From playing Leaf (one of the Children of the Forest) in Game of Thrones to her role as Jing in Bad Education, Kae Alexander’s CV is increasingly making her stand out as one to watch. This time, she is taking to the stage at the Hampstead Theatre for the upcoming production of Gloria. We spoke to her to find out more about her role in Gloria, as well as her thoughts on the industry in general.
How are rehearsals going for Gloria?
They have been very thorough because we have got such a strong play and a strong cast. It is really nice to be able to have the time to discover and perfect everything.
What attracted you to this production of Gloria?
When I read the script it was really funny. It jumped out at me, it’s perfect in every sense. It represents the young generation of interns and assistants in the publishing world, showing the pressures and ambition that goes with it. All these ingredients put together is like a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Along with its very good script I’ve always wanted to work with Mike [Longhurst]. Once I got the job and I knew who was directing it felt like a dream.
Have you ever seen another production of Gloria previously?
No. I was sent the script and I loved it. It’s not very often I read a script and then go “Oh my God I want that part”. I looked it up on the internet and saw there were productions of it in Chicago and New York, but no I’ve never seen it, just read it.
Do you feel like you can relate to the character you’re portraying?
Yes in a way. She’s more intelligent than myself. She’s ambitious and fierce and we can relate to the pressures and disappointment of this generation of workers. It’s the pressure of making something of yourself before you hit your 30s along with the industry not being how it used to be. I can definitely relate to that. It’s just finding your own feet and the pressure of getting there first. Like a self discovery, but more fierce in a way. I think this generation feels like there’s a certain amount of people that can make it. I can relate to this being an actor having to audition all the time. As an actor it’s quite scary to play a part in a play that is so close to home, something we can all relate to.
How would you convince someone who has never seen Gloria to come and watch it?
It has a fantastic cast and Mike Longhurst is brilliant. He’s an exciting director and known for working on unusual and refreshing modern pieces. Dealing with these stories of our time Gloria represents voices that I feel we hear in offices every day, and hopefully the audience can really relate to his work on a personal level. As it’s based in a publishing office it’s about a bunch of assistant editors who are fighting to get out of there and make it. The publishing world is collapsing and the industry is not how their college professors told them it would be.
That’s seems to be the power of the play. Even if it’s in an office or whatever circumstance anyone can relate to this, can’t they?
Yes I think so and also it’s a really good example of representing a young voice. The characters are seriously intelligent and they’re frustrated as they really care about making it. It’s a really good example of representing the young direction. It’s funny and accurate, the humour and truth is so on point.
Are you familiar of other work done by Brendan Jacob Jenkins?
I read some more on him because I was already a huge fan. I went to see An Octoroon at the Orange Tree and think he’s really exciting. It’s brilliant how we can celebrate an American playwright and next week he will have two plays in London. He used to work at the New Yorker so Gloria is loosely based on him as well. It’s been captured wonderfully.
It’s nice how it’s such a genuine piece considering his experiences.
Exactly, but all at the same time it’s super current and you have to come and see it so you get it. It’s hard to get a play that is so current, well observed and written. He’s managed to make something so current and normal into something extraordinary and fascinating. He’s very intelligent.
Have you ever been to the Hampstead Theatre?
Yes, I’ve been going to Hampstead for many years now and I love what they are doing downstairs for new writing. I’ve been loving every production they have been doing. It’s a brilliant Off West End theatre I have been a fan of for some time.
You have two main theatre credits, Peter Pan and The Internet Is Serious Business, what other performances have you done?
When I first graduated from Guildhall I worked quite a lot at the Unicorn Theatre which I am a fan of. I support the wonderful work there. Purni Morrell who runs it used to work at the National Studios at National Theatre who runs this children’s theatre and it’s a brilliant theatre. They pick up these unusual shows that are suitable for all ages and they introduce these different kinds of shows that I have never heard of before. They introduce different ways of story telling such as puppetry and it is really creative and exciting. Apart from that I have been doing quite a lot of screen work.
What was one of your favourite ways of storytelling?
Currently just from working on Game Of Thrones I’ve worked closely with stunt performers and prosthetic effects and have collaborated with different departments. I really appreciate its storytelling, with the amount of work and passion that goes into it. I get obsessed and in every job I learn a bit more of how everything comes together.
It all kind of works like a jigsaw puzzle, doesn’t it?
Exactly its a whole team effort. It’s very satisfying to appreciate and bring everything together.
Do you have a theatre performance that you always wanted to be a part of?
Most recently it’s been stuff like People, Places and Things and thinking “oh this is great!” telling stories from a woman standing centre stage. It’s complicated with an interesting story and character. It shows women who are complicated, messy and not perfect, how we’re not two dimensional love interests. When I see things like that it gives me hope, and even this part I’m playing, Kendra, there’s no love interest as we’re mixed up in our own agendas. It’s those things you have to step back from to reflect on and notice. When we have these opportunities and when we get to read or play the parts that are just empowered by their own agendas, especially the female characters, it’s encouraging for us and gives us hope.
You have a role in the upcoming film Ready Player One?
That’s a film with Steven Spielberg and it’s out next year. I’m a huge fan of the book and did quite a lot of research. I talked with the costume designers and collaborated with lots of departments to make these choices which was exciting. I watched a lot of Mr Robot and all that kind of stuff, mainly I referred to the book to enable me to stay close to the original story.
With your television credits do you rank Game Of Thrones as your biggest achievement so far?
Well I’ve just finished David Hare’s new drama Collateral, and that’s quite a nice drama, so this year I’ve gone onto more drama based stuff. Game Of Thrones is drama, but it’s more fantasy. I also have a drama coming out called Hard Sun and it should be interesting as I’m playing a different role I haven’t tackled before. I’m not sure if they are bigger and better challenges, but I think within a certain job during that time it changes. Sometimes you need to do something else and you don’t quite know what the challenge is until you actually do it. Game of Thrones is epic compared to the usual dramas, and they’re so clear about their story, it’s such a machine of hard working teams. With this play, it’s my first doing an American part, so I want to sound authentic rather than like a girl from London trying to sound American.
What is your biggest challenge as an actress?
This one might be a bit deep. My biggest challenge is handling and dealing with my own pressures I give myself. This goes back to the play we’re doing, to that pressure and competitiveness. Society makes life difficult these days with things such as health prices. It’s more the pressures I build within myself and the expectations I give myself. I practise meditation and check in with myself from time to time. I’m keen and energetic and I want to be doing something all the time. I’m so lucky I am doing what I loved doing as a kid by playing, exploring and telling stories, but you have to mix that in with professionalism. That’s the biggest challenge.
Before you go on stage, do you have a particular warm up or inspirational words to prepare?
Once I’ve done my preparation I have to remind myself that I am enough. There’s no point stressing about the work when I’m about to go onto the stage. One of our teachers taught us breathing exercises and there’s another exercise where you go “nothing, nothing, nothing” to blank your mind and trick yourself from building that pressure. There’s lots of different tactics to neutralise everything. Tactics to build self confidence and to know you are what you are, and it’s part of the process, to know what you are is absolutely fine. You don’t have to be perfect. There’s a bit of a trap to learn, especially when growing up in conventional schools where you have to get everything right, the more you can get that knocked out of your head the more creative and free you can be with your own instincts.
Gloria is on at the Hampstead Theatre from 15 June – 22nd July. You can look for tickets here.