Sharon Small Interview – Still Alice
Sharon Small Interview – ‘Still Alice’
Star of stage and screen Sharon Small (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Trust Me) plays Alice in West Yorkshire Playhouse’s major new stage production of the bestselling novel Still Alice, by Lisa Genova and adapted by Christine Mary Dunford.
Moving and tender, Still Alice sees driven professional Alice Howland compelled to confront her new reality after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Directed by David Grindley (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gate Theatre, Dublin), the production opens West Yorkshire Playhouse’s ‘Every Third Minute’, a pioneering festival of theatre, dementia and hope that is the first of its kind.
Below, Sharon talks about the challenging role…
What initially drew you to Still Alice, and what about the production are you looking forward to?
I read the novel with my book group and loved it, and also and I’d seen the film. I was delighted to be asked to play the role because of its subject matter and the challenge of bringing such a moving story to the stage, especially how the diagnosis affects Alice’s work and family. It’s a frank and furious look on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alice goes on a moving journey, what do you think will be the challenges of playing the character?
The main challenge I think, is to chart the effects of the disease on Alice as accurately as possible. She is so brilliantly bright and as she starts to lose cognition, she fights in different ways to keep her brain active. Also creating the relationship with the character of Herself (played by Ruth Gemmell) onstage who reflects the thoughts that Alice can’t say aloud. It’s such a brilliant addition to the production and the audience will have a different insight to what Alice is experiencing. It also demonstrates so clearly Alice’s new relationship with herself and her consciousness.
How is this new stage adaptation approaching bringing such a poignant story to life?
The stage design has a huge part to play in how it reflects Alice’s world as it changes and disappears around her as the disease progresses. Also with the wonderful other actors who play family, doctors and friends doing such a beautiful job articulating how their relationships change with Alice as a result of living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Still Alice, Courtyard Theatre, Until Sat 3 March. Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online wyp.org.uk