“You might not find your Romeo , but you’ll find your Kevin, or your Brian.. “
This years season of Chester Perform’s Park open air theatre has concluded. Before the final run of shows, Jessica Clark (Juliet and other roles) took time out of her busy schedule for an interview with Kate Northcott in the “historic” Cafe Nero.
“Both my parents are in the industry, so my mum is an actress.. She was in The Bill for 8 years, but she now does a lot more theatre work in London. My dad’s a theatre photographer, so I didn’t really have a choice! That was the world I was engrossed in, for the whole of my childhood. That’s how I was introduced to the industry as a baby really”
Jessica studied drama at Hull university , and got an agent after graduation. ” I had never had the strong desire to go to a drama school . Since I got an agent out of Hull, I just thought “let’s get on with the business”, learning on the job is the best training you can possibly do” she says
Her first professional role, TV programme about Charles II … “I was 20-21 something like that. I had done lots of national youth theatre before that”
Acting inspirations ? “Partly because mum and dad were in the industry, a lot of it was friends of my parents, actors in ensembles. going in rehearsal rooms as a seven-year old with my dad and watching actors working. crafting, being part of an ensemble. Inspired me..”that’s exactly what I want to do ” ” she recalls.
” I was lucky enough to be in the season last year. We did three shows last year, the Secret Garden, Macbeth, and the Comedy of Errors, . That was my first introduction to Chester, and Chester performs and Grosvenor Park . I was lucky enough to be invited back this year, to do the three shows this year. ” This season, Jess played 5 or 6 roles, “quite tame I think, compared to last year when I had 10 roles, something mad like that. In the dressing room is a rack of endless costumes!”
Of the casting process Jessica says that : “it depends on the season. Last year there was quite a heavy focus on music, the wonderful Sarah Travis was the musical director on Secret Garden last year, there was singing involved and musical instruments, bit of puppetry… it sort of varies, depending on the asks of the season. Whats nice is it feels like a community of actors, but every year each production is cast differently, but sometimes actors are invited back I don’t know if you remember the twins? They were in the season two years ago with midsummer nights dream but they came back last year for Comedy of Errors”
She is full of praise for Chester Perfoms… “Its been wonderful. I adore Alex Clifton (artistic director ) I think he’s a wonderful person as well as director. I think the company as a whole from all the wonderful people in the office to their incredible front of house tea. Everybody is really wonderful, really welcoming, it’s like coming home this season” She says the company are very close knit: “We all go out together ! We spend a lot of time in the Marlborough, we have found some lovely restaurants that we go and eat in
“I love Chester, its beautiful. I love the history, I love you can walk the walls, I love that the clock is back, because when we arrived and the clock was covered up, it was like “game over!” she laughs. ” I really love the restaurants, I’m a big fan of Prohibition, the groves…. it’s just lovely, and also you’re so close to Wales, you can cross over and go to the seaside. And also that you’re so close to wonderful cities like Liverpool and Manchester.
Some questions from followers :
Dan Schott “what tunes are you into ?”
“I have a really wide eclectic music that I love listen to . I love funk and soul, I also have my mum and dad’s influences, so I love Joni Mitchell, Beatles.. But I also like mad pop music as I’m sure everyone has guilty pleasures, a really wide mix”
Julia Murphy : What do you think of having a Scottish Romeo ?
“I’m really jealous of his beautiful accent. I really wanted to do Juliet as Scottish, because the verse just sounds so beautiful . I think it would have been slightly strange to have Romeo and Juliet as Scottish and no one else ! He’s a lovely human being, its lovely having such a nice Romeo to work with, because it’d be a nightmare if he were horrible!
Mark Williams If you could have one superpower what would it be ?
“I often think this! I think, its either flying or teleporting. Teleporting, sometimes late at night, when its four in the morning, and you’re walking home after a few glasses of wine, and all you want is your bed.
Hannah Golightly: Do you think stories like Romeo and Juliet affect young girls ideas about relationships ?
“What I love about Romeo and Juliet is that there are so many elements of the play, like so many Shakespeares, that are still relevant today…. with us playing Romeo and Juliet as the ages that they are originally written, so 13-14. I think so many of the things that happen are because of their age. That intensity of feeling when you’re that age, and not knowing any different, and collapsing into despair because you have nothing to compare it with . I think in terms of expectations of what life is like , as a 13 year old , that is how you feel. But maybe in terms of finding “the one” I dont think I believe in that ..I think there are so many human beings in the world, you could have so many “ones” In terms of the star crossed lovers , expectation… I think that is sometimes a bit difficult for young people. You might not find your Romeo , but you’ll find your Kevin, or your Brian..
What has been the most memorable thing you’ll take away from this season?
“The joy of playing Juliet.. It was a part I thought had passed me by. I’m definitely not 13, add quite a few more years onto that !” she laughs “There are roles that have a timeline.. and I thought that this one had gone and it was one I had always wanted to play. So I think the joy of getting to meet her and also making her my own…
Biggest challenge of the season ?
” The verse, the muscularity of the verse is hard work ,and also trying not get completely exhausted. We’re all shattered… but also still absolutely loving it. ”
The new theatre :
Jessica is ” so excited, its an incredible project.. not only are their two theatres, but a library and a cinema.. It does feel like a city that craves culture, when we come in the summer, people do enjoy the shows. I think getting the new building will be fantastic. Alex keeps telling us little things about the plans, we keep getting tweets of the structure going up , its really exciting for Chester!”
Thanks to Jessica and Kate