Wendy Kweh has had 25 years in the business, with credits including being a series regular as DC Suzie Sim in The Bill, The Bay and The Crooked Man (TV) and Crave (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Welkin, Top Girls (National Theatre), Dark Night of the Soul – The Little Sob (Shakespeare’s Globe) to name a few theatre credits.
She’s now gearing up to play Creon in the UK première of Antigone by Merlynn Tong (after Sophocles) at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, which begins performances this weekend. She caught up with us ahead of opening to answer a few questions!
Firstly, how are you and for those who may not know, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks for asking. I am well and getting back to work in the slightly closer to normal world we are currently in. I have been an actor for twenty five years.
It’s understandably been an incredibly difficult year for the arts industry and creatives such as yourselves, so how have you personally kept busy?
I have been lucky having one or two other projects during the lockdown, but in between those it’s been a bit of study to keep the mind alive, but I know I’ve been one of the fortunate ones on the whole.
Let’s talk about your upcoming show, Antigone – what can you tell us about the show?
It’s a contemporary take on a great classic. It is also, in its own way, timely, and not just timeless. It centres the tussle between the familial and political.
You are playing Creon, which is traditionally a male role, so how has this experience been so far?
Less complicated than it may sound. Merlynn wanted to explore the idea of a woman in power within a patriarchal environment. There is a radio programme called Across the Red Line where two people with opposing views come together to try and understand why the other holds the beliefs they do. There may not be an agreement but there is usually a deeper understanding of why we are the people we are.
You’re playing at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester – do you have any connections to the region, and how does it feel to be a part of their reopening season?
I can’t claim any connections to the region, but one of the joys of being here is having the opportunity to discover another part of the country. And it’s clear that the Mercury is a big part of the town and the refurbishment is a great statement, so of course it’s exciting to be part of its return.
What have you missed most about live performance and theatre?
The feeling of moving forward with life. The simple fact of being able to be with each other and experiencing something together – a partnership that only live performance can generate and nothing else can. But it’s also that each show is its own unique experience and so you feel that for you and the audience, you have added a little something instead of just passing the time.
It must present new challenges being part of a show in this ‘new world’ as it were – how has the process been thus far?
We are getting used to a lot of things which seemed totally alien a year ago. So whilst things like masks and tests affect us as they do any other part of life and there are some things that are particularly difficult for our work such as minimising time together. The Mercury team have things totally under control, we feel well looked after and so in some ways the process has more familiar than we expect.
Now theatres are reopen, there is a wealth of new shows to see, so why should people come and see Antigone?
Who said it’s either/or? You are right that we are still blessed in this country with so much choice. I can only say that if you want to be engaged with a short sharp shock of powerful drama then come walk with us.
For a little bit of fun – if you could work with any creative (ie actor or director), who would it be and why?
Gosh, can’t possibly say. I’d be so embarrassed if I ran into them… it might jinx it!
Lastly, is there anything else you wish to share, and where can people find you?
I am not on social media and no fountain of knowledge, but my main share would be to treasure your privacy. And on a completely different note, let us share our story with you.
Thank you to Wendy for her time in answering our questions!
Catch Antigone at the Mercury Theatre Colchester from 1st-16th October 2021. For more information or to book visit mercurytheatre.co.uk/antigone.