Worthing actress lets her hair down for Rapunzel role

Susannah MacDonald in rehearsal for CFYTs Grimm Tales. Picture by Richard Gibbons
Susannah MacDonald in rehearsal for CFYTs Grimm Tales. Picture by Richard Gibbons

Susannah MacDonald gets to let down her golden hair – as a preliminary to going off to the big city.

Susie, who lives in Worthing, is playing Rapunzel in Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s summer promenade production of Grimm Tales, her last chapter with the youth theatre before starting at university in October.

She will be taking up a place at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama where she will be studying DATE – drama, applied theatre and education.

“I really enjoy the teaching side of things, the education side of theatre.”

Susie used to be a member of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre when she was 13, but is now back as part of her gap year as a young practitioner. She has also been working at Worthing’s Northbrook College.

The course she will embark on keeps her options open: “It is 40 percent writing and lectures and the academic side of things, 60 percent practical. It gives you a good overall training in a number of different areas. As for what I will do, I will just see where I am in three years’ time.”

In the meantime, the challenge is to play Rapunzel in the youth theatre promenade production at Cass Sculpture Foundation running until August 19.

“I think Rapunzel has got to be very bubbly and very friendly. Because she spends a lot of time by herself, she does a lot of singing and a lot of dress-making. I think she just doesn’t know any different, and also it is her strength of character.”

As for other representations of Rapunzel, Susie has generally tried to avoid them: “I just try to learn the text so that I can see what the character is like. I didn’t really want to look at too many other sources.”

Part of the challenge will inevitably come with the open-air setting: “The Rapunzel set is quite difficult. There is a bank, and there is a big whale sculpture there, which is huge, and we have got to find a way for the prince and the witch to climb up the tower.

“There are a lot of technical challenges, but once you have been on the site, you can start to think about what to do.”

The rehearsals have certainly been fun: “I just like exploring the character.

“We have been rehearsing for a while now. We started in May, and I have enjoyed it. I didn’t really know anyone before I started, and it has been really nice to get to know everyone there and see how this whole thing has grown.”

Alongside Rapunzel, Susie will also play a pig, a cockerel, a servant, Little Red Riding Hood’s mum and lots of ensemble parts, plus some understudying.

“It is really exciting!”

The audience will follow the production on foot through a variety of locations, including some steep and uneven ground. There are no parking facilities at Cass Sculpture Foundation. A ticket for Grimm Tales for Young and Old includes free car parking at Chichester College where the adventure will begin as buses transport people to the venue at the times specified below and return immediately following the performance.

Evening performances – bus leaves 6.30pm; 3pm matinee performances – bus leaves 2.15pm; and 4.30pm matinee performances – bus leaves 3.45pm.

The tales include Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, The Three Snake Leaves Hans My Hedgehog, The Juniper Tree and The Goosegirl at the Spring.

Visit www.cft.org.uk.

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