Photo credits: Michael Wharley
Samantha Baines, a drama alumni of the University, is currently appearing at the Bike Shed theatre in the new play Blueprint as part of the Write by Numbers residency. I took the opportunity to interview her on 17th October while she was in Exeter.
Blueprint is presented as a work in progress whereby a writer, a director and a group of performers are given a stopwatch and 60 seconds to tell a story. And then they have to tell another. The play explores the science of small, as well as big, things, memories that refuse to come unstuck, and how we tell our stories.
How did you first getting into acting?
I was in the National Youth Theatre when I was younger. I then applied to University of Exeter for Drama as I wanted to make sure that I did want to go into acting, and because the degree was a good mix of theory and practice. I then went to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to gain further skills to add to my acting.
Do you prefer comedy to drama?
Well, playing the character of Kate in Blueprints brings out a few serious aspects as she is a character who is close to dying and is reflecting on her life. But there are a few comedic moments which help to lighten the play. Despite training to be an actor however, my career has tended to swerve towards comedy. I really love to make people laugh and I also get to play good and fun characters. I am usually given the weird/funny roles or the role of the crying woman, but I don’t mind.
You recently filmed the new feature film Girls Night Out which looks at the Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth during the celebrations of V.E Day (Victory in Europe Day). What was it like filming?
Because it was set during V.E Day, it was nice to have a great hairdo done and wear a lovely period costume. I didn’t have any scenes with Rupert Everett or Emily Watson but with the main characters played by Jack Craynor and Sarah Gaddon. I played a fun, cockney girl named Mary who is an interesting character – she is drunk due to the celebrations. However she does experience a serious moment later in the film when she remembers someone who had passed away. I feel that this again created a good mix of drama and comedy. It was also quite fun filming at night as my scenes were in front of Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, with 200 extras, which was pretty cool.
Are you looking forward to performing your stand-up at the Lemon Grove tonight?
I am! I am actually performing a Scratch piece called Notebook 2 tomorrow which is an exploration of mental health. I wasn’t going to be performing but I called up the guild as I was in the area due to the play and they offered me a slot! It’ll be fun because as a student I used to get drunk in the Lemmy but now I’m back doing my comedy stand-up.
Which do you prefer – TV or Theatre?
I love doing TV and Film as I’m used to the process. I also love stand up though as I really love to make people laugh and to receive that feedback from them. Also when you’re offered a place in an amazing play like Blueprint by Corinne Furness who’s a brilliant writer, you really can’t turn it down. Besides I think that I’m not very good at rehearsing. With TV and Film you do multiple takes and the director chooses the best take, with Theatre its constant pushing until you feel you get it right. Maybe I’m quite lazy when it comes to it.
What is the one particular set of skills you think actors who want to break into the business definitely need to have?
You can do a mix of everything! People can be pigeonholed into thinking that they fit one archetype which is wrong! If you push yourself and work hard and have passion for it then you’ll make it far. Also if you put the time and effort into the enjoyment then you should get where you want to be. Everyone says that it is a hard career but just go for it.