Norah Lopez Holden stars as Regine Engstrand in our production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, directed by Polly Findlay. We caught up with Norah during rehearsals to find out more.
You have an interesting background, I think it’s fair to say! Can you tell us a little more?
Norah Lopez Holden: I was born in Madrid and lived there until I was about seven. We moved mainly because my mum wanted to move closer to her family, who lived in Oldham, all about a 10-minute radius from each other. I was brought up in the Moorside area of the town, and I went to Counthill School. I’m 22, I left in 2010.
I assume, even though you were only young when you left, that you miss Spain?
NLH: I still miss Spain loads, even after having spent most of my life in England. We were living in rural Spain, and when my parents separated they justified the move by saying I was more likely to have better studying opportunities in Manchester. It’s worked out hugely in my favour in terms of the career I chose. But when I go back to Madrid to visit my family and friends there, it sort of feels like I never left!
Were you a member of Oldham’s famous Theatre Workshop?
NLH: I was indeed very much a part of the Oldham Theatre Workshop, from the age of about eight right up until I left for drama school when I was 19. Having two musicians for parents I’ve always felt close to the arts world, but I guess going to OTW every week was what started my passion for the theatre. What an incredible place; I owe them so much. They nurture you not only as a young actor but as a person. Most of my fondest memories as a child are from OTW, not to mention it’s where I met some of my best mates! I learnt so much from James and Sarah and Craig, and all the gang! They taught me invaluable lessons and principles, and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to pursue acting as a job.
You went to RADA – what was that like?
NLH: RADA… Where to start?! It’s hard to sum it up because in a way the three years sort of flew by in seconds, but also because I’ve been taught so much in such a concentrated amount of time it also sort of feels like I’ve been training for about 20 years! It was brilliant.
Can you elaborate a bit on what you learned?
NLH: I feel so lucky to have had such a great training, an opportunity that I know a lot of young actors don’t get a chance to experience, unfortunately. I think it’s such an important thing for actors to learn about their craft, and have a solid technique to rely on – I don’t think acting is something you can coast through on ‘talent’. As actors, we have a responsibility when people have paid so much money for a ticket to deliver the best performance possible to them (I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I lost my voice a week into a two month run, for example), and that’s what I got from RADA. And it’s not the prestige of the building or the names on the wall that do that, it’s the tutors and staff and students that you are surrounded by and learning from every day.
Ghosts is regarded as a classic play. Can you tell us a little about the play from your perspective, and your character?
NLH: I’m really excited to be doing this wonderful job! It’s a great relatable version of a brilliant classic play that a lot of people know – no pressure! And I’m so grateful that this is my first professional jump into the industry. I’m so lucky to be working with Polly Findlay, who directed me in a student production of Pains of Youth by Ferdinand Bruckner at RADA. She’s such a great director, and to be in the room with such wonderful actors who I really admire and learning from them and how they work… I’m sure I’ll get more nervous as the opening night draws closer, but right now I’m just having a ball. And if you don’t enjoy it… What’s the point in doing it! Right?!
Ghosts runs between Fri 18 Nov – Sat 3 Dec 2016. To find out more and book tickets, click here.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Oldham Chronicle.
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