Clara Hillier on Conquering Personal Challenges

For those who know me well, they know that acting at NW Classical has been a long time dream of mine. And now it is a reality! Crazy times. Last week as we started Richard III rehearsals with Barry Kyle, it was so much fun and simultaneously terrifying to just take a quick glance around the room and see the amount of talent and experience Barry and Grant had assembled for this production. Then we got on our feet and started a moving read through.

Personally, this production is full of challenges for me to conquer one by one. I’ve been cast as young Price Edward, Dorset, and Jane Shore (a typically omitted role…but essentially the mistress to Hastings and King Edward IV). As a dancer I appreciate the movement challenge of creating three physical personalities, but I have yet to explore such a variety of ages and both genders in a single production: I play a 9 year old boy, an 18 year old male soldier/politician and now a late twenties highly sexualized mistress. I now find myself observing children and male professionals in coffee shops, out walking, at bus stops, all over just to help solidify the physicality of the two male characters. Both Dorset and Prince Edward are coming to life now physically and vocally and I love finding new details about their vastly different personalities and journeys despite the fact that they share the same mother: Queen Elizabeth.

Jane Shore, albeit a small role, has provided the most difficult to work. I need to find that place of comfort onstage where I can use her sexuality as a tool for power and not have “Clara brain” on, preventing me from losing myself in the character and giving an honest performance. Last week’s rehearsal was definitely a turning point, with the costume designer and Barry creating a supportive and safe environment for me to just tackle the sexy Jane Shore scene and get over it! Only a few cast members were present, and they were all respectful and quietly supportive while I wrestled with this vast fear of mine. Although the scene itself will pass by in a flash and may not seem like anything to an audience or another actor, I can recognize how I’m changing as a performer and learning to appreciate what I bring to Jane Shore and finding the beauty in all of that.

This production is thrilling to be part of as Barry has made it clear that he expects a true ensemble approach and he is holding true to that by checking in with all characters in every scene, regardless of your line load in any given scene. So if you’re ready for some savvy tech moments, political commentary, simply fantastic acting, movement work, some mask work, and perhaps some red knickers join us at Richard III!

-Clara Hillier (Dorset, Jane Shore, Prince Edward)

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