BWW Interview: Amy Morgan Talks A KIND OF PEOPLE at the Royal Court
Set during a party on a Friday night, this new play examines seven people and asks wider questions about communities in Britain today. BroadwayWorld spoke with Amy about her character, Victoria, the rehearsal process, and how the play compares to her previous work.
What excites you about working in theatre?
I love that theatre has an immediacy to it. It's live every night, anything can happen, and you get an instant reaction back from the audience. I've never experienced anything like the first night of a play. Especially a new play. It's electric!
What was your first reaction to reading the script of this play?
"Whoa, this is big time." I couldn't put it down. I knew these people, I'd overheard these conversations, I'd been in these rooms...it's terrifyingly real and current and relevant, and I thought, "Well if I don't get this part, I can't WAIT to go and see it!".
What's surprised you about this play as rehearsals have continued?
How moving it is. I knew it was funny and I knew it really packed a punch, but my god it's moving. I've properly wept watching every run we've had in the rehearsal room. And I already know how it ends!
Did you do any research for the role?
Before rehearsals begin, I normally read the script (a good start!) and then go back through it looking for clues about my character. I love that bit. Then it's connecting the dots and building a backstory. Once rehearsals start, I don't really have a set process. It's more about getting to know the cast and creative team and how they work and gelling with them. I try and learn everything by about halfway through rehearsals.
How does A Kind of People compare with Noises Off and Exit The King?
They're all very different plays! Exit the King was one of my favourite jobs I've ever had. Such an incredible play and a brilliant cast. But it was totally off the wall and absurdist and I played an overly passionate French Queen...
Noises Off is by far the hardest play I've done in terms of technical work. Every single line has a very specific rhythm to it, and if you don't hit the beats, the audience won't laugh. It was one big choreographed dance. Epic!
And A Kind of People has been one of the most enjoyable and moving experiences I've had in theatre. This cast and creative team are exceptional and the play is astonishing. But it's totally naturalistic, so very different to the other two.
What resonates with you about this play?
I'm really worried about what's happening in Britain at the moment. There's a lot of fear and uncertainty and it seems to be pulling us all apart rather than bringing us together. I think this play really encapsulates that feeling in many different ways.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this play was to have the conversations in the bar afterwards - to see what opinions people have formed of certain characters and of certain scenes, and to have difficult conversations about what judgements they may have made. I genuinely think this is a really important play for us right now and the Royal Court is the perfect place for it.
Are you a fan of parties?
Yes - I LOVE a party. Although my sofa is starting to look more and more appealing the older I get...
Can you talk about your character and what's changed about her during rehearsals?
Victoria is a tricky one... I sort of don't want to say too much about her before people see the play. But she's definitely been on a journey through rehearsals!
Is A Kind of People posing a question to the audience (and do we get an answer?)?
I think you'd have to ask our writer Gurpreet [Kaur Bhatti] for a definitive answer. There are definitely big questions within the play and all the characters have difficult choices to make. But ultimately, I think it's a play about love and connections and what happens when they get broken and fractured.
If you could see a change in the theatre industry in the next five years, what would it be?
Oh god, that's a big question! More diversity in all sectors would be a good start. I'm part of a scheme called Open Door, which is a non-profit organisation that helps talented young people who don't have the financial support or resources to get into drama school. It's an incredible project run by my mate David Mumeni and it's genuinely making a big change already.
I'd also like to see the Government invest more money in the arts. For one, theatre wages have not really changed that much in the 12 years I've been acting and it's getting even harder to pursue a career in it now. So what chance do young people from low-income backgrounds have? It breaks my heart that the arts are being so grossly undervalued by our Government.
Who would you like to work with in the industry?
More women I think! I just saw my castmate Petra in [Blank] at the Donmar and I was blown away by it. It's an entirely female cast, and the energy and vibe in the theatre was so exciting. I also absolutely love Alice Birch's work, so I'd really love to do something like that.
What would you like audiences to take away from this play?
Whatever they want really! Different people will hear and see different things in this play. That's what's so fantastic about Gurpreet's writing: it's all in there to be discovered. And Michael [Buffong] has directed it so beautifully and subtly that I can't wait to hear what the audience take from it.
Photograph credit: Manuel Harlan