Marc Antolin is once again working with Emma Rice, as Kneehigh theatre company brings back The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk on stage. He steps back into the part of Marc Chagall in this musical about the painter’s artistic and personal life with his wife Bella. With shows such as Matilda, Peter Pan or Romantics Anonymous the actor keeps sharing with the British audiences varied and brilliant performances. We had the opportunity to talk to him on the final day of the London run of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, before he takes the show on a tour across the US and UK.
Is there a difference between playing a made up character and a real one like Marc Chagall ?
There is a massive difference, when you play a real character you have lots of research that you can do on that person. Especially with Marc Chagall there was so much information I could access : videos, pictures, books, so you sort of have a starting point. Whereas when you’re playing a made up character you have a free reign over what you can do with it. Which is quite exciting because then you can be as elaborate and imaginative as you wish. But the nice thing about playing real characters in theatre productions is that you still have a licence to enhance them slightly, because obviously if it’s a theatrical production like The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk they’re going to be bigger versions of that character. For example Marc Chagall didn’t speak english, he was Russian but Emma Rice, the director, allowed me to use my own accent because he was a working class painter. His wife, Bella is from a quite well-off family, they owned lots of jewelry shops and it’s quite nice, because of that, to have that difference of accents between the two characters in the show.
Do you need to identify with the character you’re playing ?