Though her childhood was spent in the corners of dressing rooms, Maisie Richardson-Sellers is better known to sci-fi fans than she is to theatre buffs. The Oxford-educated performer lit the afterburners on her acting career playing Resistance commander Korr Sella in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, before going on to star in US series Of Kings And Prophets, The Originals and Legends Of Tomorrow.
This month, however, she leaves time travel, vampires and intergalactic warfare behind to make her West End debut in 3Women, the first play by comedian Katy Brand. Running at the bijou Trafalgar Studios 2, and telling an intergenerational tale, the production also stars seasoned stage performers Anita Dobson and Debbie Chazen.
Maisie Richardson-Sellers tells us more:
How would you describe 3Women?
3Women is a comedy drama that explores the interrelationships of three women from three different generations within one family: a grandmother, mother and daughter. On the eve of the mother’s wedding, the three of them are isolated together, a great rarity. With tongues loosened by champagne they delve into each other’s darkest secrets and wildest dreams.
Who do you play and what is she like?
I play Laurie, the daughter. She is a vivacious university fresher who is exploring her identity, sexuality and new-found freedom. She is determined to be a part of creating an equal world where every individual can thrive. As wise as she is naïve, she is determined to resolve the family fractures.
What made you want to be part of this show?
When I first read the script, I was deeply moved and tickled by it. The author, Katy Brand, is a wonderful comedian and writer. To see three women of different generations interacting and learning from each other, often when they least expect it, I found captivating and a refreshing exploration. The whole cast and team are incredible, so it was a total no-brainer for me!
How are you feeling about making your West End debut?
Extremely excited! I grew up in the corner of dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces as my parents are both actors, and going to the theatre was one of my earliest found passions, so this has been a wonderful journey.
And how are you feeling about performing at Trafalgar Studios in particular?
I have seen many great productions and performances at Trafalgar Studios over the years and I love the diversity of their projects. Studio 2, where we are performing, is extremely intimate, which is my favourite way to experience theatre. It’s going to be a marvellous adventure.
Most of your career so far has been spent working on American TV series. Was that a deliberate choice? And what will fans of those shows enjoy about 3Women?
No, it just happened that way! I’d studied drama at school and was an avid performer and director at Oxford. After filming Star Wars, I went over to LA for the summer and booked my first TV role. Since then, I have just happened to end up working mostly there. I try to come back home in between filming seasons. I shot a wonderful short film called Melody in London/Brighton last spring and now am doing this play. London will always be home, but I also love travelling with my work and exploring new places. So far I’ve filmed in Atlanta, Cape Town and Vancouver, so even though they are American shows I am always off somewhere new.
The play is an honest and open exploration of the lives of three women. It is both very personal and also speaks of generational difference and experiences that everyone will be able to relate to aspects of, so it is not limited to genre or “type” of person. It is a play about human interactions and realities.
What was your first experience of theatre?
Performance-wise, it would have been playing a cricket in my nursery play – a career-defining role if ever there was one. I was first taken to the theatre when I was two, to see a pantomime at Hackney Empire, which is always a great experience. I was completely captivated the whole way through, much to my parents’ relief.
Why is watching a live performance so special?
I find the intimacy and uniqueness of each performance and [the] fleeting nature of the experience deeply captivating. There is nothing that moves me in quite the same way.
What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?
Create art that feeds you. Let the experience of creating enrich you. Do it for the journey, not the end goal. That way you will never stop growing as an artist.
Apart from Trafalgar Studios, which is your favourite London theatre?
I have a soft spot for the National Theatre, although perhaps that is cheating as the three theatres within it are so wonderfully different! I have seen a great number of incredible productions at the National and I love how many new writing pieces as well as bold interpretations of classics they put on. It is also a fabulous place to sit and read/write during the quieter times of the day.
Why do you think London is such a great place to experience theatre?
The diversity of the projects and performers. London is a magical melting pot of cultures and experiences and that is reflected in the arts created and performed there. The size of the space or how well known the team are can mean nothing. I have wandered into pub theatres or pop-up spaces and seen art that has transformed me. That is such a special experience.
What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre?
Let go of all preconceived expectations and allow yourself to be taken on an adventure.