Cast Interview - Amy Wiles

As we approach our production of Stripped we've decided to pose some interview questions to our actors so that the world may get to know them and relate to them before going in. And to have our Harry Potter dreams crushed.

Our current victim is Amy Wiles who plays Scarlett.

Describe yourself in six words?
Just your average human being, really. 

What's your origin story?
I had one of those idyllic childhoods growing up in northern countryside villages; happily married parents, little brother, a cat and a dog. When I was five I started taking dance and singing classes after school with my friends; as the years went by they all left to focus on exams but I could never choose between performing and my only passions at school, art and writing. Then I was awarded a scholarship to train at The Italia Conti in London; fast forward 4 years and about 5 months and here I am. It turns out my mum had dreamt about being an actress before she went onto teach English, and when my brother decided to give drama a go he ended up training at RADA for a year, so I guess it’s in my blood.

What attracted you to the role?
Pretty much as soon as I read the script I knew I wanted to be a part of this play. The characters in Stripped are so colourful and the plot is brilliant; it touches on serious subjects, but it’s playful and witty at the same time. I also thought Scarlett would be a really great role to get my teeth into.

What makes her so good to bite? What do you know about the character that no one else knows?
We meet Scarlett about half way through the play. ‘He’ has been informed of his death, when finally he hears about a room that holds all the answers to the meaning of his life. But when he enters the room the only thing he finds in it is another lost soul, Scarlett. She’s been driven mad with loneliness and anger towards those who deceived her. I guess what no one else may be aware of is that behind the vicious exterior there is a very vulnerable girl, crippled by vivid hallucinations and psychosis. I decided this could also be linked to her death when I was developing her character since many accident victims develop psychosis as a result of violent trauma.

You have the…most annoying of my dialogue to deliver, stuff like "blood of the undermind". How do you get your head around that and deliver it straight?
Scarlett is terribly vicious with her words, but I think that’s partly why I like her character so much. Sometimes what she says very seriously can sound comedic to the audience, but so long as I’m completely in character I won’t get the giggles.

What is your characters theme song?
I think her theme song would be Blondie’s ‘One way or another’ or on a darker note Courtney Love’s ‘Life Despite God.’

You're probably half the height of Kris, is it a challenge to feel threatening to him?
If I’m honest, no. I’m sure he’s more frightened of me than I am of him. Like a spider.

You're also a member of a chorus playing lots of different characters in different situations. Do you create intricate back stories for each individual, create a caricature for each line or focus on making each one as different as possible?
When a chorus member’s line can be as short as 1 or 2 words it seems silly to create a whole character history for that fraction of a second. I tend to concentrate on what is happening in the scene and then see whatever personality seems most natural for that moment. Of course, a ‘funny accent’ thrown in here and there can be amusing for the audience as well as the other actors.

How have you found the rehearsal process?
I’ve worked on a few plays that rehearse a couple of evenings a week, so I’m used to long rehearsal periods. Of course it’s still been difficult. Being an actor is like having 2 jobs; 1 to feed the family and 1 to feed your soul. But once you start to see it all come together it feels fantastic, I’m really going to miss everyone when the play finishes its run.

Do you have a specific warm-up or ritual before going on stage?
Just like at the beginning of a rehearsal it’s good to get your body warmed up and your brain focused so that the energy stays high throughout the performance. I’ll have to do a few vocal exercises as well since I tend to be a bit ‘shouty’ when I’m playing Scarlett. I’m afraid I don’t do anything dramatic like throw up or sell my soul to Lucifer before a show, so long as I’m confident with my lines I shouldn’t get nervous.

The play is supposedly a comedy and whilst a lot of that rests on the script, everyone has been cast because they're naturally funny. What are your comedy influences?
Why, thank you. I think it’s so much harder to write a comedy than a tragedy because everyone has different opinions on what they consider is funny. I’m not sure if I have any specific comedy influences, I just try to see lots of different plays and films and keep an open mind. I’m a big fan of the comedian Tim Minchin, his use of wordplay with music is genius.

Were you to be around Dan and I when we sing Inflatable You or Rock n Roll Nerd we might just be able to ruin Tim Minchin for you.

Did you learn any magic spells when you were filming Harry Potter?
No magic spells I’m afraid, but I did learn how to get paid lots for doing nothing! Background work is great if you can get it, but there are a lot of early mornings and sitting around waiting to do what will end up being just a 5 second shot. I think it’s pretty magic I never missed the bus that took us to the studio at 7am; I am definitely not a morning person!

And finally if you had Nine days to find the meaning of your life where would you look first?
I’d look on eBay.