|Clare Foster in rehearsal at The Octagon|
Brief Encounter With … Clare Foster
Date: 3 September 2010
Clare Foster is perhaps best known for starring in hit West End show Avenue Q. She also starred in ITV1's The Bill as popular character, PC Millie Brown. She is about to tread the boards at The Octagon Theatre in Bolton - in two classics; A Streetcar Named Desire and Love On The Dole. We caught up with her during rehearsals for Streetcar.
What attracted you to The Octagon, as you are starring in not one, but two classics in their new Season?
There were numerous things that attracted me here. The first was to work with David Thacker, who’s work I had seen a lot of last season and loved. He brought a truth and openness to his productions that I really admired and I knew I would learn a lot from him. The other reason was, of course, the roles.
Blanche DuBois is an iconic and complex role to take on. Have you avoided looking at different actresses in the role?
I have never seen a production of it on stage and though I was bought the movie I have deliberately not watched it. It’s an important part of the process for me to take my own opinions and impressions from the writer’s initial script and read into what I feel and relate to. That’s why we became actors – to give our own interpretation.
What is that you like, as an actor about Tennesee Williams' writing?
He’s actually one of my favourite playwrights. I think he expressed such poetry and heart in his dialogue but from a very real, heartfelt place that therefore represents a real truth and connection with the audience. His writing is from the soul, for me, and has an incredible complexity and understanding of his characters.
What's the most challenging aspect of Streetcar for you?
Ha! Right now it’s learning the lines! There are so many! Once the show is up and going it’ll be finding the emotional energy every night I think, without feeling the need to deliver anything specific in each moment. David and I have already discussed the need to feel each performance in its own right and be true to each moment without forcing anything.
You starred in The Bill which must have been fun. But we never saw an exit storyline - many of your face book fans were keen for Mille's departure to be marked in some way. What happened?
Ha ha! I get asked that a lot! The truth is, when I decided to leave there were so many other characters exiting the show that there really was, of course, no room for all of us to have big leading stories. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly as I loved playing Millie and particularly loved the storylines they were developing between Millie and Max which were very exciting and tempting. I have always, however, tried to move on when I’ve felt the time was right and not make decisions based on fear. I think that while I’m young enough and without responsibilities it’s important for me as a person and an actress to welcome new adventures – life’s too short and I want to soak up every opportunity! Plus – you’ve got to be out of work to be in it, right?!
You also gained a following in the hit West End show Avenue Q. Why do you think that show was popular with so many people?
Because it’s brilliant! It has such a clever book and fantastic music. It’s also wonderfully structured and thought out, and superbly directed frankly. The novelty factor is of course the concept but it has so much heart to it which is what I think people connected with.
Did you enjoy the training for the show or was it tough?
It was tough but we were also very aware of just how special the show was. It was very evident that we were part of something extraordinary and I think we embraced that and cherished it as the blessing it was to all of us. It was a very special and incredible rehearsal process actually and we bonded wonderfully because of that, which made for an amazing year.
One of the reasons that Q lasted so long was the competitive pricing. Do you think the West End should be cheaper?
I’m always up for anything that can make theatre more appealing and accessible to people so I would say yes ordinarily, but I’m also aware from a producers perspective of how hard it is to make a success of a show. It’s a tough call. With a show like Avenue Q, with a basic set and fewer cast members, I think it was more feasible than most shows.
Following Streetcar, you take on Love On The Dole at The Octagon. Can you tell us a bit about the play and your character?
It’s a play that is still so relevant as it tackles the affects that poverty can have on young love and life in general and how one can really be worn down by the constant struggle of trying to stay afloat. I play a young girl called Sally Hardcastle who is affected by this in the most horrific way and is changed as a person because of it.
Both of these plays are classics. In your opinion how does each one appeal to contemporary audiences?
For me, as you hear me talk about a lot, it’s all about the heart of the piece. I think any piece of theatre that has truth and soul to it can relate to people because essentially love and personal relationships are the only constant. David has a knack of choosing writing that offers these qualities and therefore audiences can connect with.
What are your plans following your turns at the Octagon?
Well I’m here until November so no plans as yet other than Christmas! I’ll keep you posted!
Clare Foster was speaking to Glenn Meads
A Streetcar Named Desire runs at the Octagon from 16 September - 9 October. Love On The Dole runs from 14 October - 6 November. For more details, please visit the Octagon website.
Subscribe to our free newsletter