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5 minutes with: Olivia Vinall - 'The Young Chekhov trilogy is the hardest I've ever worked'

Vinall features in all three of the plays at the National, playing Sofya in Platonov, Sasha in Ivanov and Nina in The Seagull. She spoke to us about getting through the three show days at the National.

Olivia Vinall

I never really realised you could act professionally. I never thought it would be something that was available for me. When it came to choosing what to do after school had finished I thought: "I need to try studying drama." My Mum always said to me: "If you can do what makes you happy each day, then that's the thing to strive for." After studying for three years at UEA, I did a one-year post-grad course at Drama Studio, London. That's how it all began.

My big break would have to have been starting at the National when I was cast in Othello. I still can't believe it. It was quite incredible for me to be here and to have played that role opposite Adrian Lester, Rory Kinnear and Lyndsey Marshal. This is a theatre I've come to since I was very young, even on school trips from Belgium where I used to live. To have an audition, meet Nicholas Hytner and be cast in a production was life-changing.

The Young Chekhov trilogy is the hardest I've ever worked in my life. It's a wonderful challenge though. Our director Jonathan Kent is so full of energy, he doesn't stop. We're really inspired by him. Particularly for me and Des McAleer who are in all three productions, we have to work hard at sustaining your energy levels as well as trying to see each of the characters for who they really are.

The three show days are magical. It's a wonderful theatrical experience for the actors and the audience alike. Everyone is in it together. From the morning, you see the journey of Chekhov's first three plays that he ever wrote and it's extraordinary.

One day, I would love to play Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. I think Tennessee Williams' writing is beautiful and heartbreaking. There is something about her that I keep coming back to. I'm always mesmerised by it.

The Young Chekhov trilogy runs at the National Theatre until 3 September.