20 Questions With...Megan Dodds
Date: 4 July 2005
Actress Megan Dodds, currently starring in Neil Labuteís darkly comic drama, This is How it Goes, talks about small town America and how Alan Rickman inspired her performances of her one woman show My Name is Rachel Corr
Since making her West End debut in 1997 as Brook Daniels in Popcorn (a play adapted from Ben Eltonís novel of the same title), actress Megan Dodds, best known for her film and television roles, has appeared in numerous plays, including a production of Shakespeareís most popular tragedy, Hamlet, in which she played Ophelia, at the Young Vic.
She has also completed her first one woman show, My Name is Rachel Corrie, a true story about a 23 year old woman who left her comfortable American life to stand between a bulldozer and a Palestinian home. The play, directed by [Alan Rickman, who is better known for his acting work, garnered critical acclaim and is due to be repeated at the Royal Courtís Jerwood Theatre.
Dodds recently appeared on British screens as CIA liaison officer Christine Dale in BBC spy drama , and her numerous film credits include The Rat Pack, Urban Folk Tales and Ever After: A Cinderella Story
This is How it Goes is playing at the Donmar Warehouse until 9 July, before touring to Salfordís Lowry Theatre and Bristol Old Vic.
Set in small-town America, Labuteís explosive play puts race and infidelity under the microscope by dissecting an inter-racial love triangle and questioning the audienceís notions of truth. Dodds stars alongside Ben Chaplin and Idris Elba in This is How it Goes, the second LaBute premier to open in London this summer after Some Girls opened at the Gielgud last month, featuring Friends star David Schwimmer. This is How it Goes is directed by Moises Kaufman.
Date and place of birth? What first brought you to London?
I was born on 15 February 1970, in California. I came over to do Popcorn in the West End in 1997, and Iíve been in London pretty much ever since.
What do you consider to have been your first big break?
Getting into drama school was a really big deal to me at the time. I went to Julliard and it was great to be meeting so many new people. It was a good training ground. I have stayed friends with many of the people I met there. It was a fantastic experience to be in New York and I see that as the start of my career.
What do you consider your career highlights to date?
My Name is Rachel Corrie is definitely my career highlight. It was a new thing for me to do a one woman show, and something I hadnít really considered before, but it was amazing and I am so glad that it has gone so well.
Favourite productions youíve ever worked on & why?
I always have a good time with whatever I do really, so I canít think of any specific productions because I have enjoyed almost all of them. I think I have been very fortunate in that there have been very few that I havenít been happy with.
Favourite co-stars & why?
This is a difficult one- I always seem to be most in love with and enthusiastic about the production I am working on at the moment! I really do think the guys in This is How it Goes are wonderful, we are having a fantastic time. Ben Chaplin and Idris Elba are wonderful and we are getting along really well.
Favourite directors & why?
Alan Rickman is my favourite director for what he has done with Rachel Corrie. He really inspired me and made me think Ďyes, I can do thisí. Other than him, the same applies with directors as it does with cast members. I love the people I am working with at the time!
What roles would you most like to play that you havenít yet had a chance to?
I donít have anything specifically in mind that I particularly want to do, but my experience with Rachel Corrie has made me decide I definitely want to do more plays (as opposed to film). The reaction you get from a live audience is just incredible. Rachel Corrie was very intimate and being aware of the audienceís reaction was very moving and intense.
What's the best thing you've seen on stage recently & what was so great about it?
Primo with Antony Sher at the RNT Cottesloe. When I saw it, I was worrying about whether or not I could do Rachel Corrie and it was a great boost. It was so reassuring to see that a much wider issue (in Primo, the Holocaust) could be adapted into a very moving story of one personís life, which is what we were trying to do with Rachel Corrie< /i>.
To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite. It is so well written and it is a classic.
Favourite holiday destinations
Tuscany is very hard to beat, I really love it there. I also enjoy it when I go home, back to the States. Last summer a group of us friends went to Conneticut and we all brought our babies with us and it was such a relaxed, fun holiday.
Favourite after-show haunts
We normally seem to end up just closing the theatre bar because we have friends coming to see us every so often and they stay to chat. It is a great way to get to know the theatre youíre in even better!
What made you want to accept your part in This is How it Goes?
I really like the play, I thought it was really provocative and interesting for a woman to be doing the kinds of things my character (Woman) does and I just thought the script was great and I am enjoying doing theatre at the moment, so I was glad to accept the part.
How did you research the role of Woman?
I just thought really hard about the play and the type of situations she gets into. She could turn out to be a big victim and I didnít want to play her like that.
Do you identify with the role in any way?
I had that same kind of small town experience when I grew up so I know how it feels to live in that kind of community.
What do you like the most about This is How it Goes?
It gets you to question your own ideas about life, about issues the play deals with, and everything really. The characters are engaging and the audience really gets drawn into their stories.
My Name is Rachel Corrie has been very successful. How did it initially come about?
Alan (Rickman) approached me with the idea a couple of years ago and, being a true story, the material wasnít made available to us until the family was ready to release it. But then we spent a lot of time looking at all the information we could lay our hands on to build up a picture of the life of this amazing woman.
Are you looking forward to reprising your role as Rachel?
Yes, definitely, it is the most fantastically written play and I enjoyed it so much the first time round!
How would you describe My Name is Rachel Corrie
It is all about growing up and the things that happen to her during her everyday life as well as in the more extraordinary part of her life. I think that is why it works so well, because it is so human and so personal. It shows that during all sorts of conflicts and major events, peopleís lives still go on. They still have their own little dramas, as well as the big ones, to contend with.
Why do you think the play was such a hit with audiences?
It is just so moving and it really affects people. It is about one girlís really human story and there are a lot of issues in there that make it really vibrant and also heartbreaking.
What are your future plans? Anything else youíd like to add?
I am going to be in a film called The Contract starring Morgan Freeman, so that is my next project straight after This is How it Goes, and then after that I am doing Rachel Corrie again, which will be absolutely wonderful.