Kara Tointon admits: ‘When I first started out, I couldn’t get any theatre work’
The 33 year-old actress on her current tour of Gaslight, getting into the industry and her new TV show The Halcyon.
“I didn’t go to drama school. When I was 11, I started with an amateur dramatic society. I passer my LAMDA exams growing up and had my own lessons, so I trained in that way. It was always a dream to go to drama school, but you learn so much as you go along.
“I was 16 when I got what I thought was my first big role – in Teachers. I had gone to art college because I thought drama schools like you to have seen life. But I just kept getting jobs so I just thought: I’m just going to see how this goes”.
“Theatre was why I wanted to become an actress. But when you get an agent often they steer you in a certain direction”.
Kara went onto say: “I seemed to be sent for TV roles and never for theatre. I did say: please can I be sent for theatre. But it’s weird, you get put in a little box. I was disheartened a bit by it, but you work and get jobs and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles”.
The character of Bella, in Gaslight, is a really indulgent role for me. It’s so textually rich and there’s a lot to get your teeth into. She is a young Victorian woman, trying to make the most of her life at that time, but it was harder for women then. Today we have more freedom.
The term ‘gaslighting’ originates from the play. It’s such an interesting subject and recently we’ve been talking about gaslighting a lot. There’s been an Archers’ storyline and we are talking about Donald Trump gaslighting too. I didn’t know anything about gaslighting because I hadn’t read the play or seen the film. In everyday life we have our own agendas and without knowing it we direct our lives and the people around us in the way we want to, but where is the line drawn? The case in this play is severe, but often it’s the trivial things which are more sinister than anything else.
I couldn’t get my head around the play for a while. I loved it when I read it and then all of a sudden, in the middle of rehearsals, I wasn’t so sure. I thought: ‘Oh, what have I done?’ It’s such an odd play. It’s not like today’s writing when you are kept waiting for information. It’s a performance-based play and the pay-off is that the character of Bella gets her strength. I have been through lots of different feelings about it, but I am starting to like it again now!
I always aim to challenge myself in everything I do. I choose jobs based on what I’ve just done – so that the roles are as varied as possible. This was a real challenge and this is a tour, which you don’t always warm to, but it’s a nice length. There’s something nice about going to regional theatre. The atmosphere fascinates me. Each week you have to move on and you have to adapt to the venue and the atmosphere and the way the building is.
I’ve loved The Halcyon. It’s a sassy, fast-paced drama set in the Second World War and it’s a pity it keeps being compared to Downton Abbey. I saw the first episode at a press event, but I have always been on stage while it is on. But I don’t like watching myself when it goes out. I have to give it a moment, a few months maybe, then I’ll watch it.
Gaslight runs at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until 28 January and then continues on a UK tour.
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