspired you to want to be an actress?
I can remember being completely obsessed with films when I was little, and I would be glued to the television screen watching every film that I could. As I grew older I had memorised roles and lines from many films. In terms of who inspired me I would probably say Cate Blanchett. I particularly admire how bold and brave her performances are. I watched her in the play Big and Small at the Barbican, and was blown away by her performance. I think that she is an exceptional actress, on stage and screen.

You studied at the London Studio Centre graduating with a BA (Hons) in Dance; and then at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, with a BA (Hons) in Acting. Can you tell us about a memorable moment or two?
At the London Studio Centre I played the part of Vera in the play Stepping Out, and at that time, that was the biggest role I had played. I absolutely loved creating that character, and enjoyed having the freedom to have fun and play around to try and bring things out. For me that was a huge turning point in my career, and I realised that acting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

At Mountview I have many memorable moments, but probably the one that stands out is playing Goneril in King Lear. Through help from my acting teacher I found a huge strength and power in Goneril, which is something that had always been in me, but I had never really explored it. I love that as an actor you are able to cultivate and mould different parts of yourself, in different degrees of intensity, to really explore and create characters. That for me was a real lesson.

A slight change of direction in your studies. What prompted this change, and what are you aiming for in your career?
It was my first year at London Studio Centre when I started doing more acting that I thought yes this is what I want to do. I grew up in Cornwall before I moved to London, and there were lots of dance classes but not the opportunity to attend acting classes. It was only when I moved to London and got the chance to do some acting that I thought wow this is what I want to do. I was encouraged to stay and complete the dance course at the Studio Centre, which I did.

Two weeks after graduating, you started rehearsals for your first professional role at The National Theatre in Timon of Athens. What can you recall from your first performance and your time there?
There was a pre-show presentation at Timon of Athens, and I remember at that very first show I got a sense of it all becoming very real. It was also a dream come true for me to perform on the Olivier stage. That was amazing. Also interacting with Simon Russell Beale was incredible. It was also a tremendous cast to be working with. There was a huge wealth of experience which I could just feed off, either in the rehearsal room or on stage. I will never forget that first bow, with a standing ovation at the National Theatre. For my first professional job that really was a magical moment.

You have appeared in several screen roles, including the classic Great Expectations TV Mini-Series. What did you enjoy most about being a part of that production?
I think it is one of the greatest stories ever written, so to be a part of that production was really exciting. Also, portraying women in a time of formality and restriction was very interesting to me. Period drama is something I’m drawn to and am told suits me so I’d like to do more within this genre.

You have performed at The Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Greenwich Theatre and other venues. Which has been your favourite performance to date and why?
On stage, The National Theatre has definitely got to be up there, as that was incredible. On screen, recently I have completed a short film called A&E, which I am really proud of and is going to several film festivals later this year.

Do you have a favourite venue or theatre, either that you have performed in or would like to?
As well as the Olivier Theatre, I would love to work at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. I went there last year and have always been drawn to there. I would also love to work at the Royal Court Theatre, as that is a fantastic venue.

Screen and stage, what do you enjoy about each? And do you have a preference?
I don’t have a preference. I love the stage as a linear performance, where you can take your character through an emotional journey right to the end. I also like how a performance can mould and shift itself throughout a run.
On screen I love the spontaneity, and because there is very little rehearsal time, I feel it is very much playing off your screen partner, experimenting and creating in the moment, which is fun.

You are in the cast of The Five Stages of Waiting, at Tristan Bates Theatre. What excites you most to be a part of this production?
The writer Caro Dixey has created a fantastic set of characters, and she has found so much comedy in what could have been an overwhelmingly dark story. She has a great ear for bringing the tension, and complicated relationships in a family, to the page. That is very exciting, to bring that to real life for an audience to see. I think many people will see their own families in the writing.

What can you tell us about the Vertical Line Theatre Company?
The Vertical Line was set up by Henry Regan, who is one of my good friends who also trained at Mountview. He works with developing a lot of new writing, and I have been involved with this play through that process.

What can you tell us about your character and how she fits into the storyline, without giving too much away?
I play the part of Sarah, who is the oldest of three sisters, the other two being twins. Sarah is the one who is trying to keep the calm in the chaos. She is a mother herself, so she is simultaneously trying to keep her family running as well as balancing her sisters and their varying states of panic and grief, and things like that. She is trying to remain positive for the sake of everyone else, but there is only so much she can take before her own cracks start to show.

Why should everyone get along to see The Five Stages of Waiting?
The play is a moving portrayal of a family in crisis, and it manages to find comedy in the strangest of places, mainly the hospital waiting room. It is a fantastic piece of new writing from a vibrant up and coming team. If rehearsals are anything to go by, then you don’t want to miss it!

Away from acting, what do you like to do to chill out?
I like to go to the cinema. As well as that, at the moment I am learning to horse ride, which has been an interesting challenge. I have recently started to paint, although I am not very good at it, it is nice to just let go and relax. It is very abstract!

What plans do you have for the rest of 2014?
I went to L.A. at the beginning of the year and I would like to go back there again this year, which is in the pipeline. I am looking forward to going to some film festivals with A&E. I have also got a short-film shoot coming up in September, and other than that to wait and see what the rest of the year brings.

Interview questions by Neil Cheesman

You can follow Charlie Blackwood on Twitter @CharliBlackwood
Official website at www.charlieblackwood.com

The Five Stages of Waiting is presented by Vertical Line Theatre in association with Greenwich Theatre, as part of the 2014 Camden Fringe Festival at the Tristan Bates Theatre from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th August 2014.


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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