Emily Carding

Emily Carding is an actor, writer and artist based in Hastings, UK. She worked in theatre after graduating from Bretton Hall in 1997, and then focused on her writing and artwork whilst raising her daughter. After graduating with an MFA in Staging Shakespeare in 2015, she has been working consistently in both Film and Theatre, most notably in the award-winning Richard III (A One-Woman Show) with which she is still touring, both in the UK and internationally and Ghost Stories (2017) opposite Martin Freeman.

TO1%: When did you know you first wanted to be actor?
EC: It’s odd because it’s not in my family at all and we didn’t have drama classes at either my primary or secondary schools but I felt it from a very young age. We did have a nativity at my primary school and I played Gabriel. I took it *so* seriously and remembered my lines for years afterwards. That must have been the moment! Then once we started studying Shakespeare at school I knew I wanted those words in my mouth always.

TO1%: What was your first professional gig?
EC: I’m really bad at time and dates, so I may have this wrong but I think it was a very small scale national tour of both a kids’ and adult panto. Jack and the Beanstalk and Prick Whittington. It was five of us in a van touring small theatres and clubs and it was every bit as gruelling as you might imagine. My only time properly fainting and collapsing was onstage during that tour. I was playing the Dame. I guess there’s just something about me that screams gender-queer.

TO1%: Some people practice in front of a mirror some people think that’s really artificial? What’s your take?
EC: Well, different things work for different people. It’s certainly not part of my process. I once (very early on in my career) had a director hold up a mirror in rehearsal to show me what I was doing with my face and I found it really very disrespectful.

TO1%: How did you get involved with The Other 1%
EC: If I remember correctly, Simon had seen me perform in Richard III (a one woman show) and that’s how we first connected.

TO1%: If you could play any film, tv, stage or literary character, who would it be and why?
EC: I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve played many of the dream roles in terms of Shakespeare, which is my speciality, though I’d love a go at Henry V and/Cleopatra. What I’ve still not had the chance to play with is Sci-Fi, which I have adored my whole life! People often say I should play the Doctor, which of course would be a dream but is incredibly unlikely to ever happen. I do feel I’m destined to play Servalan one day. Blake’s Seven is overdue a reboot and is more relevant than ever!

TO1%: Do you practice your craft when you’re ‘resting’ and how?
EC: Until Covid, I’d been pretty continuously working (since returning to acting after many years raising my child), often on multiple projects, for which I am very grateful. Currently I have a couple of different groups I do things with on Zoom, one is more workshops, the other is play reading, and I’ve also been involved in numerous online theatre projects so still keeping busy.

TO1%: How much of your acting would you say is craft and how much instinct?
EC: I think at this point it’s a good balance of the two.

TO1%: In the States Method Acting is often seen as the Holy Grail, how do you feel about that?
EC: Again, different techniques work for different people, and I think for different projects too. Also some people seem to have little understanding of the different schools of ‘method’. Meisner technique comes from these roots and I’ve found it very useful. In some roles I like to absorb myself, or more like becoming a channel for them. I have my own method!

TO1%: Do you ever find you start to become the characters you play when you’re off stage or off set?
EC: Oh gosh. Well. Sometimes. But I think part of that is in one of the great draws of this career for me is in exploring different facets of the human spirit and I think playing certain characters can unlock different parts of ourselves, which can be disconcerting when we first start to liberate and integrate them. It’s important to develop a mindfulness of this and to ground yourself after shows or filming.

TO1%: Has anyone ever noticed?
EC: Well, my second husband cited it as his reason for divorce, so… (although this was not his real reason)

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?
EC: Right now, we’re in the third full lockdown in the UK. We haven’t been able to shake hands, let alone hug friends. Right now, if a genie appeared and could grant me this wish, I’d tour with Hamlet (an experience), an immersive solo show which works best with a small audience who all take on the other roles in the play. It’s different every time, audience members can be so surprising, creative and moving. One of the first moments in the play is me as Hamlet greeting and hugging the audience member playing Horatio. We start off as strangers in this space and end having been friends, family, mortal enemies…co-creating artists. I miss it. So much.

TO1% What’s your trick for learning lines?
EC: A trick implies that there is a short cut of some kind. In truth, it’s work, it’s all work. You just have to keep doing them, out loud, over and over. Thing that works best for me is if I can be out and about, walking or doing some other physical activity to get the words in my body. Then I need a very patient friend to ruthlessly grill me on them till I’m perfect.

TO1%: Do you read your reviews and at what stage in a run of a play?
EC: Yeah…as soon as I can get hold of them. It’s bad, isn’t it? I’m so lucky so far that I’ve not been slated as that could really knock your confidence while you’re in a run.

TO1%: Do you have any superstitions other than not whistling in the stage wings and calling that Shakespeare play The Scottish Play?
EC: Not really, but I do have my own routine and like as much prep time in the space as possible. I like to do a ritual called the Qabalistic Cross. It sounds very esoteric but it’s quite simple and helps to connect and ground within the space and also resonate the voice.

TO1%: If you could have a masterclass from one director and one actor who would they be?
EC: You know what would be amazing and would touch on skills I haven’t already had chance to develop? A masterclass run by Guillermo Del Toro and Doug Jones on becoming otherworldly creatures and creating believable fantasy worlds.

TO1%: If you become a superstar, will you demand specific bottled water and go on a paleo diet?
EC: Gods, I hope not. My one high maintenance thing would be maybe asking for gluten and dairy-free cake!

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