The Woman in Black
Thank you for talking to Theatre South East today.
Last month you made your West End debut in one of London’s most famous plays ‘The Woman in Black’ how are you finding the role so far?
It’s a bit of a dream come true to be honest. I’ve seen the play a few times over the years and it’s one I’ve always wanted to have a go at. It’s such a well-written script and very rewarding to perform. I’m loving every minute!
The Woman in Black is a two-hander play, there are an awful lot of lines to learn. How did you go about learning them?
Repetition, repetition, repetition. I’ve never really been daunted by learning lines, I don’t tend to think of it that way. I learn the thoughts. That being said I won’t learn it all in one go, I’ll carve up some of the larger speeches into manageable chunks and learn those until I can piece it all back together again. It took me about 4 weeks to get off book.
You must have to have a great amount of respect and trust in Richard Hope who plays opposite you. You play very different characters on stage, but off are you quite similar in your process?
To be honest, when I found out I was going to be working with Richard I was quite nervous! He has a tremendous amount of experience and has had a very successful and diverse career. He has worked with some wonderful people. But I needn’t have been, he has been incredibly generous and supportive and I have already learnt so much from him. Our processes are quite different but they do compliment each other. I tend to do a lot of research and like to fine-tune moments, Richard loves to be spontaneous, which is great fun to play opposite and certainly keeps me on my toes. We trust each other completely.
You played the same role last year when ‘The Woman in Black’ was on tour. Do you have any funny stories or a favourite venue from the tour?
I played it for 1 week only in Dubai at the Madinat Theatre. It was a very different experience. The main difference was the heat, it was 40 degrees outside and we were on stage in coats and hats talking about fog and rain! It was an amazing place to visit.
The Fortune Theatre is meant to have its own resident ghost. Have you met any theatre ghosts and do you believe in the supernatural at all?
I believe that buildings can take on emotions good or bad, especially old ones that have witnessed so many things over the years. The Fortune is a wonderful theatre and so apt for the play. It was built in the 1920’s and everywhere you look there are the echoes of a bygone era and faded glamour and sophistication. There is something spooky about it, especially when it’s empty. I’ve been warming up on stage alone before and felt I was being watched…
‘The Woman in Black’ has been in the West End for almost 30 years! What do you think makes a good ghost story?
Imagination. It’s what we don’t see that really scares us. A good ghost story is all about creating an atmosphere, setting the scene, giving your audience just enough information so that their own imagination can fill in the gaps. It’s proper around the campfire sort of stuff really. The stories that stay with you are the ones you help create yourself.
What are you afraid of?
Forgetting my lines! 😋
Thank you once again for answering our questions, one last one…Why should people come to see The Woman in Black?
It’s unique in its simplicity. That’s not to say there is not much to it. It’s so much more than a Ghost story. You go on a journey with these two characters who are forever changed by the experience you share with them. It’s thrilling exhilarating and heartbreaking and it will make you jump!!!!
Mark Hawkins can be seen playing ‘The Actor’ in The Woman in Black at The Fortune Theatre.
Currently booking until January 2019