'They are wonderful female parts... they are strong and full'

'They are wonderful female parts... they are strong and full'

Thursday, 16 April 2015

by Raza Khan

Young reporter Raza Khan talks to A View from the Bridge's Daisy Boulton and Teresa Banham talk about their characters and how they feel about Eddie's demise.

In this interview, I sit down with Teresa Banham and Daisy Boulton, currently playing Beatrice and Catherine in Stephen Unwin’s production by Touring Consortium Theatre Company. I wanted to find out what they have to say about their characters and what it's like being involved in this production.

How did you prepare for your roles?
As a self-confessed procrastinator, I have watched and loved many films and TV shows when I should have been doing something less fun, like coursework and exam revision. One of these shows was The Sopranos, watching the entire first and second season in a week is something I pride myself on. When Teresa began by saying she watched "The Sopranos to listen to the accent and the dialect", both Daisy and I let out an admiring "ohhhhh". Teresa also mentioned Arthur Miller recognised that British actors can do tragedy very well, due to their classical Shakespearean training. In my opinion, this play must be tackled the same way one would tackle Shakespeare, A View from the Bridge is essentially a modern epic.

Daisy said that this was pretty much how she prepared for the role, continuously reading the play "kind of the way you'd read Shakespeare". Daisy goes on to cite Philip Seymour Hoffman's foreword in the Penguin Classics edition of the play as a piece of writing which always gets to her. I can relate to this, from an acting perspective Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant, however, his lesser-known writing talents are even more so. It was a selection of poems he had written whilst at university which inspired me to write at the age of 14. (A link to which I must tweet Daisy and Teresa, as soon as Teresa begins to understand Twitter that is!)

How powerful do you think your characters are?
As soon as I asked this, I was met by thinking faces and silence. The silence was occasionally broken by a thoughtful "hmmmm" and "aaahh". Daisy smiles looks over at Teresa and says "I'll let you go first", to which Teresa replies "No, no, you can answer, I just need to think for a minute." Then... silence.

To be fair, this is a question that requires thought. We seem to believe this idea of "power" is universal, however, it is entirely subjective. Kim Jong Un feels powerful when oppressing a nation, whereas I feel powerful when helping someone get an item off a high shelf, entirely subjective yet entirely satisfying. At a time when women were just beginning to climb out of sexist societal constructions, how powerful could Catherine and Beatrice be? The answer is, very. 

"They are wonderful female parts... they are strong and full" Teresa answers breaking the silence. This is a notable point, in Miller's other works women are arguably marginalised and made to be wallflowers witnessing the inevitable descent of the men in their lives, like Linda in Death of a Salesman. Beatrice and Catherine on the other hand, are wonderfully fleshed out characters with a physical presence in the proceedings of the play. Most importantly, Catherine has a job. A woman working in the 1950s was not uncommon, however, it was significant. In many ways, Catherine's employment represents the dismantling of sexist ideals, the archetypal housewife, and ultimately of patriarchy.

Beatrice is the audience’s eye on the stage. Just as Watson is to Sherlock, and the companion is to The Doctor. Beatrice knows her husband cannot recover, she knows her marriage is in ruins. These are the unspoken truth's which can only ever be conveyed through Beatrice's character. I believe Beatrice's power is beautifully expressed through her contrast with Catherine. Beatrice is the all-knowing, mature, experienced woman to Catherine's naive, innocent, protected girl. 

By the end of the play, is there any part of you which is satisfied when Eddie dies?
This question did not seem so brutal and heartless when I wrote it down, but as soon as I said it, I sounded like a monster. I'm basically asking them to answer if they were glad when Eddie dies. Again I was in a state of silent panic, but then both Teresa and Daisy laughed and I was put at ease again. Nothing brings out the laughs like asking if you're happy at someone's death. Bliss.

"I've seen the play four times and Eddie's death is always satisfying for the audience" Teresa says nodding. Eddie faces such an ordeal throughout the play, you just feel it his time when he dies, he's heading for it from the beginning.

The most irritating points in the play are when you just want to grab Eddie by the shoulders and yell "DON'T DO IT". Daisy becomes physically annoyed when speaking of the scene where Eddie calls immigration. It's at that point the audience thinks "ohhh Eddie, this is how you're going to die".

What's been the most rewarding aspect of being a part of this production?
"It may sound icky, but the company is just great," says Teresa. Well, Teresa, it's not icky as such, you just sound a little like a hippy at a love in. Jokes aside, one can really feel the chemistry between them and Jonathan Guy Lewis (playing Eddie) on stage, bouncing off each other instantaneously. 

A View from the Bridge opened at Theatre Royal, Nottingham, where it ran from 4 to 7 March 2015. It then toured to Cheltenham, Darlington, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Coventry and Edinburgh, where it concluded on 2 May.