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20 Questions: The Roaring Girl's Lisa Dillon - 'Don't be creative, be curious'

Lisa Dillon has returned to the RSC to star in a rare revival of Dekker and Middleton's 'rebellious comedy' The Roaring Girl

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Lisa Dillon as Moll in The Roaring Girl
© Helen Maybanks

1. Where and when were you born?
In the Midlands but moved pretty soon after to the South Coast, England's sunshine state!

2. What made you want to become an actor?
It's what I do. Simple as that.

3. What else might you have done professionally?
I'd love to have been an artist, painting and drawing.

4. First big break?
My first job out of RADA was Cambridge Spies for the BBC but my theatre break was being cast as Hilda Wangle opposite Patrick Stewart in The Master Builder directed by Anthony Page. It's as big a classical role as any ingénue might play.

5. Career highlights to date?
The Knot of The Heart by David Eldridge. David wrote the role of Lucy for me and it was an astonishing piece of theatre. It rocked my world.

6. Any regrets?
Piaf and I are on the same page on this one.

7. What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
A very early memory is seeing Les Miserables in the West End. I sat up in the gods experiencing a mixture of fear and elation. I've been chasing that feeling as an audience member ever since.

8. And the last?
I recently saw Good People at The Hampstead Theatre. I caught the first preview and was stunned by flawless acting. It was so skilful and brave and nuanced and detailed, I couldn't believe it was their first outing in front of an audience. The play's a gift for actors but Imelda Staunton surfed an emotional wave with the skill of champions. It was masterly.

9. Who are your acting idols?
Well, Staunton's up there for sure.

10. What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Don't be creative, be curious.

11. Why did you want to get involved in The Roaring Girl?
A great time to go back to The RSC and a role I couldn't resist. The character is based upon Mary Frith who stomped around London's Fleet Street and who is possibly the most forgotten female icon of our time. I'm thrilled to be stepping into her shoes for the show. They are big shoes to fill.

12. What's the play about, in no more than five words?
Care less, find your roar.

13. Favourite line in the play?
My spirit shall be mistress of this house (my body) as long as I have time in't.

14. Any rehearsal room mishaps?
A couple of splinters but that's about it! Having said that, it's a pretty ferocious piece and you've got to have your wits about you at all times!

15. What do you hope people take away from the Roaring Girls season?
I hope people see the point in reviving these plays which perhaps at first glance seem creeky and archaic but actually deserve to have new life breathed into them.

16. What's your favourite post-show hang out?
We'll be in Stratford-upon-Avon so The Dirty Duck for post-show replenishment.

17. How do you unwind?
Love, laughter and really awful Saturday night TV

18. If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Don't think I want to. I swap places with people for a living.

19. Favourite theatre joke/anecdote?
What's the first rule of comedy?
(Interrupt 'I don't know' with..) Timing!

20. What's next?
I'm playing in Stratford-upon-Avon until October. That's enough for my brain to absorb right now.

The Roaring Girl runs in The Swan Theatre until 30 September 2014