Q&A with Katy Stephens
For the first time ever the RSC has
staged all eight of Shakespeare’s history plays with just one
company of actors. The chronicle covers a turbulent 88 years of
English history with an ensemble of 44 actors performing over 250
roles. The project culminated in Stratford in 2008 with a
performance of the complete cycle, a marathon 24 hours of
Shakespeare. Katy Stephens (Acting, 1990) played all the major
In 2009 Katy was awarded the What’s On
Stage Award for Best Actress in a Play, the Lawrence Olivier Award
for Best Ensemble Performance and the Evening Standard Editor’s
Award. She talks about her experiences at the RWCMD and how they
have contributed to her success.
What made you choose
The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
has always had such a good reputation. I really enjoyed my time
there. My favourite memory is of when we had a ‘work in’ for two
days to protest against student grants being changed to loans. Both
music and drama students stayed in the college for two whole days.
We did all sorts workshops and performances and it was just the
most amazingly creative 48 hours!
It is said that an acting career is a
marathon not a sprint. How hard was it to find work after
When I first left College I spent around four
years working for a few small touring companies. In 1996 I was cast
in ITV’s London’s Burning, but I love working with text
and verse so television didn’t satisfy me. After two years I left
London’s Burning to do some more rep jobs. I spent a lot
of time at Coventry Belgrade and with the Colchester Mercury
Ensemble. Then I ended up at the RSC! It’s been a long hard
struggle, but it’s been worth it.
Did the College equip you with the
knowledge and skills necessary to be able to find work after
Yes. The College was always a great support in
that way. Our lecturers really made sure we understood how hard it
would be and prepared us mentally. They were always very honest
about the grit and determination that we were all going to
How did it feel when you got your
first part with the Royal Shakespeare Company?
I was over the moon, absolutely thrilled! I
spent my first long contract with the RSC doing the Histories
Cycle. When they offered me another two and a half year contract I
jumped at the chance! The great thing about the RSC is that they
invest in you as a performer. We have voice and movement classes
and workshops all the time so I’m constantly learning and
developing my craft.
How do the pressure and long hours
that you experienced at College compare to working in professional
RWCMD pushes you to your limits in order to
teach you about every aspect of the industry. I worked a lot harder
there than I do in the real world. I learnt to work hard and play
hard - which is essential for this job.
What would you say was your most
memorable role in College and how does it differ from your roles in
the professional theatre?
I loved playing Lady Macbeth during my degree
- so it doesn’t differ much from my professional roles! I always
wanted to do classical theatre and my studies allowed me to gain
great experience in that area.
What are your plans for the
I just want to learn as much as I can about
this job and get as good at it as I possibly can. That’s my only
ambition really. It’s really important to never lose faith. My
advice to current students would be to always believe in yourself
and believe in what you do.
Katy plays Rosalind in As You Like
It with the Royal Shakespeare Company from April-October
2009. Joining her in the current ensemble are fellow RWCMD
graduates, Dyfan Dwyfor (Acting 2007) and Oliver Ryan (Acting
See the RSC website for more
information on Katy.
What's on Stage interview with Katy.
Read the Guardian reviews of The
Histories Cycle and
As You Like It.