Anna Crichlow has most recently been in the cast of the Globe Touring Ensemble which, due to COVID, had been delayed, playing a number of different roles in Shakespeare’s plays The Tempest, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Previous productions for Anna have included The Last Noël, The Worst Witch (where she originated the role of Enid and worked with The Worst Witch creator Jill Murphy) and Confidence at Southwark Playhouse. We spoke to Anna about being part of the Globe Touring Ensemble, performing in The Worst Witch as Enid and her time in Confidence.
Can you say how it was being in the cast of the Globe Touring Ensemble and about the shows you’ve performed – The Tempest, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Firstly, the ensemble make this job what it is for me. It is incredible to share a stage with such warm and talented people every day. It’s been amazing to tour with three of Shakespeare’s most recognised plays, they each have such a different tone and yet they all feel relevant to right now.
Which characters did you play and what were they like to perform as?
Well, there’s quite a few. In As You Like It I play Celia and Adam, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream I play Hermia, First Fairy and Snug and in The Tempest I play Alonso. So my roles range from King to fairy to young woman; there is no other job where I could say that.
Is there anything you enjoyed most about being in the productions?
I most enjoyed the reactions from the audience. When you are working in shared light and particularly with Shakespeare you are in constant relationship with the audience and because they are different every night the play is different every night.
What drew you to Globe on Tour and what was it like performing at the Globe Theatre over summer?
Our director Brendan O’Hea has such a passion for this project and his energy and verve was the first thing that made me realise this would be a very special job. Shakespeare is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do so I jumped at the chance to do three of his most recognised plays in one job. When we first opened at The Globe, social distancing measures were still in place and even with a smaller audience you could feel the warmth in the space and the excitement for the return of live theatre. We watched our audiences grow as the weeks went on and by the end of our run we were performing to 1000 plus people. The energy in that space is unparalleled.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time in the shows?
My stand-out moment was performing in a church yard in Camberwell, we were hosted by Spring Community Hub, who provide food parcels for the local community. We had a lovely audience and it was a beautiful space but the thing that made it so special was how engaged the children were in the story. At one moment in a scene, Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede) was speaking to Orlando and a young girl shouted out “but that’s Rosalind” clearly exasperated with Orlando not recognising her. That’s what theatre is all about, seeing a child so invested in a story you are telling is a wonderful thing.
Why would you recommend seeing William Shakespeare’s plays and how much did you know about the shows before being cast?
It feels like there’s something universal about Shakespeare. You catch yourself speaking these words from hundreds of years ago and suddenly something so current, so on the nose leaps out.
I knew A Midsummer Night’s Dream very well from doing a production in drama school and The Tempest I had recently done a workshop of for The Globe’s education department. As You Like It was more of a discovery for me as I’d never studied or worked on it.
What was The Last Noël like to be part of?
The Last Noël was such a gorgeous job. It was a new experience to be in such a small company but it meant that we really did become like a family, as our characters were in the piece. Chris (Bush) is a beautiful writer, she always manages to capture the poetry of normalcy. I find myself humming the songs the closer it gets to Christmas time.
How was the experience performing in The Worst Witch as Enid?
I read The Worst Witch books as a child so it was wonderful to get the chance to originate the role of Enid in the stage production. Enid is so bolshy, it’s always freeing playing someone so self-assured. The Worst Witch has completely stood the test of time, so many generations have read and enjoyed these stories. Sharing the stage with a bunch of wonder women, and making (literal) magic every night was a treat and meeting and working with Jill Murphy was a dream, I was very sad to hear of her passing this year.
You played Ruby in Confidence at Southwark Playhouse, what did you enjoy most about being in the cast?
It was wonderful to see so many young people engaging with the piece. Boundless, who produced the show, really care about young adults and what affects them now. Confidence was about four young adults aspiring for something more for themselves and how much they were willing to work to get it. It was also just great fun doing a throwback to the 90s; the set and costumes, designed by Amelia Jane Hankin, were amazing.
How did you get into acting and what inspired you to have a performing career?
I did youth theatre on and off as a child, I always ended up getting shy and not wanting to go back. My mum was a jobbing actor while I was growing up so I saw her creating and grafting all the time. If anything, that made me avoid the career for a while but once I got to my late teens I was pursuing acting full time. I think I grew up knowing that acting wasn’t an easy fairytale job, it took a lot of hard work, talent and determination but doing something you love is 100% worth it; so thanks to my Marge for that.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch?
I always like to watch new writing, especially from voices that we don’t hear enough on British stages. So it’s not often I see something twice. Luckily, living in London there’s always something new to look forward to. Most recently I’ve seen Is God Is by Aleshea Harris at The Royal Court and Cush Jumbo’s Hamlet at Young Vic.
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