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20 Questions with... Springs Eternal's Julia Hills

Julia Hills is about to star in Susan Glaspell's 1943 play Springs Eternal at the Orange Tree Theatre, which opens on Friday. Forming part of artistic director Sam Walter's final season, it runs until 19 October. Hill's TV credits include 2 Point 4 Children and her stage credits include King Lear, The Glass Menagerie and Calendar Girls

By • London
Julia Hills in rehearsal for Springs Eternal
Julia Hills in rehearsal for Springs Eternal

Where were you born?
I was born in Nottingham.

What made you want to become an actor?
I decided I wanted to act on a seaside holiday in Scarborough after watching Ayckbourn's Absent Friends at The Stephen Joseph Theatre.

If you hadn't become an actor, what might you have done professionally?
I always made my family play at being my pupils in my school when I was a child, so I might have gone in for teaching... or World Domination?

First big break?
Trembling Tree in one of Berwick Kaler's first pantomimes at York Theatre Royal.

Career highlights to date?
Most recently playing Madame Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard, Goneril in King Lear and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie within six months.

Favourite co-stars?
Always the people I'm working with at the moment! I did make some close friends whilst working on Calendar Girls.

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
My Fair Lady at Drury Lane. And a local amateur production of Annie Get Your Gun featuring Russell Grant.

And the last?
My son in his West End debut in Loserville.

What drew you to Springs Eternal?
I wanted to work with Sam Walters again after having had such a brilliant time working at the Orange Tree Theatre, upstairs in the pub, back in the late 1980s. Dealing With Clair by Martin Crimp still remains one of my favourite productions and plays ever.

What's it like performing in a world premiere of a play written 70 years ago?
It's always great working on fresh and new material even if it was written 70 years ago. It's so exciting to know that you are the first group of people trying to solve the problems of the piece and make the choices and there's no pressure of knowing that you may be compared to other productions or performances!

Are there any similarities between you and your character?
I think it's inevitable that your interpretation of a character becomes an interpretation of yourself.

Do you think the play has a take-home message?
Every generation has something to learn from the previous one and from the next one to come.

Are you enjoying being back at the Orange Tree?
Yes – very much.

How does it feel working on Sam Walters' final season at the theatre?
It's very special – a real privilege.

What's your favourite post-show hang out?
I used to go to The Koha Bar when I was playing at the Noel Coward Theatre.

How do you unwind?
I like to go running - it's my therapy.

If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
A surgeon, to find out what's it like to know you can save and improve lives.

Who's your acting idol?
I really admire Marcia Warren – she has masterful timing, and always offers an intelligent & complex performance. Also, I met her recently and she was lovely.

Favourite film?
Favourite film has to still be Galaxy Quest – so funny!

What's next?
I'd love to do something in a period costume – any period – so Doctor Who would be fun!

Springs Eternal runs at the Orange Tree Theatre from 11 September to 19 October

Tags: Orange Tree TheatreSprings Eternal


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