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Nina Sosanya on performing live this Christmas: 'We're all at the same party and we've got a lot to share'

The actress will be taking part in an Agatha Christie experience this winter

Nina Sosanya
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Stage and screen star Nina Sosanya is known for a variety of projects including His Dark Materials, Frozen, W1A and Killing Eve. She is now taking part in an exciting new project – a reading of two Agatha Christie pieces at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. The staged readings take place on Wednesday 9 December (Spider's Web), and Thursday 10 December (The Hollow) at Riverside Studios, with proceeds going towards the Theatre Support Fund+ and Acting For Others. We ask her about the project.


1) Agatha Christie has, of late, becoming something quintessentially festive with all the Christmastime thrillers – why did you want to be involved with the Riverside readings?

There's always a feeling of wanting to retreat at Christmas time, to hibernate a little bit. A period thriller is satisfyingly bookended. Christie is familiar but takes you somewhere exciting and mysterious for a while, before returning you safely back to a world where something has been unknotted, solved, and put to rest. Things might never be the same, but everyone's ready and able to move on. Actually that sounds like just what we need.


2) You've wowed on stage and screen – how does it feel being able to have live audiences in the room once again? It's going to be something of a reunion - between us and the audience. We've been writing, and video calling, but now we're all at the same party, and we've got a lot to share. So I think it could be exciting, messy, perfect and imperfect, but we're all in it together. And for us as actors - its always a bit magical to get on to a stage together but this time will be pretty special, even without the hugging.


3) In fact, many of the actors and writers bringing His Dark Materials cut their teeth on stage – do you think the relationship between mediums is more explicit than ever?

There has generally been much more television with a deal of theatricality to it – and that lends itself to more of an ensemble feel on screen. It also demands a level of imaginative input from everyone involved - a skill that is nurtured on the stage. Tech is making a huge difference and is blurring the lines between television and stage, not just in the way we view it as audiences but also actually on set and in the theatre, with both using high and lo-tech to enhance performance; LED video walls, puppetry, motion capture, choreography, its all very cool.


4) What are you excited for over the coming year, where at vaccines have provided the promise of some alteration or easing to restrictions?

I'm excited at the prospect of getting our audiences to feel safe enough to come back to the theatre - remembering that a huge number of them will have fallen into the most vulnerable categories. I hope those sections of the population stop being underestimated as contributors to the economy and culture. Theatre does something clever – it allows for a collective experience that you can enjoy on your own. Not everyone goes to a performance or even to the cinema with other people. Many go alone. It's a valuable and wonderful way to be both alone and together, and hopefully the vaccination of the population will mean that it's more viable for single tickets to be bought at venues.


5) What has been your biggest takeaway from 2020 – and what do you think needs to be remembered from this year?

I'm looking forward to seeing how people respond to the way our industry has morphed and adapted. When theatres do open across the UK I hope that they will be properly appreciated for all that they bring to communities – and that small and touring companies get the plaudits they deserve for their resilience and creativity, sometimes in the face of a blank wall.
Also, 2020 is a stark reminder of how much we need to be involved in stories, and how much we need to be in each other's space. I hope we remember what harm isolation can do, and how quickly mental health issues can surface.

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