Susannah gets serious with leading role in Players’ show
THE Castle Players’ autumn production of Hedda Gabler – which is staged this week – will see mum-of two Susannah Handley play the title role in Henrik Ibsen’s drama.
A part-time teacher, Ms Handley has her hands full, but says she is looking forward to the challenge of playing the lead in a story about a newlywed who feels trapped in a life she doesn’t want.
“A few people had said to me I should go for it and I wasn’t sure at all initially as I thought it was very dark and it’s a big commitment, but reading it I found it really interesting, there were some funny bits in it too,” she said.
“The character of Hedda is not how I imagined her at first. I had thought of her very much as being a sociopath but Libby Harding, our director, has been helping me to see her differently and not as the villain I thought she was.
“It has been really interesting getting to understand the intricacies of her relationship with the three men in the play. Libby sees them as all reflecting parts of Hedda.
“Tesman, her husband, is a traditionalist and academic; old flame Lovborg, a recovering alcoholic, is spontaneous, raw and emotional, while Judge Brack is flirty and twisted.
“Hedda feels she is jailed by her own circumstances, which will be reflected in the staging. Every freedom or pleasure she looks towards is gradually blocked off through the play. Domesticity is her idea of hell – it all closes in on her. She is almost like the total opposite to me.”
Ms Handley’s experience with the Castle Players started with a role as a herb seller that greeted audience members when they came to see the production of Henry V.
She then went on to perform in The Cagebirds and A Christmas Carol before assisting in various shows behind the scenes with the lighting.
Previous to this, she was in productions with the Gainford Drama Club which came to an end after moving and becoming a mum.
“I was with them for three or four years and loved it. It was all comedies, so it’s nice to do a serious play,” added Ms Handley.
“I’ve not had a lead role since I was at university so it’s a lot to get my head around. It’s very exciting, but there is a lot to learn. I nearly talked myself out of auditioning as I was so nervous.
“When I’m on stage its fine, it’s the lead up.”
Hedda Gabler will show for two nights at The Witham, Barnard Castle on Friday, November 22, and Saturday, November 23.
Tickets are available online at www.thewitham.org.uk, by phone on 01833 631107 or in person at The Witham, Barnard Castle.