Directed by Theatre503's artistic director, Tim Roseman, the play is the second play commissioned from 503Five, Theatre503’s group of previously unproduced playwrights selected from over two hundred of the country's most exciting new voices for a year long residency with the theatre.
Jessie has been working with a cast which includes John Michie, Taggart's the much-loved lead DI; Irish standup comedian Deirdre O'Kane; recent star of Troilus and Cressida at Shakespeare's Globe, Paul Stocker and Tom Reed, whose recent theatre credits include East is East for Birmingham Rep and The History Boys at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre Royal, Bath.
What attracted you to the play?
I read an early draft of Breed, and for the first time ever I got goosebumps as I reached the end of the play, and before I knew it had read it in one go. I was sure I would not get the part and so decided to go to the audition dressed and speaking as I thought Liv - my character - would. It was thrilling enough just to audition, and immediately was drawn to Tim Roseman, the director. So to get the part is absolutely liberating and remarkable to me. Having now met and spent time with Lou Ramsden, who I think is already and going to be an important playwright - I could not be happier right now.
Dog fighting is a very dark subject, how has it affected you?
I knew next to nothing about dogfighting - and needless to say the research I have done has left me dumbstruck and horrified. It is a subject matter which should be known about so that it can be curbed, urgently.
There are dogs on stage in the script how difficult has that been to perform?
The physicality of being on a stage with pretend dogs has been a learning experience, and the prospect was intimidating at first - but now the dogs feel 100% present at all times - they are always looming.
Do you enjoy theatre more than film and how is your character different from those that you've played before?
I think I would be happy doing theatre and only theatre forever, my dream is to act at venues like the National and the Barbican, but I do love both theatre and film/tv in very different ways. It is definitely unnatural to act in short disjointed and out of sequence spurts when filming, but at the same time I enjoy the little breaks! Theatre is so immediate and intimate, and the absolute terror/excitement is electric and addictive. I also like the social aspect of theatre, sharing the experience with people. Filming Harry Potter was incredibly surreal, because the cameras and crew and sets and stars were gigantic. I played Lavender Brown, who was largely a comical part, and therefore could not be further from Liv in Breed at all!
How do you find it working at Theatre503 where the space is so intimate?
Theatre503 is such a lovely theatre, and I am so lucky to be able to act in such an intimate space, with the audience so close - I cannot wait! It will be great not to worry about projecting so much, and acting 'big', and like I said before the whole creative team lead by Tim Roseman are just fantastic and very welcoming.
There is a great cast in Breed, what is it like working with Deirdre O'Kane, John Michie and Paul Stocker?
Deirdre O'Kane has made me laugh more than I ever have in my life, and John Michie has been educating me about how to stop 'corpsing' - believe it or not, the rehearsal process has involved a lot of laughter and fun despite the traumatic subject matter! I am very proud to be part of this cast, Paul Stocker is an incredible talent and everyone has been so forthcoming.
Any future plans, stage or screen?
I finished filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows earlier this year, which will come out in two instalments in November and next July. I also appear in a new BBC sitcom called Sadie Jones, which is released later this year.
Breed runs at Theatre503 from 23 September to 16 October 2010 (previews from 21 September).