BWW Interviews: BED AND SOFA's Kaisa Hammarlund
Hi Kaisa! Welcome to BWW:UK. How are things?
Greetings, BWW:UK, and thanks for having me! I'm very well thank you...apart from the fact that my head is spinning from trying to remember my music, lyrics...and my Cossack dance moves!
Gosh, sounds intriguing! I last saw you in the role of Petra in A Little Night Music; what have you been up to since then?
I had a fantastic time with Petra the minxy maid and I was sad to finish. But once a maid, always a maid! I've just spent last autumn and Christmas playing another lovely handmaiden: Constance in The Three Musketeers, by George Stiles, whom I adore, at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. I had an absolute ball and managed to get a bit of swordfighting and swashbuckling in as well as singing pretty songs and kissing D'Artagnan! Fantastic cast with Matt Rawle, Hal Fowler and Paul Thornley as the musketeering trio.
You're about to open in the European premiere of a musical called Bed and Sofa at the Finborough Theatre; can you tell us a little bit about that?
I absolutely love being involved in new projects and writing. This is particularly exciting because I've never heard anything quite like it. I play Ludmilla, a housewife who stays at home dreaming of romance. Moscow has a housing shortage, so when Volodya arrives with nowhere to live, he is invited to share me and my husband's cramped quarters with surprising results [Kaisa winks].
It's based on a scandalous 1926 Russian film comedy, and brings to life a raunchy ménage-a-trois with a twist. Inspired by the distinctive style of the silent movie it's both haunting and darkly funny. The Finborough is a very exciting venue and it suits the piece perfectly. I'm thrilled to finally do a show here.
The A Little Night Music cast wasn't huge, but this one is a three-hander...is that quite tough?!
I don't think I realised exactly how tough it was going to be. With only three people on stage...and a sung-through piece...you sing pretty much non-stop for 90 minutes with no interval! I'm actually a little worried about pee-breaks!
The music is also very intricate and demanding, and I thought I was used to Sondheim!, but with beautiful results. I hope I can do it justice. It's a very intimate space and that's also exciting and challenging. No hiding!
Ah yes, the pee-break situation will be rather tricky, I imagine! Good luck with that!
It seems to be a recurring theme of mine! In African Gothic I started the play with peeing in a pot on stage...pretending, that is! Perhaps I can find out where that potty went and have it strategically placed somewhere on stage?
Genius plan! While we're on the subject, wasn't there a pee-related situation during your run in A Little Night Music?! Not involving you, of course, but an audience member?!
Ah yes, Pee-Gate at the Menier Chocolate Factory...it involved a rather inebriated and somewhat jolly male member of the audience. He thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the darker-lit moments of 'You Must Meet My Wife' to relieve himself behind the curtains at the side of the stage. Little did he realise it wasn't the woods of Sweden lurking behind those curtains, but indeed our lovely and somewhat dumbstruck ensemble, waiting to go on for the next scene. Needless to say, he wasn't invited back...
Oh good grief! I imagine the ensemble were somewhat traumatised! Do you prefer performing in more intimate spaces such as the Menier and the Finborough? And do you find the audiences differ in such places to large theatres?
I think I've been thoroughly spoilt with the experience of both. Massive arenas and theatres for when I did Mamma Mia, for example. That was quite a buzz when the whole audience goes wild at the end. Almost like being a rockstar! But I've also learned to really appreciate the smaller theatre-spaces. You can go back to basics with a piece and the audience is with you every single step. You can almost hear a smile and every nuance of their reaction. Good or bad! Of course it can be a little bit scary to have the audience-members so close to you, but it's a great buzz and I've come to love it. I think I definitely prefer an intimate space.
Can you give us one similarity and one difference between yourself and your character in Bed and Sofa?
Apart from the obvious...I'm not a repressed Russian housewife from the 30s [Kaisa winks] I think me and Ludmilla share the same dreamlike outlook. I catch myself daydreaming quite frequently. If you ask my flat-mates, I probably have the same fanatic cleaning-streak as little Ludmilla! We like things to be tidy!
I'm sure your flat-mates appreciate that! And finally, what's next for Kaisa?
Something very exciting that is very different to Bed and Sofa! It's unfortunately still under wraps...but obviously BWW:UK will be the first to know! Keep a look-out on my website www.kaisahammarlund.com .
Great, will do! Thanks, Kaisa!