Precious Little Talent?
10 Questions with Alumni Marta Kane
We talk Meisner, Middle child syndrome and Making her own work!
Why did you choose to become an actor?
Middle child syndrome. I kid! I’ve always wanted to tell stories and move
people - as a kid I spent hours imagining characters, stories and playing them
out in my head. Often I felt like I had more empathy than most of my peers,
almost too much for my own good, so I turned to books and writing to protect
myself and lived in my imagination. But I wanted the stories I was reading and
writing to come true and actually happen, which led me to acting. I think
performing finally gave my sensitivity an outlet (and probably saved me from
a psychiatric ward…)
What has been your most challenging acting role and why?
The title role in a short period film Lula, where I play a pregnant woman in
1944 Poland who has to choose between saving her unborn child or her
husband. There were technical things, like having to learn German
phonetically (as I’d never spoken it before) and portraying a pregnant woman.
There was also the fact that Lula was a true story, which brings about its own
challenges when trying to portray a real-life (and still living) character
truthfully. But the biggest challenges were emotional, getting to quite dark
places and staying in them for numerous takes. Having a super supportive
cast and crew helped make these challenges easier.
You recently appeared in ‘Precious Little Talent’, what inspired you most
about your role?
I love that Joey’s a survivor. The sheer amount of sarcasm and negativity that
come out of her mouth could make you think she’s given up on trying to
improve her - it might seem - failed life. But despite her demeanour she is
constantly on the lookout, constantly searching for that tiny thing that will
make tomorrow a little bit better than today. She never loses hope and it’s her
grit that ultimately transforms her from a girl into the woman she is by the end
of the play.
Do you have a pre-show ritual for nerves?
I make sure I’m warmed up - physically and vocally. Feeling prepared to go
on stage helps calm the nerves. I also warm up emotionally - if I’ve spent the
whole day hustling to pay my rent, walking around a city as lonely as London
and generally putting on a brave face to fit into the modern society I need to
take all the armour off before going on stage in the evening. I take time in
silence to connect to whatever I’m feeling that day, touch on the nervousness
and remind myself that I’m here for genuine connection with another human
being - my scene partner.
What brought you to The Actors’ Temple?
I had a very brief introduction to various acting techniques from one of my
tutors at Goldsmiths College in 2013 and Meisner was the one that somehow
clicked with me. I did my research and found an Introduction Course with Tom
Radcliffe, Sandy Meisner’s student, at The Actors’ Temple. That week long
course was a life- and career-changing experience. I wished I could dig
deeper and do a full two-year programme but at the time they were only
available in America. Luckily, a few weeks later the Temple announced that
they were going to start a full Meisner training course and I signed up straight
If you could play any character- who would it be and why?
Luckily, I just got a chance to play one of them - I had wanted to play Joey in
Precious Little Talent for the bigger part of four years. I think our personalities
are quite similar with one major difference - Joey grew up speaking her mind
and not caring whether she hurts others in the process while I’ve been guilty
of bottling things up and people-pleasing. I knew it would be eye-opening to
experience what it’s like to be on the opposite end of the spectrum.
There’s a lot of things about Joey I find familiar, for example her constant vibe
of ‘I’m not enough’. It’s so bad that the thought of someone liking her makes
her uncomfortable. I’ve been there, I get it. It’s hard to let someone love you
for who you are when you don’t like you. As for the future, I love playing women whose vulnerability makes them stronger. I’d love to delve into the character of Helena in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, or someone enigmatic like Natalie Dormer’s Anne
Boleyn in The Tudors.
What motivates you?
Knowing that I can help people in the audience feel acknowledged and
understood. After one of the screenings of Lula a gentleman who works with
Holocaust survivors told me through tears that we did their stories justice.
During the Precious Little Talent run I’ve heard audience members who had
lost someone to dementia (which the play deals with) saying they could relate
to Joey’s pain. It’s those moments I remember the most and they spur me on.
I want to create art that makes people feel less alone.
Was there a reason you decided to start producing your own work?
I’m not really a ‘sit around and wait’ kind of person - I believe in creating your
own opportunities. If I didn’t, I never would have moved from Poland to
London. I know this business doesn’t always allow you to play the characters
that you want to portray, often for superficial reasons, so I choose to produce
projects that I might not have the opportunity to do otherwise - because I’m a
brunette, or too ‘girly’ to play a masculine thug, or too Polish to play an
English girl on an off-West End stage.
If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?
You are enough. Nothing and no one can change that. Also, stop
daydreaming about getting a fringe, it’s a bad idea.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about training with The
Try it. You’ll know if it’s for you within the first week - and if it resonates with
you as much as it did with me, then you’ll be reaping the benefits from it for
the rest of your career.
Marta Kane is an actress and producer based in London. Since studying theatre at
Goldsmiths College and finishing her Meisner Technique training at The Actors
Temple she has worked on numerous projects, both on stage and screen. Her
portrayal of the title role in the period drama Lula has earned her a Best Actor in a
Female Role award at the 2017 Richard Harris International Film Festival. Marta
recently finished a three-week run of Ella Hickson’s play Precious Little Talent at The
Courtyard Theatre in London and her latest short film, The Easy Lift, is due to be
released in 2019.
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