Recent graduate from Drama Studio London, Indigo Griffiths steps into legendary shoes as Juliet in Shakespeare in the Square’s production of Romeo and Juliet. #TBB10 spoke to Indigo to find out how she got in touch with her inner Juliet…
1# Hey Indigo, tell us about your version of Juliet in this production?
Our production is set in Italy in the 1950s. It’s an incredibly interesting period, there’s very much a cultural divide between the war and poverty of the previous decade and the optimism and prosperity that’s just beginning and which the younger generation are influenced by. For me, this setting helped to inform my version of Juliet – she’s a forward-looking young woman with so much hope, energy and passion but at the same time she’s also living in a patriarchal world and is constrained by tradition and expectation.
2# How did you connect with Juliet’s character and with so many versions of this character available across film, stage, TV and book which points of reference were the most useful?
Going into the production I was aware that there are so many reference points available regarding film, stage, TV etc. and I made the choice to avoid them. I felt that it wouldn’t be helpful for me to watch another actor’s interpretation of the character whilst I was going through the process of finding her myself. My way of connecting was through the text and the language. Shakespeare’s script is so rich and full and he gives you so many choices with every line and word that he writes that I felt free to just explore and find my version of Juliet
3# What drew you to this production and have you played Juliet before?
I’ve never played Juliet before but I was familiar with the play and Juliet has always intrigued me. I was drawn to this production as everyone involved was so passionate about this story and how to communicate this story to a modern audience. From the beginning, I felt that we wanted our production to be bursting with life, love and energy and I hope that we’ve achieved that!
4# For some, Shakespeare is complex in his language and hidden metaphors etc. Are you well versed in Shakespeare or did you struggle to get to grips with it?
I’d studied Shakespeare at drama school so I was somewhat familiar with the language but of course I didn’t understand every single word on a first reading, no-one does unless you’re a scholar! That’s why throughout the rehearsal process we were so focused on clarity and making sure that we as actors explored the script so that we did understand every line and metaphor. Our production really focuses on storytelling, clarity and intention so that even audience members who are completely new to Shakespeare will be able to find their way into the text and connect with these characters and their story.
5# What about Romeo what’s it been like acting opposite Adam Strawford, had you worked together before, if not how do you work on chemistry especially in a piece like this?
We hadn’t worked together before and from the first day our director Tatty gave us exercises and warm ups to do before we’d approach a scene which was great. In general, the atmosphere that Tatty created has meant that the whole production has felt like an ensemble piece which has been fantastic for things like world-building and chemistry.
6# What are you most looking forward when you finally take to the stage?
Being in front of an audience! Our production is all about engaging and connecting with audience, having fun with them and taking them on our journey so it’ll be great to have real people to perform to and not empty chairs in a rehearsal room.
7# Do you have a pre-stage routine/tradition/ do you get nervous?
I don’t have any pre-stage traditions and I definitely do get nervous. For me the most important thing before I go on stage is doing a warm up. Technically and vocally it gets you in the right place but I also find it calms my nerves and helps me to feel focused.
8# Tell us a bit about your acting journey, how you got into it and why?
I can’t remember a time when acting wasn’t a part of my life. It’s just always been something that I’ve done. Even as little kid my sister and my cousin and I would make up shows and perform them to our parents. I took part in youth drama groups growing up and when I went to University I studied Drama and English Literature. I knew that I wanted to get to some formal training but couldn’t afford a three year course so I started doing research into one year courses whilst I was in my final year at Uni. I auditioned and got into Drama Studio London and graduated in 2016.
9# You were in a play about Sandra Bland, such an emotional and politically important figure, how was it working on that production and is being evolved in work that vocalises the mood of society important to you?
I felt so privileged to be even a small part of that production. I feel that theatre has a responsibility to shine a light on and give a voice to the issues, people and stories that are important to our society and humanity. I never met Sandra Bland and I sadly never will but working on that production I felt such a connection to her and her story and the other numerous stories like hers. It was also incredible to be in a room with so many women and so many women of colour. I loved working with that female energy and voice and it’s something I’m definitely looking to do again. [The Interrogation of Sandra Bland ran at The Bush Theatre. Find out more here]
10# What’s next after Romeo and Juliet?
Next, I’m working on a project that I’ve written myself. It’s a two act play set in America in the 1940s and it explores the concept of racial passing. In particular, my play follows the life of a mixed-race woman who makes the decision to pass as white. I myself am mixed-race and so passing and the themes of identity and belonging are subjects that not only fascinate me but feel very tangible and personal.
Shakespeare in the Squares’ production of Romeo and Juliet tours across squares and parks all over London from 21 June to 13 July. Find out where and how to book tickets here.