Cast Interview - Catherine Ashton

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 find out just how much pain I inflict upon them.
The final person to blow our mind holes is Catherine Ashton who plays Mother.

Describe yourself in six words?
Loyal, compassionate, funny, random, quirky and determined. 

What attracted you to the role?
The chance to play my alter ego was undoubtedly my initial attraction to such a great role. Well I couldn't turn it down. I relish character acting and have been waiting for a role like "Mother" to come out and play with.

What attracted you to me?
The fact that you were willing to give me the chance and were brave enough to let me play a deranged 70 year old. I shall be forever grateful.

What's your origin story? What traumatic event or alien encounter has lead you down this theatrical path to the point where I'm making you answer this inane question?
Well I must thank a nursery teacher of mine, who pointed out to my parents that I'm not just playing Mummy's and Daddy's. But I'm dressing up and directing and putting on plays at nursery. She told them about Saturday classes at Sylvia Young's stage school. And here I am still dressing up and getting to play.

I’m genuinely jealous of how much fun you’re having dressing up whilst I watch on.
Tell us about the character you play
My character is just the sort of mother no one would want. A feisty, outspoken, embarrassing parent, though this doesn't come anywhere near to describing some of "Mothers" character traits. She is sometimes a bit disconcerted and slightly terrifying. But she would do anything for her kids and loves them to pieces! I think she's just slightly misunderstood and is suffering from empty nest syndrome.

What do you know about the character that no one else knows?
Well that would be telling! My father once told me that a secret shared, is no longer a secret. But I will tell you this she is partial to a gin and tonic or sherry.

How have you found the rehearsal process?
I have thoroughly enjoyed rehearsals but also found it awkward at times in regards to the positioning. Being on ones knees for a long time, as we have all come to learn isn't a comfortable experience. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect group of individuals to be frolicking around with.

It must be this weird power issue thing I have where I must have you all on your knees before me.
a member of the chorus you play lots of different characters in different situations. What effect does this have? 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?
You don't usually get the chance to be let loose on a multiple of characters. I've given every chorus line or chorus member in a scene an individual character. l usually go with my instincts with a character and then build from there. I think it's important to use different tools and techniques for different lines or characters. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to approach this. As long as it gets you to be where you need to be; that's my motto.

Do you have a specific warm-up or ritual before going on stage?
I like warming up individually or as a group, depending on the role and also feel of the piece. I do think it's important to warm up physical and vocally. But most importantly it’s essential to be in the right frame of mind, calm and not rushed. I always need to pee, it's my nervous thing! Even when I know I've just gone. But as soon as I'm on stage I'm fine.

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?
Well I am flattered. I think it all depends on the writing. From there an actor is given the chance and freedom to play and create a funny character. I also think that with comedy you have to let the actor find the fun in the scene and lines. That's why it's important to cast the right actor for the right role. But you do also need to have a great and comedic line or script in the first place.

I honestly couldn’t be happier with who I have delivering those lines.
You're my actor of a thousand accents. Is there an accent you can't do? Can you do a Martian one or a Russian Dolphin?
Well I don't know about that, but I do love doing accents. There are more than a few I am yet to conquer! I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to me revealing a new accent or voice. But to be honest some of them just seem to come out, whilst in jest or while looking at a character. I can't do dolphin or Martian yet Michael but, I can do non-specific Russian meerkat. As they say practice makes perfect...I'll be sure to add those two to my list.