Philippa Hammond is an actor / voice artist with over 20 years’ experience in theatre, audio and film, including Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe, Shoreham Wordfest and The Other 1% audio drama series. Over lockdown 2020 she was part of the birth of a new artform, with the online performance Zoom boom. She is co-founder of Brighton Actors Networking.
TO1%: When did you know you first wanted to be actor?
PH: It’s always been there. My parents met at an amateur dramatic club and my childhood was full of line learning, scenery painting, music practice, rehearsals and theatre club parties. I would read play scripts as though they were books, doing all the voices. One of the earliest books I read was The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown – a group of children turn an old church hall into a theatre. My first encounter with Shakespeare too, and it’s still one of my DNA books.
TO1%: What was your first professional gig?
PH: Corporate actor roleplay gigs ran parallel to my proper sensible grown-up job as a civil servant for several years. Those were my first professional gigs – and how I got my Equity card.
TO1%: Some people practice in front of a mirror some people think that’s really artificial. What’s your take?
PH: I don’t tend to do that, as it makes me look at myself rather than in the other actors’ direction or to the audience.
TO1%: How did you get involved with The Other 1%?
PH: I met Simon at a Shooting People filmmaking networking meetup up and got chatting about film and theatre in Brighton in general. Later, Simon invited me to cast and appear in a series of audio dramas entirely made in Brighton.
TO1%: If you could play any film, tv, stage or literary character, who would it be and why?
PH: I’ve been very fond of Beatrice in Much Ado About nothing since my student days – feisty, funny and gets a happy ending.
TO1%: Do you practice your craft when you’re ‘resting’ and how?
PH: Oh yes – for example, I’ve just been polishing it up on a 2-week acting workshop, I’ll be delivering my online acting essentials workshop to a Brighton playreading group this weekend and I’m talking with the local film school about working with some students, so I can definitely say I never stop learning!
TO1%: How much of your acting would you say is craft and how much instinct?
PH: Hard to say – though ‘learn it, turn up, say it like you mean it’ is definitely my style. Research, study, rehearse coupled with what am I thinking and feeling right now? How might I ‘read’ this line?
TO1%: In the States Method Acting is often seen as the Holy Grail, how do you feel about that?
PH: To be honest – I don’t really follow any school of thought, though I do think American actors have the edge when it comes to naturalistic performance, so there’s probably something in it.
TO1%: Do you ever find you start to become the characters you play when you’re off stage or off set?
PH: No – I’ve played several cannibals, an insane murderess, a gigantic bird-descended alien with delusions of godhood, plus a variety of overbearing authority figures – so it’s probably quite lucky I don’t.
TO1%: Has anyone ever noticed?
PH: Well, I do tend to go over my lines wherever I happen to be, which is a great way to get a double seat on the train.
TO1%: It’s a hard one, but if you had to choose and could only do pre-recorded OR live performance for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
PH: Definitely hard! Well, I’ve so enjoyed making audio dramas with The Other 1%, Tales of a Timelord and 2-Bit Productions, and online drama including The Show Must Go Online Shakespeare project and Sun and Moon Theatre’s Jane Austen marathon reads that I would reluctantly go for recorded performance.
TO1%: What’s your trick for learning lines?
PH: Step 1/ Prepare: Read it. Highlight my lines in yellow, my directions in green. Audio record the first table read so I’m familiar with everyone’s voices. Read it over and over till I know the piece very well and my character’s part in it, listening to their voices and reading in over my own. Make notes at rehearsal.
Step 2/ Learn: Read the first line and say it over and over. Read the second line and say them both over and over. Read the third line and say all three over and over … continue til the end of scene one, then go over it many times. Begin scene two, and so on, until I know it. Read the play every day during the run.
TO1%: Do you read your reviews and at what stage in a run of a play?
PH: Yes. As soon as they appear. I can’t stop myself, although I don’t like knowing there’s a reviewer in. I prefer it to be a surprise afterwards.
TO1%: Do you have any superstitions other than not whistling in the stage wings and calling that Shakespeare play The Scottish Play?
TO1%: If you could have a masterclass from one director and one actor who would they be?
PH: Sir Peter Hall and Fiona Shaw.
TO1%: If you become a superstar, will you demand specific bottled water and go on a paleo diet?
PH: My rider will include hobnobs, a permanently full cafetiere and lots of cheese. So no to the paleo!
Based on the South Coast of England, THE OTHER 1% was created by award-winning producer SIMON MOORHEAD, whose production company TBC AUDIO creates and distributes original, full-cast audiobooks with the aim of promoting local actors and writers to a global audience.