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20 Questions with ... Naomi Frederick

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Naomi Frederick appears in Edward Bond’s The Chair Plays, currently premiering at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Frederick’s previous credits include several productions for the Royal Shakespeare company and numerous shows at the National Theatre including Marianne Elliot's Mrs Affleck and Simon McBurney's Measure for Measure.

She's also performed at Shakespeare's Globe where she was highly praised for her turn as Rosalind in As You Like It in 2009 and she played the lead role of Laura Jesson in Kneehigh's international hit production of Brief Encounter.

Date & place of birth?
29 November 1976; Iserlohn, Germany (my father was on a military posting).

Lives now in?
Alexandra Palace, London.

What made you want to become an actor?
Discovering, aged 12, that I was going to be too tall for a ballerina, and realising there was this other thing called Theatre.

If you hadn’t become an actor, what might you have done professionally?
Translator, teacher, voice coach, graphic designer, landscape gardener, speech therapist - I still consider switching careers!

First big break?
Playing Isabella for Complicite in Measure For Measure at the National Theatre.

Career highlights to date?
We toured Measure For Measure around the world: playing Shakespeare in India was thrilling. I also treasure the 11 months I spent at the Cinema on the Haymarket, playing Laura in Kneehigh's Brief Encounter.

Favourite co-stars?
Impossible to name favourites. I fall in love with most of the people I work with. Let's just leave it at that.

Favourite writers?
Shakespeare, Chekov, Coward, Alan Bennett, Helen Edmundson, Tom Stoppard, Christopher Shinn. Novelists too? Nabokov, Jonathan Safran Foer, Helen Garner, Rohinton Mistry.

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
Peter Pan at the Aldwych, starring Bonnie Langford. For years I wanted to stage-fly. It's still an unfulfilled dream!

And the last?
Complicite's The Master and Margarita.

What's the best advice you have ever received?
"It's never the end".

Favourite film?
An Education.

Favourite holiday destination?
I've never been, but I'd love to get to Kerala one day.

Are there any parts you would particularly like to play?
I'll jinx myself if I say!!!

Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Eileen Atkins.

What are The Chair Plays about?
Our world in 2077. Mass consumerism has been replaced by its opposite: no-one owns anything. The authorities ban all personal items, including family members and objects of sentiment. People are housed in windowless rooms; food is supplied on ration; no-one is allowed anywhere without documentation. Memories aren't allowed. Imagination is not allowed. The plays are about what it is to be human in a world which treats human-ness as criminal.

Who do you play?
I play Sara, a married woman, who has memory restored to her in the course of the play, the consequences of which are life-shattering; and a Welfare Officer, whose job title speaks for itself, and who causes devastation to two lives.

Were you a fan of Edward Bond's work before?
Yes. I read Saved and Lear at Drama School and I've never forgotten them.

How are you finding working at the Lyric?
I've only just arrived. I'm still trying to remember the door codes and work out where the greenroom is.

What have you got lined up next?
Building a deck in our garden at home; and a summer holiday in Slovenia! The acting jobs will have to elbow their way in...


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