Appearing in Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Plenty, Macy Nyman is playing the role of Dorcas, which is her second time at the theatre after her previous run in The Stepmother in 2017. Since graduating from LAMDA, Macy has had stage roles which have included the lead character, Sophie, in The BFG, working at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Pack of Lies and has also filmed guest roles on TV. Catching up with Macy, she speaks about her professional stage debut, playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory and portraying Dorcas in CFT’s Plenty.
Can you tell us about Plenty and what drew you to the production?
I didn’t think about how extraordinary it is until the first day of rehearsals. The play was written a while ago about a woman but it wasn’t made a big deal, it was just a play. I remember sitting in rehearsals thinking how amazing that was because there are so few plays written in that time with huge female leads. It’s a really cool, cinematic play. It jumps in time a lot so a lot of us only have one scene, but it means each scene is very well rounded and it has a really good storyline.
What do you remember about reading the script for the first time?
I’d never seen it on stage or seen the film and I remember thinking it would be a real challenge. As I said before, it’s quite cinematic, it goes over about twenty years and I thought it would be a real challenge to tell that story well. It’s something we’re used to seeing on screen and not so used to seeing on stage, but we’ve worked really hard on our transitions and scene changes.
How was it meeting the rest of the cast for the first time and have you worked with any of them previously?
I haven’t worked with any of the cast previously. There are fourteen people so it’s a really big cast and I think it’s the biggest cast I’ve worked with. It’s always quite scary meeting everyone and you get that first day at school feeling!
Yolanda (Kettle), who is in the play, is really brilliant and she was about five years above me at LAMDA, so I didn’t know her, but I knew of her as we had mutual friends who had worked together. We got really friendly really quickly. As it’s such a fragmented play, if you’re not in a scene with someone, during the rehearsal period you could actually end up not seeing them for about three weeks, so since coming to Chichester it’s been really great because we’ve been forced to suddenly spend loads of time with each other. They’re a really amazing and wonderful company.
What can you say about your character and what is she like to portray?
I usually play characters who are about the age of twelve and Dorcas is seventeen, so that’s really exciting for me! She’s had boyfriends and partied, which is very different from the characters I usually play. I’m really excited by the fact I smoke on stage and I wear quite an attractive outfit. I’ve also got a really cool wig so I feel like I’m moving up in the world! She’s really posh and a really fun character. This theatre is such a big space, so I think I’m quite blessed with my part because she’s quite big and confident so it’s really easy to fill the space.
How different is this show to your previous theatre roles?
Everything I just said! I’ve also been in Chichester before, in a play at the Minerva a couple of years ago. I played a fourteen-year-old girl so I feel like two years later, I’m back with a bang in a different play.
📷 : The Other Richard
How have the shows gone so far?
They’ve gone really well. The actors do a lot of the scene changes in the show, and there’s a reason why I’m not a stage manager! I’m very anxious about moving chairs and dressing people, which I’m having to do on stage, so all through the first show I was thinking, ‘will I get the chair in the right place?’, so it was quite scary for that reason. When we finished, there was a huge sigh of relief that we managed it. I think for the first few shows we were racing through them, thinking about the scene changes, but it’s been good for the last couple of shows being able to bring it back to the acting.
What’s it like being involved with a show that is now tipped as ‘one of the great modern classics’?
It’s really exciting. You really have those pinch yourself moments when you’re sitting in a room with David Hare, and if you’d have told the eighteen-year-old me going to drama school that I’d be doing that, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s really cool and the play’s amazing. It’s weird having people come to see the show having known it well or having seen it before, but it’s cool to see how our production is different.
You performed at the theatre previously in The Stepmother, what do you like about playing here?
I love Chichester, it’s like being on summer camp! I’ve been blessed with two really good companies while I’ve been here. The last company I worked with were the biggest joy ever and we’re still really close. It’s different to doing a show in London as you’re all forced to hang out with each other and I love that people of all ages and from different places just get together. It’s basically hanging out with your best friends all day every day.
The theatre is really respected and the work is really good. I’ve been in two really good shows here, which is lovely. I’m really excited that people travel to come in and see things. It’s my favourite theatre ever to work in, I love it so much. You get treated really well by everyone – from the wigs, to the dressers, to the stage management… I haven’t done jobs where you get taken care of so well. It’s like a big family here.
How did you find your time in Pack of Lies?
I loved it. It was at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which is a theatre I really love. My dad has worked there loads, so it feels quite homely to me, so I felt so privileged and lucky to be working there. I met some really great actors and the play went down really well. Pack of Lies was similar to Plenty in the way that a lot of people had seen it when it was on with Judi Dench in the 1980s. Her daughter, Finty, was playing Judi’s part in our production and she’s amazing, so that felt really lovely.
What and when was your first stage appearance?
I did The BFG at the Octagon Theatre and I was playing a ten-year-old, which I really loved. I got that job about a month after I left drama school. It was directed by Sarah Esdaile, who’s a really brilliant director, and even though it was a family Christmas show, it was just treated like a standard play, which I think was important. It turned out to be really good and people really loved it. It was my first experience of being away from home, which was really great but it can be lonely as well. It was lovely.
📷 : The Other Richard
What do you enjoy about performing to a live audience opposed to screen?
I find screen acting so difficult and I find doing plays the best thing ever. I completely prefer it for two main reasons – 1) the excitement of being in front of a live audience, and 2) the family atmosphere and everything you get from being in the show. It’s not just doing the performance, but it’s the experience of being together every day, it’s so lovely and it’s incomparable to anything else. I haven’t done any long-running series where I’m sure you do get the family atmosphere but in theatre you make such good, lifelong friends. I love that and the thrill of performing to a thousand people every night.
We’ve heard that you filmed for the upcoming TV release Alex Rider, how did you find the experience?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say. I have two lines and I was on it for one day but it was really cool. It looked really beautiful and everyone in it seemed really good. I think it’s going to be great.
What was your time like training as an actress?
Really special. I had such a great year and I’m still really close to a lot of my friends who went to drama school. I loved it and I look back and think it was probably the best time of my life. I didn’t play huge roles, I played a lot of maids and I had learned my lines by day one. I didn’t have any experience of being a favourite or having roles handed to me and I think that was actually really useful because I don’t expect anything now. At the time, it was really frustrating, but now I think it’s harder for people who were given everything at drama school and can’t match that in their life outside. LAMDA is great place and it was very exciting.
Do you have any roles booked for when the run of Plenty finishes?
No, simple as that!