A View From The Bridge is a classic play – one of my very favourites. The Arthur Miller hit is coming to York Theatre Royal from 20th September – 12th October – a long run but sure to be a successful one.
I was lucky enough to gain access to Q&A with two of the show’s stars, Lili Miller and Pedro Leandro. Lili plays Catherine and Pedro plays Rodolpho. Find out more about their background as actors, their characters and this production…
Have you appeared in an Arthur Miller play before?
LM: No. I recently saw the production of All My Sons at the Old Vic and that’s what introduced me properly to Arthur Miller.
PL: No. I graduated from Bristol Old Vic theatre school last year and remember thinking earlier this year that I would love, if I got the opportunity, to do an Arthur Miller so when this came along I was thrilled. I had seen the NT Live screening of the Ivo Van Hove production as Eddie before I decided to go to drama school and I think – in a romanticised time line – that was one of the things that made me go, ‘That’s what I want to do, I want to do that’.
Have you worked with any of the cast or creatives?
LM: No, but I’d met Juliet (Forster, A View from the Bridge director) and was thrilled to have the chance to work with her. She immediately makes you feel comfortable and is such a good listener and so insightful into each character.
Describe your character
LM: I really, really love Catherine. There are so many layers to the whole play. There’s so much to discover about their world and Catherine. The thing I like about her is she’s so loving and, as Beatrice says in the play, she really likes people. We meet her in the play where the ground underneath her feet is shifting. She loves her aunt and uncle a lot. She has been protected from a rough world. We meet her at a point where she desperately wants to get a job, earn money and be independent. Then Rodolpho arrives and it’s like another world enters her home. It’s a massive explosion in her life.
PL: He’s a sweetheart really. Charming and lovely, and at a place in the environment of A View from the Bridge where he aspires to more. He doesn’t seem to belong there. He’s into cooking, and art, and sewing and stuff and that’s really not appropriate for the world he’s in. He is a good worker, though, a lovely guy, he’s a dreamer, a romantic.
What’s your most recent acting job?
LM: My first ever acting job was a small part in Gangs of London, which will be on Sky Atlantic next year. A View from the Bridge is my first professional theatre job.
PL: I did an episode of Hanna on Amazon Prime and before that a Netflix show called The Liberator. It’s mainly TV stuff but I’m fresh off the boat.
Did you always want to be an actor?
LM: I decided when I was 16 that I really cared about it after going to speech and drama classes. My parents and I looked around for a school where I could do drama at sixth form level. I had never realised you could do it as a job. On the first day of class the acting teacher asked ‘What’s the thing that everyone has seen that they loved most?’ and I had only ever seen one play. Then I went to uni – someone told me they did lots of acting at Cambridge and I went there to study Education, English and Drama. That’s where I had the chance to act in and see lots of plays. From there I went to LAMDA drama school.
What was your most recent non-acting job?
LM: Before I went to drama school I worked for an international development charity working with education in South East Asia.
PL: It was ridiculous but I did it for a bit of money – I had to pretend to be one of the royal guardsmen with a big busby at a corporate party. I had to stand motionless for a couple of hours. I thought it would be easy but that hat was so heavy and dug into my skull. Usually I invigilate exams and do reception work. Being a guardsman was an exception that I won’t be doing again. I did language-sitting for young kids when I was a teenager. Their parents wanted them to learn Spanish – so I would babysit and teach them Spanish at the same time.
Director Juliet Forster talks about ‘a very mixed cast in terms of ethnicity and nationality’ – tell us about your background.
LM: Bit of Welsh, bit of Danish, bit of English. I am from Plymouth and my grandad worked on the docks so I feel a connection to waterfronts. In terms of migrancy, everyone knows what it’s like to experience the dual nature of humans where you absolutely love difference and at the same time are fearful of it. In this play, the Italians embody that difference. A View from the Bridge is quite a private story about a community but the consequences are huge. As humans we are persuaded by individual narratives. For example, an individual’s story can ripple through the internet and shift millions of people’s view on quite a political level. It’s really important we tell individual narratives because they’re persuasive and create change, hopefully for the better.
PL: My Mum is Spanish and my dad is Portuguese but quite a complicated version of Portuguese. He grew up in Angola where his family had been for generations but they were Portuguese nationals because Angola was Portuguese at the time. I grew up in Brussels mainly, as well as Washington DC, and Harare for a couple of years. I think of my identity as mainly European particularly because I went to the European School. I identify so much with Rodolpho because of that wanting to be where he is. He’s so excited about America and that’s really how I feel about being here. With all the stuff
going on I applied for settled status this year. I could live somewhere else but I really don’t want to. My career is here and I really like it here. So I would like to stay please.
Why should people come to see A View from the Bridge?
LM:Because it’s a great play. Fundamentally you want to see stories which encourage you to look at the world slightly differently or look at yourself slightly differently. This play does that massively. It’s full of empathy and is just so generous to each individual. I’ve not come across a play that is so generous in the way it loves each character.
PL: The play speaks for itself. It’s very current and not just the themes of immigration but masculinity, mental health and what it means to be gender non-conforming. We have assembled a cast with very interesting backgrounds. People have some really interesting personal things to say about what immigration means to them and seeing that story come alive is going to be quite cool.
Don’t miss the fantastic production when it arrives at York Theatre Royal very soon!
Photograph credited to Chris Payne