INTERVIEW: Allison McKenzie star of Macbeth West End talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog

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You have opened in the eagerly anticipated Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios; how did the rehearsals go?

Rehearsal were very lively! We really attacked this play from the first day with a combination of intense movement workshops, voice and text work and sheer gusto in making bold and risky choices. Every day was full of surprises! A lot of energy was needed.

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Allison in rehearsal for Macbeth. Picture credit Johan Persson.

How did you prepare for your roles as Lady MacDuff and as one of the infamous Witches?

I prepared my portrayal of Lady MacDuff and also one of the Witches with a huge amount of research. As we are setting our production in a post apocalyptic/dystopian Scotland the choices had to be very true and pertaining to the time. I decided to make Lady MacDuff a very strong character. She is no pushover, very earthy with a very strong self of herself and what is right. Which made me lean towards making her a peaceful political activist trying to fight against Macbeth’s tyranny. My Witch on the other hand has no soul or moral compass and for that I explored soldiers with post traumatic stress syndrome and the dark arts which was really interesting. The questions brought up in rehearsals were ‘are the witches mortal; have they witnessed battle themselves; have they sold their soul to gain power; are they the voice of fate?’ which was so interesting to explore.

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Do you think being Scottish yourself you have more of an understanding of the heart and soul of Macbeth?

I don’t think being Scottish makes me have more of an understanding of the heart of the play. It’s a play of our times with a dictator, bloodshed and tyranny. It’s happening all over the world and could be set anywhere, even present day Syria. It’s beautiful to hear the language spoken in the Scots dialect though.

What can we expect from Jamie Lloyd’s new adaptation of the “Scottish Play”?

Jamie Lloyd has created a no holds barred Macbeth. It is visceral, bloody and moves at a ferocious pace. When speaking to audience members afterwards they feel they’ve been taken to hell and back and are absolutely exhausted watching it. They usually need a stiff drink or two to recover!

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James McAvoy and Jamie LLoyd in Macbeth rehearsals.

You are a familiar face in Scotland but can you tell our readers in the rest of the UK a bit about your background?

My background lies in all mediums of performance. From being in Glasgow Schools Youth Theatre as a young girl, to studying for 3 years at Drama School to then heading to Dundee Rep as part of their ensemble company for a year where I was nominated for Best Actress at The Theatre Management Awards for Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I then moved to London to concentrate on TV and film which brought me back to Scotland after a couple of years to play Joanne Rossi in River City. I decided to leave after 4 years to head back to my first love which is theatre. I’ve been really busy the last couple of years with two feature films being released and well as appearing on TV and stage.

You’ve appeared on television, film and on stage, what career ambitions would you still like to fulfill?

I have lots of ambitions I would like to fulfill. Always improving my craft is one of them. Consistently taking risks in the parts I play and working with creative and wonderful actors, writers and directors is fundamentally most important.

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What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career as an actor?

If you are thinking of becoming an actor I would advise you to go to drama school and train. It really serves you well in your career and opens lots of doors and believe in yourself! there are a lot of knock backs in this profession and you need to have the wisdom and gumption to know that you may not have been right for that particular part but you’re next job is just round the corner. Have faith!

What have you got planned for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

2013 has started off very well and long may it continue! I am about to start filming for the second series of Line of Duty which stars fellow Scottish actor Martin Compson, Robert Lindsay, Keeley Hawes and Jessica Raine. Written by Jed Mercurio it was BBC Two’s biggest new drama series for 10 years, series two will feature a new police corruption story told over six one-hour episodes. After that – well basically I’m very excited as to where the year will take me!

Finally, can you describe yourself in three words?

Happy, Spirited, Creative

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