Interview: Wearing two hats with her new play - acting is the dream but writing keeps Felicity Huxley-Miners sane
Felicity Huxley-Miners talks about writing and acting in her new play In The Shadow of The Mountain, juggling the two roles and what her dream theatre production would be like (hint: it would have a big cast).
The new play (more details at the bottom) is a love story about two people with Borderline Personality Disorder inspired by her meeting a woman with BPD and the production is supported by MIND.
You’ve written the play and you are also performing in it alongside David Shears, did you always have yourself in mind when you were writing?
Yes, I knew I wanted to play Ellie when I was writing but I really had to shut off that part of my brain when I was creating the play as you can start to censor and shape it around yourself instead of being true to a character and their story.
Thinking ‘I don’t want to say that’ or worrying about your character being likeable can be quite limiting so I really had to shut off that side of my brain.
I’ve found being an actor does help me write, as both are all about getting into different people’s heads and working out what makes them tick.
Which do you prefer - writing or acting - and which do you find the most challenging?
Acting has always been the dream and what I’ve funnelled most of my energy into over the years.
I’ve only started writing in the last few years and have been lucky enough to be a part of the Soho Theatre’s Writers Lab this year. I’ve found writing incredibly cathartic.
Acting can be a very perilous career and a lot of time the control is taken out of the actor’s hands.
Being proactive and creating my own work has really kept me sane in the leaner times and means that I always have a creative outlet even if it's just me sitting in a café having vivid hallucinations about my own fantasy world.
I really like being in the rehearsal room as both. Before I walk in I have to accept that I haven’t written a novel, it’s a play which means I have to give up control to a large degree.
I have to hand it over to actors who will bring their own personalities and life experiences to the characters which will only make them richer and a director who has a creative vision which outstrips what I’ve been able to put on paper.
Sometimes it’s hard to see great scores of words which seemed so important and cost so much to write edited out but that’s the process and I need to step away and trust the people I'm working with to do their jobs.
What would your dream theatre production look like?
My dream scenario is always a big-ish cast. I love watching relationships and a load of varied dynamics play out on stage.
Strong female characters are always important to me and I try to make everything cast as gender, race, background and disability blind as possible.
The Bridge theatre is a fantastic new venue and the National has always been somewhere I’ve aspired to, as they’re so supportive of new work and I’d have the luxury of lots of R&D time and all the National’s resources for research and dramaturgy.
I’ve loved being a part of Soho Writer’s Lab and I would love to take a show there as I’m seeing first hand just how nurturing and supportive they are of new work and the diversity of programming that goes on in that building is incredible!
Josie Rourke has always been a director I’ve been really keen to work with and after seeing Emma Rice’s season at the Globe last year she is also on the (admittedly, quite extensive) list.
More about In The Shadow of the Mountain and where you can see it
Rob (David Shears) stands on the edge of oblivion just as the chaotic Ellie (Felicity Huxley-Miners) careers into his life.
They desperately need each other but is Ellie, who’s struggling with her own Borderline Personality Disorder, really the best person to try and help?
Sometimes you can only save one person. And it’s okay if that person is you.
In The Shadow of the Mountain explores a relationship born in the throes of a mental health crisis as a couple struggles to find their place in the world.
Felicity and the production team is also working with mental health charity MIND to raise money and awareness about mental health conditions.
See it at the Old Red Lion Theatre May 15 - June 2.