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20 Questions: Amanda Hale - 'I'd like to swap places with Beyonce'

Rising star Amanda Hale is currently in rehearsals (alongside Sian Thomas), for Simon Dormandy's revival of Marius von Mayenburg's Eldorado at the Arcola

Amanda Hale in rehearsals for Eldorado

1. Where were you born?
London, same day as Gandhi. Not same year. But we're very similar.

2. What made you want to become an actress?
If I could remember I'd time travel back to that moment and dunk my head in a toilet until that very silly idea was flushed out of my mind.

3. If you hadn't been an actress, what might you have done professionally?
It's a complete fantasy considering I swim like a panic attack but I always feel this tug of yearning when I see photos of surfers riding huge green waves... I'd just surf, man.

4. First big break?
Do they exist? Every time someone tells me "this job will change everything" I invariably end up unemployed for the following ten months.

5. Career highs?
The Glass Menagerie seems to be a sacred experience for every actor I know who has ever been in it, it's such a gift of a play. I cherished it. Our Class had a power and momentum all of its own. New plays like Crooked and The Domino Heart were so gorgeously written-when you realise how rare that is, you really relish the time you have with them.

6. Any regrets?
Pretty much every time I've not listened to my gut instinct it's turned out to be a mistake. And then you learn to let it go.

7. What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact?
We didn't really do plays at school but I vividly remember us going on a class trip to another local primary school and seeing them perform bits of what I now realise was The Odyssey. I don't know why it has stayed in my mind so clearly. I really went with it. I didn't set foot in a theatre until I was 16 and taken by my sixth form college - they chose a triple whammy of Complicite's Caucasian Chalk Circle, Janet McTeer in A Doll's House and Imelda Staunton in Guys and Dolls. That spun me round alright.

8. And the last?
I was exhilarated by Death of a Salesman in New York with Philip Seymour Hoffman. I feel very lucky to have seen him on stage. The last scene he had with Andrew Garfield had me with my forearm in my mouth to hold in how hard I was crying.

9. Acting heroes?
As I get older I find something to admire in every actor I watch. I really think if you give someone your full attention you can find so much to like.

10. Best advice you've been given?
"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen" - Robert Bresson.

11. Why did you want to get involved in Eldorado?
It's like music, you either want to get up and dance to it or you don't. Eldorado made me want to dance.

12. What's the play about?
Feck knows - [at time of interview] we're on day three of rehearsals and it's very clear that it's a play that defies being summed up. But I'm sure the Arcola do a nice blurb somewhere on their website.

13. Favourite line?
"..but I'm a human being and I need a room when it rains"

14. Any rehearsal room highlights?
Today I was really excited and moved by the director's idea that one of the character's names, Manuela, means "a gift from God" and that it could support the idea that she symbolises the return of another character's soul at the end of the play... then he said "of course, it also just means hand job."

15. What do you hope people take away from the show?
It's such a personal thing, watching a play, so much of the experience is coloured by all the baggage you bring to it as an audience member. So to expect people to 'get' some kind of intended message or feeling would be futile and not an interesting pursuit. I'm very happy to let people make of it what they will.

16. Where's your favourite post-show haunt?
Wherever my man is.

17. How do you unwind?
See above.

18. If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
This, like most favourites, would change every time you asked me but how much fun would it be to be Beyoncé playing Glastonbury?

19. Favourite theatre anecdote?
My parents' underwhelmed, bewildered reactions to the weird plays I'm in always make other actors laugh. The first time they ever went to the theatre was to come and see me play Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals at drama school. Afterwards my mum shook her head and said "I don't like Shakespeare." My dad left halfway through Into The Woods because he thought that was the end. He sat in the bar for ages wondering why I was taking so bloody long.

20. What's next?
As usual, no clue.

Eldorado runs at the Arcola Theatre from 26 March to 3 May 2014