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Joann Condon - interview

In a rollercoaster of emotions, Little Boxes is the recollection of Joann Condon, and the assumptions that come to restrain us. Anecdotally engaging audiences with stories from various pockets of life - through childhood, acting, parenthood, and self-identity to name just a few - these are wrapped into a thought-provoking play that poses reflection on who we really want to be.

Joann has kindly answered the following questions to tell us more.


Could you tell us a bit about your acting experience, and why you wanted to develop this show?

I left drama school when I was 21. I have found over my career that I am always put up for the parts of the best friend, the cleaner, the maid and never for the lead. We rarely see lead actors who are not a certain age and size. This then made me think about wanting to develop this as part of the show. Lead actors should be all shapes, sizes and ages. Also work really dries up for a female actor between the ages of 50-70, but there are women that age still around, still wanting to be represented in the media.

How did you approach the development of the piece, and collaborate with the creative team to bring your vision to the stage?

I knew I wanted to write a one-woman play, but didn’t know what about until I was chatting to my daughter about wanting to be a boy. It made me realise that I didn’t want her to be put into any boxes through judgments and assumptions the same way I was, but to keep her out of those boxes, I had to face all of mine. I co-wrote this with Leonie Simmons and the way we worked on this was that I wrote the script, and she gave feedback and suggestions over a million cups of tea.

What makes your autobiographical story one that audiences should hear?

I did wonder that myself! But I spoke to a lovely older actor that I knew, and she said people are interested in other people’s life stories, so why should your story be any less interesting? Also, people relate to different parts of it, not that they have had the same experience, but they can relate to it.

What effect does covering a wide range of stories have on the emotions behind the performance, from comedy to sadness?

I think, as humans, we move through different emotional states very quickly and I wanted to try and do that with the show. One minute you are crying, and then laughing, and then sort of doing both at the same time! As an actor, it’s great to be able to switch between these emotions and hopefully bring the audience with me.

Reflecting on personal anecdotes, how have your views changed about past experiences and what have you learnt about yourself in the process?

I look back now and think ‘I wish I had been braver a long time ago’. I have learnt that I still conform too much and allow myself to be boxed up, it’s something that I am still working on.

What advice would you give to anyone relating to the notions you present in the production?

I think to try to surprise people by not acting as they expect you to, and showing that there is more to you than they believe, or know about! Also, to find your ‘me’ box and make it as big as you can.

How would you change societal expectations like the ones you discuss to make the world a better place?

Let people just be! We can all be so quick to make a judgement about another person, but we have no idea about their story or what they have been through to get them to this point. Look past the exterior and as naff as it sounds - just be kind.

Who inspires you and why?

I was extremely inspired by Boy George when I saw him on Top of the Pops when I was 12 years old. It was amazing to see someone be themselves and not care what people thought. He also looked fabulous. It was life-changing for me. I really felt I could be whoever I wanted to be. At the same age, I went to drama classes at the Half Moon Theatre and had a couple of really inspiring teachers, Ruth Sheen and Steve Harris. Ruth Sheen had a cockney accent and for the first time, I felt that there was a possibility that I too could be an actor.


Huge thanks to Joann for this fantastic interview - your insight is wonderful and massively valued. Plus, your show sounds fabulous too! Best of wishes with the run and beyond.

Get your tickets to Little Boxes at New Wimbledon Theatre here:

Additional thanks to Annabelle Mastin-Lee for coordinating this.


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