Catherine Shipton Interview
Posted by Guest Writer on Mon, 21 Sep 2009.
FORMER CASUALTY star Catherine Shipton spoke to The Jitty this week about her latest theatre role and gave advice for wannabe actors.
The interview came just days before Catherine comes to the Curve, Leicester [from September 21], with the touring Agatha Christie Theatre Company with their production of Spider’s Web.
The mum-of-one is used to playing serious characters so this latest role seemed daunting at first but since the tour started in January, Catherine, has found new depths to her talent.She said: “I play Mildred Peake, an eccentric gardener, at this 1950s home which is the centre of the murder-mystery story. I can’t give too much away because there’s a revelation about my character in the play but she’s over-bearing, out-spoken and quite a comical character.“I played Duffy in Casualty who was a very real-life person with a lot of troubles. This play has opened up doors to comedy roles which I hope to explore.”
The tale begins with Clarissa, the wife the wife of an esteemed politician, who uncovers a dead body in her drawing-room. In the midst of shocked reactions from her house-guests, it becomes clear that not all of them are as innocent as they seem. With her diplomat husband and his VIP government guest on their way, Clarissa finds herself in a desperate race against time to unveil the murderer before they and the police arrive and arrest her as the prime suspect.
Catherine, who grew up in south London, spoke about the struggle of juggling an acting career with her role as mum to eight-year-old Tallulah. The 52-year-old said: “When she was born I took about three years out from acting but instead I took-up a PGCE in drama and English and did a bit of teaching. That way I was able to still use my skills and talents and be around for Tallulah.”She added: “As she got older I discussed with my partner Chris about how it was going to work with me going back into acting. It was ok when doing TV jobs because I could be in London for a couple of days and then it was done. This production has been my first tour since she was born and it has been hard. I sat Tallulah down and we spoke about it. On some of the tour stops I’ve hired cottages and the family have been together. I speak to her about three times every day so I’m always around for her.”
Catherine, who originally wanted to pursue a career in journalism, was thrust into the limelight after being picked for the role of nurse Duffy in the primetime BBC drama Casualty between 1986-93, 1998 and 2004.
She said: “My family were devastated when I didn’t go to uni but instead I was following my instinct. But then one day I got the call and despite the fact I was a new face on the block Casualty took a gamble on me.”Catherine has also had parts in The Bill, Doctors, One Foot in the Grave and a cameo in the film Spiceworld as a nurse. Catherine, whose idols include Jack Lemon and Meryl Streep, said she’s excited about coming to Leicester for the first time ever. She said: “I’ve heard so much about the new Curve theatre and the photos on the web look fantastic. I’m looking forward to performing in the new space.” Catherine will be performing alongside ITV’s Soldier Soldier star Ben Nealon as well as West End actors Bruce Montague and Mark Wynter. The tour concludes in November after which Catherine hopes to develop a one woman show to perform at theatres close to her London home.
When asked what tips she would give to wannabe actors Catherine said: “You have to have tough skin because you have to be able to take the knock backs. And one of the most important things is to listen to yourself. If you truly know who you are and are happy with yourself only then can you play other roles well.”
She added: “Be true to yourself. All the greats have become greats because they’ve made it themselves. Don’t just try and mimic someone else’s style make your own. Find your unique selling point.“And finally never give up. Keep on holding on to your dream and you’ll succeed.”
The production at Leicester’s Curve Theatre will run from September 21 to 26. Performances at 7.30pm and 2.15 pm matinees on Wednesday and Saturday. Tickets cost between £9 - £22.For more information phone 0116 242 3595 or visit www.curveonline.co.uk.