Interview: Summer Strallen on her forthcoming appearance in Hysteria at Buxton Opera House
Summer Strallen plays Jessica in London Classic Theatre's national tour of Hysteria coming to Buxton later this month.
The farcical play imagines for stage the bizarre meeting of Salvador Dali and Sigmund Freud during World War Two.
Summer Strallen has had a varied, successful career in theatre and television, with appearances on Hollyoaks and Land Girls as well as West End appearances in Love Never Dies, Top Hat and The Drowsy Chaperone. Summer has been nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards. Here she talks about the show and her career as a whole.
What drew you to the character of Jessica?
In my career I am always looking for a challenge and what Jessica goes through is certainly that. Without giving too much away, the issues she brings to Sigmund Freud are extremely complex and confusing, so having the opportunity to try to unravel them and unpick the labyrinth of her mind has been extremely satisfying.
Where do you start when first approaching a new role?
Well…that depends on the role. I try to read the play as many times as possible before rehearsals start and learn as much as I can, but I come from a movement background so find it easier to learn lines when I am up on my feet in the rehearsal space. Once I have a ‘mind map’ of where I am on the stage while I’m saying something it really helps solidify the words in my brain.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I suffer with terrible nerves at the beginning of a run but, after a while, that subsides and I can enjoy it more. To help at the start of a run I do EFT which is Emotional Freedom Training. It helps me get rid of any nerves or negative thoughts that might fly around my head. The worst critics I’ve ever come across have been my own thoughts so I have to keep them in check. I also regularly meditate, say prayers, make wishes and do spells… whatever I feel may help me quiet down the voices in my head! Most people have them, I’m just willing to admit it!
What do you have in your dressing room?
If I can, I usually have my two dogs, Bam Bam and Pebbles, with me but if the theatre doesn’t allow them in, I will always try to have my Neal’s Yard Essential oils diffuser with a collection of oils next to it. Also, my Dr Nelson’s steamer in case my voice is tired. I’ll also have a towel, flannel, tissues and any make-up I might need. And a mug! Moray Treadwell (Dr Abraham Yahuda) has already assigned himself as tea monitor for the interval!
What’s the first thing you do when you get offstage at the end of a show?
Take my hair out if it is up, if not, probably just wash my face and get ready to go home.
What are your memories of the very first time you stepped in a stage?
I don’t really have a memory of first stepping on a stage because I was so young when I started performing and before I could really take stock it had already just become second nature to be on one. I’m sure there is some footage of it floating around somewhere!
What have been your career highlights?
Career highlight for sure is getting to kiss Ewan McGregor for eight months when I was his dance partner in The Donmar production of Guys and Dolls. I’m sure me kissing him is top of his list too!! Haha!
What advice would you give any young women starting out in this very overcrowded profession today?
Listen to your positive self, whether that be in meditation, exercise, prayer, cycling whatever way you find it easy to connect to and hear your voice within. In this increasingly fast -paced world, take the time to just BE in silence with yourself so you can really hear your true heart’s desire.
Summer Strallen will appear in Hysteria from Thursday, February 16 to Saturday, February 18 at Buxton Opera House. Tickets are priced from £18 to £20 and discounts are available. To buy tickets call the box office on 01298 72190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk