BWW Interview: Pearl Chanda Talks THREE SISTERS

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BWW Interview: Pearl Chanda Talks THREE SISTERS
Pearl Chanda in rehearsals

Following the success of the last year's Olivier award-winning Summer and Smoke, Rebecca Frecknall returns to the Almeida to direct Three Sisters.

A new adaptation of Anton Chekhov's story, Pearl Chanda plays one of the eponymous roles: Masha. With performances just underway, Pearl shares her excitement for revisiting Chekhov, returning to the Almeida, and reuniting with Rebecca.

What is one of your earliest memories of theatre?

When I was four, my Dad queued for £10 front row tickets at the National Theatre, and took me to see Richard Eyre's Guys and Dolls with Imelda Staunton.

I remember it super clearly: how magical it all was, and how I felt all of the performers were there just for me!

Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

Yes. I think on some level, deep down I did, though I toyed with the idea of doing and being lots of things.

Luckily when you're an actor you play characters who do a variety of jobs, so vicariously through them I've been a lawyer, beauty therapist, Page 3 girl....

Can you take us through your previous experience with Chekhov?

My first job out of drama school in 2013 was Headlong's The Seagull, so it's been nice to return to Chekhov.

Were you familiar with Three Sisters?

I read it as a teenager, but not since. I came to this production with clear eyes.

BWW Interview: Pearl Chanda Talks THREE SISTERS
Ria Zmitrowicz, Pearl Chanda
and Patsy Ferran in rehearsals

What were your initial impressions of Masha, and how have these developed?

I think Masha is fantastic. She's brash and witty and funny and has the life force running through her veins. She has a Russian artistic soul.

But she's stuck, and through rehearsals, the vital thing was charting her journey so that by the end of the play, you feel that she has the possibility to move forward.

I think she learns to be a kinder, more generous woman by the end.

Is this your first time working with Rebecca?

I first met Rebecca in 2016 up in Newcastle where I played Miss Julie. I immediately realised she was special - a true artist. We then worked on Ink at the Almeida for which she was associate director. She's brilliant and I love working with her.

How would you describe her world of the play, and Cordelia Lynn's retelling?

The version Cordelia has written feels very fresh, but also faithful and sensitive to what I think Chekhov was trying to do. The production is sparse and stark, so it really focuses on the detail that happens between the characters.

BWW Interview: Pearl Chanda Talks THREE SISTERS
Rebecca Frecknall and Cordelia Lynn
in rehearsals

This isn't your first time performing at the Almeida. What are the playing conditions of a space that intimate?

The great thing about the Almeida is its intimacy. The audience are so close and it allows you to let them into your secret.

What can audiences expect from Three Sisters?

Well, I'm not sure you should go to any theatre with any expectations - just experience it! But I think the play is very funny and moving, so I suppose a good laugh and a cry?

Three Sisters at the Almeida Theatre until 1 June

Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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From This Author Rona Kelly