As I mentioned in my last post – exciting news to start the year! Zoe Cunningham is doing a one-woman show based on Dark Dates this February (you can buy tickets here). I caught up with Zoe to see why she chose Cassandra…
Zoe, welcome to Dark Dates!
First of all, tell us a little about yourself: how did you get into acting?
I belonged to a few drama groups when I was younger and did a few shows, but my parents convinced me (very wisely!) to do a mathematics degree instead and get a “proper job”. Apart from a chance role in a feature film (The Look of Love), I forgot all about acting until in March 2014 I picked up an amazing book – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book’s runs like a course; you do exercises every week. The aim of these exercises is to help you to overcome your creative and emotional blocks, and it must have worked for me because in Week 8 the exercise was to write what you would ideally want to be and I went “oh, I want to be an actor”. It was suddenly really obvious.
So this will be your first one-woman show – are you nervous? What do you think the challenges are of doing a show yourself rather than with a full cast?
Yes, I’m nervous! The principle challenge with a one person show is that you need to generate all the energy yourself. When you act with others you can respond and react to their acting, which can create realism very quickly – it’s much harder to do that on your own.
What drew you to Dark Dates and particularly the character of Cassandra? Why did you think this would be suited to a one person show?
I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy geek so I loved the books when I first read them. The Dark Dates world is very convincing and Cassandra holds the same values that I do of tolerance and respect for others. The novels are written in the first person, which made me think that maybe a one-person show from Cassandra’s view would also work.
You worked alongside both your director Peta Lily and the author Tracey Sinclair for the show – how was that? Is it tough to flesh out a character when the author is involved – do you get protective of ‘your’ version of Cassandra?
I don’t know if this was what Tracey intended when she wrote Cassandra, but I see a lot of her own personality in the character (or maybe I’ve done the reverse and attributed characteristics to Tracey based on Cassandra!). Our opinions haven’t clashed yet (fingers crossed), but I think I would have to accept Tracey as the authority if they did. Peta is obviously much less attached to the character and rather than adding her own interpretation, she has been really helpful in running exercises with me and taking notes to find out what I think of the characters on a deeper level.
What should the audience expect from the show?
Fun, irreverence and pathos.
Do you think you will do more of them or work with the character again?
When I first met Tracey I made a throwaway comment that I could play Cassandra when the series is optioned for film & TV, so fingers crossed eh? I’m definitely keen to do more with the show. If this first performance goes well, it would be great to tour it and to think about writing a sequel.
Once this is over – what’s next for Zoe? More acting or producing or a mix of both?
One thing that I’ve started doing is producing and acting in radio dramas, which is really enjoyable. Plus I’m part of a small team recording short stories for a regular show on Shoreditch Radio. Further to those projects I have tentative plans for a show in July, but acting work tends to be very short notice so who knows what I’ll be doing in six months’ time!
OK, thanks, Zoe – I’m quite flattered about the comparison to Cassandra (though it would be nice if my own Cain or Laclos showed up… c’mon, 2015!) I can’t wait to see what Zoe does with the character… if you’re curious yourself, more details can be found here…
About Zoe Cunningham:
Zoe is a woman of many talents, working as an actor, voiceover artist, TV and radio presenter and singer.
Trained at CityLit, The Actors Centre and RADA, Zoe appeared in the 2013 film The Look of Love, two short films in 2014 and has extensive voice over and radio experience.
Zoe also has many skills outside of acting – she is the Managing Director of a 100 person software agency and the founder of private members’ network Exponential.