Kate Anthony and Steve Huison return to Northern Broadsides for When We Are Married
- Credit: ©Nobby Clark Photographer
Rob Gemmell spoke to actors Kate Anthony and Steve Huison about why they chose to return to Yorkshire based theatre company, Northern Broadsides, how theatre has changed over the years and what it was like appearing in possibly the biggest ever phenomenon on television.
Kate Anthony has a very impressive acting CV with performances on stage, film, television and radio. She is perhaps best known for her role as Pam Hobsworth in Coronation Street which she played for four years. She had recently appeared in the Broadsides performance of ‘Rutherford and Sons’ and enjoyed her time doing so. Kate continues, “I then went off to do some TV work and I received a call from Barrie Rutter (founder of Northern Broadsides) who told me that he was interested in performing the J.B. Priestley play, ’When We Are Married.’ I told him that I would love to do it as it is one of my favourite plays and it is so brilliantly written.” Kate plays the role of Clara Soppit. “Mrs Soppit is an absolute joy to play. She’s fantastic, she’s vile! They are always the best characters to play! She is bossy, domineering and opinionated and she treats her husband appallingly and shouts him down at the end of every sentence, but, as you will see in the play, the tables are soon turned. J.B Priestley has so much depth to his writing and the characters can be played on so many levels and I loved the fact that I could have a good bossing of everyone!”
Kate spoke fondly of her experiences working with director Barrie Rutter. “He’s a great director and great fun to work with. He’s a character. I first worked with him in ‘Rutherford and Sons’ and he was in the show. I had heard all these stories about him shouting at everyone, but he was a joy to work with.” The pair of both very supportive of each other’s work. “I have seen Barrie in plays and Barrie has seen me in plays. He is a very talented man and very deserved of his OBE which I believe came later than it should have done.”
The diversity of Kate’s roles and the versatility of her skill has even seen her appear in one of the most popular series on television, Game of Thrones. “It was mad, completely bonkers!” Kate laughs. “I have never seen it before and when my agent called to tell me that they wanted me to audition I asked him what the part was and he didn’t know! I arrived at the audition and had to sign a disclosure form agreeing that I wouldn’t reveal anything about the show. When I got the role I was sent a link to a website which I had to go to in order to download the script. They told you all you needed to know for your character and scenes and that was it. So, I still don’t understand what it’s all about! It was a great experience though. We spent two weeks filming in the beautiful surroundings of Girona in Spain.” From Game of Thrones, Kate’s work then took her to radio and then onto a musical. “It’s nice to do a little bit of everything,” Kate continues. “To have that diversity and to enjoy each medium that I am in is important as an actor.”
Kate’s career has spanned over a number of years and over time comes change. “Theatre has changed hugely over the years. When I first left drama school there was so much theatre you could do or you could see because there were so many more companies around and people could afford to put on plays. Nowadays It is so much harder and theatres do struggle. It is great that Northern Broadsides can be so bold in their choices and perform plays with a large cast. It is a massive expense to them, but it’s nice to see a show with a big cast as you only get those in musicals nowadays. It is also hard for actors as well today. When I left drama school 30 years ago they still had working reps so you went straight out into theatres and learnt the trade that way.”
Kate is hoping to return to television after the play has finished and keep close to home to help support her daughter who will be sitting her GCSE’s. “I will be there to support her morally!” Kate quips. “At the moment though I am enjoying rehearsals. It’s great because there are so many of us in the cast that have worked with each other before. The difficulty is getting us to get on with rehearsals as we’re all too busy chatting!”
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Steve Huison is a man of many talents. Much like Kate, Steve’s career has expanded through a variety of different genre’s, including appearing as Eddie Windass in Coronation Street as well as roles in successful British movies including “When Saturday Comes” and “The Full Monty”. Much like Kate, Steve was very familiar with Northern Broadsides as he explains. “I have worked with Northern Broadsides for several performances and was even part of the original company set up in 1992. I’d not worked with them for a number of years and I got a call from Barrie Rutter asking if I wanted to appear in the play. It was the thought of working in the theatre again and the familiar territory of working with Barrie and also some of the cast with whom I have worked with before which appealed to me. I’ve been working for a mental health organisation for the last 18 months or so and pulling pints in pubs, so it was nice to get back onto the stage.”
Steve plays the role of Herbert Soppit and admits he is still working on the character. “I’m not making too many fast decisions regarding how to portray the role as we are still in rehearsals at the moment. I would describe the character as hen pecked, quite bright, but at the bottom end of the pecking order. He is astute, sharp and not daft and he has his stand after being completely crushed all the way through the play, so he has the chance to say his bit. It’s a nice comic role.”
Steve takes pride in his work and particularly in the way he plays characters and the experiences he uses. “I’ll watch and observe people to prepare for a role. You can get ideas from people around you, the public, people that you know, crowds, people on trains, people with similar character traits. The physicality, how people move. I take everything like that to sculpt it into a character.”
Steve’s career has been a very successful one and he can deservedly take pride in his work. Despite appearing in some of Britain’s biggest TV show and biggest films he says that theatre would probably always be his first love, although admittedly, he is quite happy just to be acting. Steve’s skills actually stretch beyond acting as he goes on to explain.” I took myself out of acting for a couple of years as I felt I needed a break from it. I was doing it too much and I wasn’t able to see it clearly anymore.” He found a love of art and has recently been doing a lot of painting and drawing which have had their own exhibition at the Pyramid Gallery in Stonegate, York. Steve is also keeping himself in the theatre in other guises. “I am a co-founder of The Shoestring Forum Theatre. We perform work around the topics of mental health issues – it effects everybody in some sort of way. The purpose is to tell stories and to get people to associate with these illnesses - Depressions, breakdowns and even psychotic.”
Steve shares the same views regarding the theatre as Kate. “There is less theatre now than there was 30 years ago. I first got involved in theatre in the 1980’s when I worked for a theatre in education company which involved taking work out to schools, but that got cut in around 1990. The problem is that some people don’t understand the theatre and actors who perform on the stage. It is a difficult job to do as you have to expose a lot of yourself to people. It’s really quite courageous. There are a lot of people want to be actors, but there is very little work around, so the competition is stiffer. There are a lot of great, young actors out there, so the Important thing is to keep working.”
Steve also still continues to showcase his comedic talents. “I organise some fund raising cabarets called ‘Cabaret Saltaire’ in Saltaire. I’ve done it regularly and it hasn’t stopped over the last few years. We have lots of different acts on all based on comedy and music. I play a variety of different characters. It’s good fun and it sells out quickly.” But for now, Steve is looking forward to his return to the stage.
As are we.
“When We Are Married” opens at the York Theatre Royal on September 9th.
For the full list of tour dates visit www.northern-broadsides.co.uk