In Conversation With... Kirsty MacLaren | Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour | Interview

Monday 14 August 2017

I'm back with another Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour post (see my recent interview with Karen here)! Today I bring you a chat about all things Our Ladies with the lovely Kirsty MacLaren who plays Manda!

For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and what your highlights have been so far?

Well, for me, doing Our Ladies has been the highlight. I’ve covered so many career goals on this job, from working with National Theatre of Scotland, performing at the National Theatre, touring internationally and now working in the West End. Plus originating a role is a pretty special experience. It’s been the job that has kept on giving, to be honest.

Before I started Our Ladies, and during the breaks we’ve had, I’ve been lucky to do some really diverse work where I’ve learned so much. I’ve worked at Pitlochry Festival Theatre for a year, played Lulu in a series of radio dramas and performed with companies like the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh. These experiences give you the chance to really learn what it is to be an actor.

Were you born wanting to be a performer or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?

I always has lots of energy as a child and was sent to dance lessons to tire me out. I come from a musical family so was always exposed to different types of music, although I didn't really know anyone who had acted professionally. I loved doing amateur dramatics and going to acting classes when I was little, but I had always wanted to be a lawyer until I sort of fell into doing the arts. I went to a Knightswood Secondary, which has a performing arts school attached, and knew then that I had to go down that path.

Our Ladies is just epically brilliant. When you first started working on it did you know it was something special?

I think that we were all so excited with this piece we had made that we weren’t really thinking about how much of a hit it might be. We certainly couldn't have imagined the success that we have had over the 2 years of doing it. The team that are on it are amazing and we were having such a good time creating this piece of theatre that was totally different to anything anyone had done before. But the reception that we got on our first night at the Traverse is something I’ll never forget.

I saw the show at both The National and at the Duke of York and it didn’t lose any of it’s intimate feel or charm. Does the way you work and rehearse change for different venues?

The show relies so much on story telling so whether you are in a small 100 seat venue or an 800 seat venue, that principle stays the same. What changes is how much you have to project in each venue, but as long as you think about telling the story to the person at the very back or top of the theatre, you can’t go wrong.

There are so many styles of music in the show. Does this come naturally or did you have to learn to sing different styles?

I’m trained in different vocal styles, but rarely do you have to mash them together in one show. It’s tiring on the voice, but once you build up the stamina, it becomes much easier.

How do you keep your voice healthy? Do you have any vocal rituals?

We always do a big group warm up together before the show which gets you ready. It’s really important to rest when you can. I’ve also got a vocal steamer helps stop your voice drying out.

Besides yourself, who would you like to see play your role?

I’m a big fan of Morven Christie. She’s seen the show and tweets about it a lot. I think she’d fit right in with us girls.

Can you sum up Our Ladies in five words?

Bold; life-affirming; hilarious; heartbreaking; female

Have you had any funny onstage or offstage mishaps in the show?

Often! We are always laughing at each other on stage. I remember going on with my mic on the outside of my clothes. The other girls didn't tell me until quite a bit through the show. I didn't know what they were laughing at until I eventually realised, and by that point, it was too late.

Is there a musical or play you’ve seen recently that you loved?

I’ve been able to see quite a lot of theatre this summer while I’ve been in London. I loved The Glass Menagerie and Half a Sixpence - both very different, but both brilliant.

Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

I work as a fitness instructor in my spare time. Its a great job when I’m not acting as its flexible, plus I can fit classes in during the day when I’m working in a show.

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

Every opportunity is a good opportunity. Whether you're at youth theatre, am-dram, drama school or a professional show, you can learn from every experience. Listen to any advice you can get and never be scared to ask for help.

A huge thank you to Kirsty for doing this interview! 
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs at the Duke of York's until September 2nd 2017

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor