An interview with Joanne Seymour who plays Sharon in Sharon ‘n’ Barry Do ‘Romeo & Juliet

It’s the last week of rehearsals for Sharon ‘n’ Barry Do ‘Romeo & Juliet’, our up-coming new everyday comedy which previews this Thursday. We had a chat with Joanne Seymour who plays Sharon. She gives us an insight into rehearsals, her character and why people who reside in Essex will especially enjoy the show. How are rehearsals going? Really good. It’s starting to come together and look like a piece.  It’s been very, very hard work but it’s enjoyable and I’m loving being at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch for the first time. How does preparing a show for Zoom compare to your experiences of rehearsing a show for the stage? It feels very different, like a hybrid between TV/film and theatre. Your instinct is to act for the theatre because it’s a play, but you need to be conscious that what you’re acting to is the size of a television screen. It’s exciting. Have there been any surprises/differences that you weren’t expecting from performing a show on Zoom? You don’t need to be as big, so you need to try and remember to hold back a little bit which in this piece, is quite difficult because we’re playing characters with large personalities. That’s been quite a challenge! It’s a strange one as you know that the audience are watching the show live, but it feels like a TV show. It’s an odd feeling but a good and refreshing one. Have there been any specific challenges that have come up during rehearsals? We’ve created the roles of Sharon and Barry from scratch so that’s been amazing. It’s been challenging but very enjoyable. We developed and created everything that they are saying during the rehearsal process. There wasn’t a script at the beginning of rehearsals, just a concept. Everything has been improvised in the rehearsal room with the guidance of Douglas Rintoul, the Director. It’s been a great experience devising those characters from scratch. It’s felt natural, we’ve been able to get into character quite quickly. The characters now feel like an extension of ourselves. It’s been very different to work with the Shakespearian language, which you need to be exact with, against the complete improvisation of Sharon and Barry’s lines. You use both disciplines which has been motivating. What’s been your favourite part of the process so far? Devising Sharon and Barry. Plus, I love Shakespeare! Although Sharon and Barry aren’t that good at Shakespeare, it’s been wonderful for me as an actor to play Juliet. It really has! I never thought I’d get the chance in my fifties so that’s been an incredible feat for me! What are your feelings about performing to a Zoom audience? Yeah… strange. I can’t imagine really. As I said, they’re going to be live and we’re going to be able to see them, but we won’t obviously get the feedback that you’d get in a live theatre, so I don’t know how that’s going to feel. I can’t even imagine. I’ve got a feeling it might be a bit nerve racking, but we’ll go with it. Can you tell me about your character Sharon? She’s wonderful! She’s a very confident person, she’s very secure in her own skin. She’s lovely, a proper salt of the earth Essex lady. I’m from Essex myself and I think that she’s a good representation of the County. A very positive representation! She’s a much more confident version of me. The very fact that she’s taking on this absurd idea to perform Romeo and Juliet as a Zoom performance shows that she’s fearless. She’s nervous at the beginning but fundamentally I think she’s a confident woman with her own business. She’s a good character to play. You mentioned that you’re from Essex. Which part are you from? Yes, I’m Essex born and bred. I’ve lived in Southend on and off. I’ve lived in Romford and then London for a bit, but I’ve been back in Southend since 1996. Why should people book to see the show? I think that particularly for Essex people, they’ll recognise Essex in the piece. I think it’s a bit of fun, it’s something totally different. You don’t need to know anything about Shakespeare to enjoy the show but if you do enjoy Shakespeare, that’s bonus as you’ll get the best of both worlds. I don’t think it’ll be like anything else you’ll have seen.

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