Anne-Marie Casey's new adaptation of Louise May Alcott’s beloved and iconic novel, Little Women, has recently graced the Watford Palace Theatre, and resulted in some charming reviews.
Playing Laurie in the production, Richie Spencer has discussed more about how he brought the role to life in his own way.
Can you tell us a little about working on this show, and what the role means to you?
Having brought this show from Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer rep season it means that the process has involved juggling a few different productions at once. Jumping from production to production keeps the process very fresh and interesting, but also offers up the challenge of splitting your focus between multiple storylines at once.
With Little Women being so well loved and timeless, it’s definitely a balancing act between keeping the story telling fresh (helped by Anne-Marie Casey’s wonderful new adaptation) and staying true to the characters' personalities and journeys that fans old and new are expecting to see.
This role will always be a bit special for me as this contract marks my professional debut and my very first opportunity to create a character of my own!
What does this adaptation bring that is unique, in comparison to others of the same story, and how are you creating your own interpretation of such a beloved novel?
This adaptation gives us a really intimate insight into the inner workings and relationships of the March family. Allowing us to feel really engaged with the various personal challenges each character experiences whilst allowing the homeliness and tenderness to shine through.
The beautiful thing about creating a piece of theatre is that any production of the same material will be completely different depending on how everyone, from the creative team to the cast, interpretes the text. No two productions will ever be the same if actors are given the freedom to play and express their own view points on how individual lines and scenarios should be perceived. Although certain lines and aspects of different adaptations may be the same, the emotional connection we have to the characters could be very different dependent on what is played in front of us, creating an interesting and thought provoking experience whichever version you are lucky enough to see.
What relevance does this story still have in society today?
Themes of family interaction, love and the pursuit of self discovery are all very prevalent in any period of time and these themes run through the core of the piece. Also, the perception of gender stereotypes is called into question with all of the March sisters and Laurie. Portraying what is expected versus what a person actually wants and how society can set about itself to stifle anything that is perceived to be ‘against the norm’. Which is something that is very much on going and thankfully more widely talked about and rightly challenged in today’s society… though there is still much work to be done.
What is your favourite quality of your character, and which bits of your own personality are elements in them?
It’s been fantastic exploring Laurie’s energetic and playful characteristics alongside his tormented side, whilst discovering the emotional journey he under goes into a more mature young adult. That being said, I tend to enjoy exploring the the more tormented side from an acting stand point, it gives me something to get my teeth stuck into!
After reading the play, I could relate to a lot of Laurie’s personal characteristics. It’s probably true that most people have been in the situation of thinking we know what we want from something/someone and not realising until later down the line that we actually were in pursuit of something completely different.
If you were one of the sisters, which one would you be and why?
Jo perhaps? But I think that’s who everyone wants to be like! The independence and slightly wild side to her personality is very relatable as well as her desire to peruse her creative instincts, an ultimately discovering a sense of truth and purpose to her life.
Who or what has inspired your performance in this production?
It is my opinion that an actors job is to be inspired by the text in front of you and the people around you; discovering and growing your character in relation to what the writer has put on the page, the directors vision for the piece and what your fellow actors are offering, so that everyone collaborates to tell the most truthful version of the story we can.
Which other stories would you like to see brought to the theatre?
I would love to see as many different stories from as many different cultures and backgrounds as possible in the theatre, giving everybody a platform to share their voice and giving theatre goers the opportunity to learn, understand and experience stories that they might not normally get the chance to.
Big thanks to Richie for sharing his thoughts on being part of this production, and wish you all the best for the future!
Additional thanks to Flavia Fraser-Cannon for coordinating this interview.