Youth theatre Playbox’s acclaimed Shakespeare Young Company are putting on a production of All’s Well That Ends Well from tonight through Saturday.
Here Priya Edwards, who plays Helena, shares her thoughts about the production.
Tell us about your latest role?
I’m currently playing Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well at Playbox Theatre. Basically, she is in love with Bertram, who she has grown up with, but she is in a different social class to him so can’t marry him. She then decides – as her Dad was a physician – to cure the King who is dying and as a reward is allowed to choose any husband she likes. I won’t spoil it all but let’s say it doesn’t necessarily go well from there!
What about Helena appeals to a modern young audience?
I think she has this inner strength which is really admirable and she doesn’t let any barriers – her age, class, gender etc – get in her way which is rare in a woman of the time. Although we aren’t setting it in modern day, I think she’s quite a modern woman in her approach in her approach to life which is quite remarkable when you think it was Shakespeare who wrote her!
How does she compare with other roles you’ve played?
The last role I played was the White Queen and the Cheshire Cat so it’s very different to the madness of Alice in Wonderland! Before that I played Belle in Beauty and the Beast which was lovely as she has a similar inner strength to Helena and is sometimes regarded as one of Disney’s first more feminist princesses, and I think that Emma Watson’s revamp is going to make her even stronger which I’m super excited about!
The last Shakespeare I did I played Warwick the Kingmaker and Jack Cade in Games and Thrones which was really fun as there are so many awesome male parts I never thought I’d get a chance at and there I was playing one of the most influential figures of the War of the Roses!
Reflecting the trend in the wider arts landscape, All’s Well follows a policy of gender-blind casting – what do you think this brings to the production?
I think it’s really exciting as you get to see some great performances from people who otherwise would never have that opportunity. The disparity between parts for men and women, especially older women, really needs combatting and I think gender blind casting does redress that balance somewhat (although it’s no excuse to not keep writing new and exciting parts for women!). I think it works wonderfully in Shakespeare as he is writing so beautifully about human experience that’s common to us all regardless of gender.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently on a gap year and am part of the Playbox Resident Ensemble which is the programme for people taking a year out, especially those trying to get into drama school. We do more in-depth training across many areas which is a lot of fun. I’m also looking forward to being in the Ustinov Theatre School production of Gutterhead written by Toby Quash in July. After this, I’m planning to travel a bit before going to read Human, Social and Political Science at Cambridge University!
Directed by Playbox Founding and Executive Director Mary King, this production places the timespan in a France shedding its rainbow rays over Van Gogh visually inspired world. A golden age meets a new world in Shakespeare’s remarkable and moving tale.
The roles of Bertram and Helena are played by Daniel Bainbridge and Priya Edwards with Grace Martin, Noah Lukehurst, Charlie Davis, Mike Watt, Lewis Low, Lynton Appleton, Kitty Brunt, Caitlin Jenkins, Eilidh Evans, Laura Woodhouse, Tess McGoldrick, Dannie Burridge, Paige Cooper, Adam Turner, Will Davies.
Playbox Theatre’s All’s Well That Ends Well is on at the Dream Factory, Warwick, from tonight (Thursday) until Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12.50 (£8 concessions) and available from www.playboxtheatre.com or by phone on 01926 419555.