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Sarah Miles On ... Staying Well

Sarah Miles has been acting professionally for nearly 50 years, and has worked with greats including Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Noel Coward. She\'s probably best known for her role in David Lean\'s 1970 film Ryan\'s Daughter, for which she won a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination. She\'s currently starring in the UK premiere production of Lisa Kron\'s Well, which runs at the West End\'s Apollo theatre from 30 December 2008 (preview 29 December) to 24 January 2009.

By • West End


Well is about two things; it\'s about allergies and whether they exist or not, and it’s also about integration, about how each one of us should try to be totally integrated as a human being in mind, body and spirit. Most of us are hanging on to a lot of guilt and denial but if you are totally integrated then you have no denial, but most people are not integrated, either in themselves or in society.

The thing that drew me to the play in the first place was my character, Ann Kron, based on the playwright\'s mother. She\'s still alive, in her seventies now, and she\'s a very forward-thinking radical. In her youth she was heavily involved in the integration of blacks and whites in America, and lived in a segregated area of Baltimore with a black roommate – very rare in those days. She was an incredible woman, full of love and spirit, but the problem was that she began to collapse with these mysterious allergies that no-one could get a handle on. A lot of people have health problems and like them, they don’t want them to go away because they act like a crutch for getting through life.

I love working with such a young company. The technique that these younger actors have is so different to what I\'m used to. Television training limits them as they don’t have the voice projection training - your voice is like an instrument, it has octaves and all sorts of lights and shades which on television you\'re not called to use. So in that area, they probably don’t match up so well but in regards to technique and mannerisms and body language, I think they\'re streets ahead. I\'m full of admiration for them, because it\'s a whole new way of working. When people say, “what I am teaching them?”, I say I think it’s more what I\'m learning from them.

I\'m primarily a writer now, which is why I haven’t done any theatre for a long time. I hope I\'m about to reap what I\'ve sowed in terms of my writing work now. I have a play which is going on next year called Full Moon and another play I\'ve nearly finished. I\'ve also been working on a film script which is now in production and pretty much ready to go, so there\'s plenty in the pipeline. People often say \"in your day\", but I like to think my day is yet to come.

Another project is my autobiographical one-woman show. The timing is absolutely right when we have the credit crunch, as it’s all about fear and finality, which is what most of us are now living in, in juxtaposition with love and infinity. It’s about how I went from love and infinity to fear and finality and back - I was an atheist then I changed. It’s a story of spiritual growth and love for England peppered with stories of some of the greats I met along the way. I\'ll be doing an extract for your theatregoers on the 22 January, which I\'m very excited about, and hope it will be just as exciting for them!


Well opens tomorrow at the Apollo theatre (30 December 2008, preview 29 December), where it runs until 24 January. For more info about our Whatsonstage.com Outing on 22 January, at which Sarah Miles will perform an exclusive extract from her one-woman show, click here.


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