Thalissa Teixeira, star of Yerma: 11 questions

Yerma actor Thalissa Teixeira tells us about returning to Young Vic’s hit show and accepting the job while knowing nothing about it.

1 / 1

Actor Thalissa Teixeira is an exciting new star of the London theatre scene. From performing in candlelight opposite Hattie Morahan at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to playing Chorus next to Kristin Scott Thomas in The Old Vic’s Electra, she’s worked with leading stars and top directors.

This summer she returns to Young Vic to appear with another great female performer, Billie Piper, in Yerma. The show was a sell-out hit for the Waterloo venue last year, and tickets for this revival are already hard to come by.

Based on Federico García Lorca’s Spanish classic, director Simon Stone updates this version to the modern day, where Piper’s character is a lifestyle journalist desperate to fill a hole in her life.

Thalissa Teixeira tells us more about Yerma, accepting the role she knew nothing about and how evil twins helped her become an actor:

How would you describe Yerma?

Yerma means barren in Spanish. It is a play, originally written by Lorca, about a woman who is exactly that: a woman who can’t conceive. Our version is rewritten and directed by Simon Stone and set in modern-day London. I wish I could sit back and watch it, actually sit right up and flinch at it! It’s, well, it’s extraordinary.

Why did you want to be part of the production

I adore the original. Lorca’s writing is so sensual. But when I was offered the job, there were no parts written. I rang Simon, having never met him before, hoping for some ideas on the role and the new adaptation. He had none. As soon as I hung up I accepted the job. I knew it would be a huge journey.

How would you describe your character?

Des is what Yerma was before her body started to care. She works as her assistant at the paper, throwing about her mad ideas. I’d say Des is media hungry and quite loud.

How does it feel returning to a show that’s already been such a huge success? 

Well, last time we were nervous about people’s responses. This time we were mad nervous about people’s expectations. It’s like being the best in class and having to keep it up. Actually, it feels more like being the naughty one at the back who’s loved for their ballsy-ness.

What surprised you most about the production during the original run?

The sheer talent of everyone involved.

How do you feel about performing at Young Vic?

Oh, so pleased. This theatre is honestly, truly, kind. The audiences are so diverse, the atmosphere backstage is so warm and the schemes they have are phenomenal. All of these add up to a community with such power to produce amazing theatre that is actually good and actually matters. So, thank you, [Artistic Director] David Lan.

Billie Piper, Maureen Beattie and Thalissa Teixeria in Yerma at Young Vic (image: Johan Persson)
Billie Piper, Maureen Beattie and Thalissa Teixeira in Yerma at Young Vic (Image: Johan Persson)

What was your first experience of theatre?

I can’t actually remember. I grew up watching Mexican telenovelas dubbed into Portuguese. That is probably why I have a penchant for mental plotlines, like when an evil twin turns up and blows everything up.

Why is live performance so special? 

You live it, it is alive, you breathe with it and you believe together. Storytelling was one of the first forms of communicating and gathering. Listening together is something we do less and less. That’s why theatre is so important to me.

I’m part of a storytelling group called The Embers Collective, which was started by a mate of mine, Lonan Jenkins. They’re the most terrifying performances I’ve done. Sharing an ancient myth you’ve rewritten with nothing but yourself creates so many vibes! It’s magic. It’s what Yerma is achieving: telling a tale we will pass on.

Apart from Young Vic, what’s your favourite London theatre? 

That’s hard, because as an audience member the theatre is only as good as the play it’s holding. Much like actors, actually! But in terms of theatre community The Globe. People there are crazy and that’s so good with me.

What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?

Listen. Listen more than watch. Listen to direction and absorb the good bits, listen to rhythm and mess with it.

What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre? 

Drink a beer and then pee.

Thalissa Teixeira stars in Yerma at Young Vic until 30 August.