Actress Allyson Ava-Brown speaks to Theatrefullstop about her latest role in Ché Walker’s The Etienne Sisters!
Theatre Royal Stratford East are getting set for their autumn season, where they’ll witness Ché Walker’s, The Etienne Sister‘s take over the East London stage for the next month. A family drama placing the spotlight on three fiery characters, the production promises an evening of hard truths, confrontations and an original soundtrack. Ahead of the production’s opening night, Theatrefullstop were lucky enough to speak to actress and singer Allyson Ava-Brown, who plays Bo, about working with her fellow cast members, whether she identifies with Bo, and what it’s like working with Ché Walker!
Hi Allyson! The Etienne Sisters is set to show at Theatre Royal Stratford East in September, how are you feeling ahead of the first show?
I am extremely excited about sharing this piece with everyone. It’s very dear to me so amidst the usual pre-show panic I am incredibly proud to be a part of it!
You’ll be starring as Bo. Could you describe her character?
Bo is a law unto herself! Without giving too much away there are many facets to her personality making her quite a tricksy and sometimes dangerous character to deal with.
Do you identify with the character of Bo at all?
On the surface me and Bo appear to be polar opposites of each other. Nothing about us is alike so it is quite a journey for me. But there is something about her that I really connect with on an emotional level. She is also not a million miles away from various characters throughout my life so she is very familiar to me.
The production sees you working with 2 other actresses, how do you find working with the other cast members?
I am really enjoying working with the other actresses (Nina Toussaint White and Jennifer Saayeng) and Pianist (Nikki Yeoh). They are incredible and I consider it a real privilege to be building this piece alongside them.
Could you explain the rehearsal process?
I always knew this would be an epic process. Chè always creates a great environment for you to create without stress or judgement which is so important but often neglected in the rehearsal room so is a pleasure to have that here.
The production places 3 female characters at the forefront. Do you believe that there are enough strong female character roles in the theatre world?
Of course there are less strong female characters in theatre in comparison with our male counterparts so hurray for writers that are giving birth to more! And may we continue to be blessed with the opportunities to play them.
The production is written and directed by Ché Walker, how do you find working with him?
I love working with Chè. You really feel like you’re getting something out of your time in the rehearsal room that you can take with you which is not always the case.
The production also includes music by Anoushka Lucas, how important is the role of music within the show?
Music is incredibly important in this piece. It sets the tone for the whole play. I have said it before and I’ll say it again! I want the album! Anoushka Lucas and Sheila Atim have done an amazing job with the songs and I relish the chance to sing music that really speaks to my soul.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Get involved in everything whether you think you can or not, work bloody hard and grow a thick skin!
Interview by Lucy Basaba.
The Etienne Sisters will be showing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East from Thirsday 10th September until Saturday 3rd October. For more information on the production, visit here…