Tara Fitzgerald at the RSC, Stratford

PUBLISHED: 13:41 04 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:41 20 February 2013

Tara Fitzgerald at the RSC, Stratford

Tara Fitzgerald at the RSC, Stratford

Tara Fitzgerald's acting credentials range from global cult television series Game of Thrones to classic British films like Brassed Off but she's never worked with the RSC – until now

Tara Fitzgeralds acting credentials range from global cult television series Game of Thrones to classic British films like Brassed Off but shes never worked with the RSC until now...



Tara Fitzgerald is making her RSC debut at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre this month, returning to a town and a theatre company she remembers from childhood days.



I have a very affectionate view of the RSC from when I was a child because my stepfather, Norman Rodway, was an associate artist. The RSC was very much part of my life. Lots of RSC actors used to come round for lunch and when you are a child these things take on mythical status.



Tara recalls living in Stratford-upon-Avon in the early 1970s and going to primary school there; one of her strongest memories is doing brass rubbings with her sister in the church across the road from their home.



Perhaps not surprisingly she had an early love of Shakespeare and went to see many productions, including The Merry Wives of Windsor, with Brenda Bruce inthe role of Mistress Page. I started reading Shakespeare when I was very young because I wanted to understand what my stepfather was doing. I didnt feel alienated by the language. Even though I didnt understand a lot of it ... Isort of did!



Since then, in her acting career, she has come to appreciate his work even more: Shakespeares writing is so powerful, he deals with such enormous, universal themes and there is so much potential within each play so many choices that you can make as an actor obviously that is part of his genius ; you can keep turning the prism.



Tara has been cast as Hermione in the new production of The Winters Tale directed by Lucy Bailey which runs until February 23, before going on a UK tour in March and April. This production is set in the 1860s, and the tale of jealousy and forgiveness sees the return of RSC associate artist, Jo Stone-Fewings in the role of Leontes and the RSC debut of Rakie Ayola as Paulina.



Its great I am working with a really nice bunch of people and I love the play. Ithink Lucy is a wonderful director, she says. Yet despite her early affinity with the Bards work, this is only her second Shakespearean performance. Her first, in 1995, was an Almeida Theatre Company production in which she played Ophelia opposite Ralph Fienness Hamlet. The play transferred to Broadway after a run at the Hackney Empire in London. Tara was 27 and by then she had made her film debut in the romantic comedy Hear My Song, walking into the part straight from drama school the Drama Centre in north London. She had also co-starred with Hugh Grant in Sirens, teaming up with him again in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain.



Since then her film work has included the popular British comedy drama Brassed Off and I Capture the Castle. Her many TV appearances have included, early in her career, starring roles in adaptations of the best-selling Mary Wesley novels The Camomile Lawn and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew and more recently the role of Dr Eve Lockhart in the forensic science drama Waking the Dead and its spin-off The Body Farm.



Soon the millions of addicts of the vast epic fantasy Game of Thrones will be able to see her in the eagerly-awaited third season of this Home Box Office series, in which seven noble families fight for control of a mythical land. Tara is Selyse Baratheon, the wife of Stannis Baratheon, played by Stephen Dillane. Ilove Game of Thrones I was already a fan, said Tara, who filmed her scenes in Ireland last year. It was great being part of this amazing, wonderful big machine. You walk onto these sets and they are epic like huge great cathedrals. Selyse spends much of her life shut away in a gloomy tower and in this Tara sees parallels to her role as the falsely-accused Hermione, who spends 16 years in seclusion. It is a possible example, she thinks, of Shakespeares pervasive influence.



She thrives on having a live audience: Ireally enjoy theatre. I really love it. Although I like doing film and TV for me theatre is a different discipline which requires different sets of muscles. I dont feel they are that similar in terms of what you are asked for. The relationship with the audience changes things so dramatically. Idont think the audience are aware of how much they can swing a nights show but they do and that is very exciting.



She also feels there is more freedom for the actor to develop the character. In film, you are more at the mercy of the director, the editor, the music cue



Tara, aged 45, prefers complicated, meaty roles, adding like everyone does! She says: I have been very fortunate to have the chance to play some amazing roles, like the one in Broken Glass. She played Sylvia Gellburg, a woman suffering hysterical paralysis, in the gruelling Arthur Miller play at The Vaudeville Theatre. When a writer likes and understands women, it gives you so much to work with. n



The Winters Tale is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from January 24 to February 23. Tickets: www.rsc.org.uk/tale and 0844 800 1110.

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