Hi Alice. How does it feel returning to the London stage after such a long time?

Quite daunting and a great challenge. But PERSONA is a fascinating, complex script and the team surrounding the production is wonderful. Also Studio 3 at the Riverside Studios is an intensely intimate space - which will either be terrifying or exhilarating!


What attracted you most to this production of Persona?

Ingmar Bergman writes of PERSONA that he felt this was the furtherest he could go as a creative - he digs deeply into the psyche of two women, exploring their interior landscape and the very nature of consciousness. All of this framed by the character of the narrator who leads the audience into the story with Bergman’s own directions, private notes and exploration of the creative process itself.

So it is rich and compelling territory!

Also Paul Schoolman invited William Close, William Close - the renowned installation artist, musician and composer - to join the production playing the Earth Harp, his signature instrument. The Earth Harp which William created, is the largest stringed instrument on the planet! William and the base of the Earth harp will be on stage with the strings travelling out over the audience turning the theatre into the instrument and wrapping the audience in its magical sound. He becomes the fourth voice in the piece. It will be extraordinarily exciting for us as actors and I think the audience as well to be inside this dialogue.


What did preparation for the role involve?

I went with the adaptor and director, Paul Schoolman, and one of the translators, Emilia Bostedt, to research in Bergman’s house on Faro in the Baltic. The Bergman Estate is owned by the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and is open on request to artists who are on study sabbatical or in fact studying Bergman. It was privileged insight into Bergman himself.

I have obviously watched his films and read as much about him as possible.


What is your Ingmar Bergman's favourite work?

There are too many to choose only one!
PERSONA of course. ( Interestingly, the original manuscript from which we are working, differs in some quite significant ways from the film of PERSONA). Also SHAME, AUTUMN SONATA, FANNY AND ALEXANDER, CRIES AND WHISPERS - the list goes on!


I understand that for the character of The Narrator, Bergman’s voice will be used - for the first time - and the script is based on some of his unseen notes and words. How is it to "work with" Bergman? And how are the rehearsals going with the rest of the cast?

A masterly writer and director in both film and theatre, Bergman’s a great challenge, often asking you to explore the most intense areas of human experience. Also the way he uses language, even in translation, to lead you into a character’s inner life is extraordinary.


You have been working in films and TV for quite a while. Why did you stay away from theatre work?

I haven’t deliberately stayed away from the theatre - according to my agent whenever there’s been an availability check for me for a play I’ve been working on an extended TV series like 'The OA' or 'CARNIVAL ROW'. I very much hope this production opens up theatre work again and that I’m able to work in the theatre more frequently.


How do you think your TV work influences your theatre performance (and vice versa)?

That’s hard to say - articularly as I haven’t worked in the theatre for some time, so I’m about to find out! But on a deep level it’s the same process, articulated or manifested in different ways. Rather than one influencing the other, I think the process of just keeping working on a wide variety of scripts and stories with huge creative input from many talented people over years is what has had the greatest influence on how I work.


What kind of dialogue do you think there is between the two industries, for an artist?

Hard to generalise. I have been fortunate to work across theatre, film and TV in the UK and in film and TV in the USA. Certainly in the UK when I started working, actors worked across all the mediums, less so in America. In my experience this is changing now in the US - there is much more flow between the industries than there used to be. I think this is in part because there is so much good writing in American TV now. Also how product is marketed has changed significantly, which has had an impact, as has the fact that most large film and TV productions are now co-productions sometimes involving several countries - for example a UK/US co- production bringing together actors from many countries and all the mediums.


What excites you most about the current theatre scene in Broadway and London?

I’m afraid I’m not au fait with the theatre scene on Broadway, but it seems to me, at any rate I certainly hope that in London we have the beginning of an embrace of diversity - the more we move in this direction the richer our experience will become. 


Alice Krige stars in 'Persona'  the opening production at Riverside Studios from 21 January - 23 February.

Link here:  www.riversidestudios.co.uk


Interview: Cristiana Ferrauti            Photo: Michael Wharley