Sarah Alles: 11 questions

German star Sarah Alles tells us about making her London debut in new play Moormaid at Arcola Theatre.

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Sarah Alles has an impressive list of achievements to her name. The 31-year-old German star kicked off her career aged just 12, appearing in a TV movie. She has a black belt in karate, adapted acclaimed horror film Hard Candy for the stage and has starred opposite Christoph Waltz on the big screen.

In 2018, she can tick off another ambition when she makes her professional London stage debut in Moormaid at Arcola Theatre.

The new play from Marion Bott is the story of an art teacher on the brink of doing something drastic. Sarah Alles tells us more:

How would you describe Moormaid?

It’s a play about two lost souls who don’t know the purpose of their lives anymore. We follow their journey from self-destruction to rebirth as they shock each other into the realisation that they need to change. Moormaid is a wonderfully complex and layered play that really questions what it is to be human.

How would you describe your character?

Melissa used to be a playful and successful painter but she has put herself in a cage of things she hates to do. She has been there for such a long time that she doesn’t know what is wrong with herself anymore and just feels emptiness. But there is a creativity and fighting spirit within Melissa; it just needs waking up.

What made you want to star in this play?

When I first read this mind-blowing play by Marion Bott, it deeply touched me. I meet so many incredibly sad people in my daily life. They’re unhappy with their lives even though from the outside nothing seems to be missing. According to the World Health Organisation, Europe has the highest suicide rate in the world, although we live in material wealth. I wanted to explore this journey from depression to healing and move and inspire people with this story.

How are you feeling about making your London stage debut?

I’m super excited and very grateful for this opportunity. I’ve always dreamt of acting in London one day as I love the theatre industry here. It’s so bold and brave. It really inspires me. So I put a lot of focus into making it happen: research, a base in London, getting a UK agent. It still seems a little unreal that everything has worked out. I’m very much looking forward to it and I‘m curious to see what happens next!

How much do you know about Arcola Theatre and how do you feel about performing there?

The Arcola is the perfect venue for this play: internationally minded, raw and very current. I’m so excited to be working at a theatre that does such bold and ambitious work.

What was your first experience of theatre?

I was the angel in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol – The Musical. So the first time on stage I was actually flying! I somehow managed to preserve that feeling in my heart and in a way, I’m still flying when I’m on the stage now.

Why is watching a live performance so special?

There is an immediate connection between the actors and audience in a live performance, which is so exhilarating. You know that what you are experiencing in that moment is fresh and different from any other night. For me, there’s nothing quite like it and it makes every show special.

What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?

Simply refuse to give up. Use all the obstacles – failure and loss – as a motivation to achieve your goal.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing while you’re in London?

To connect with other artists and get some new input from creatives working in a different city! I’ll probably do some workshops once we’ve finished the rehearsals, too.

Which one other London show are you excited about at the moment?

London has so much great theatre, it’s hard to pick just one! I have tickets booked for The Writer at Almeida Theatre the weekend before we open Moormaid, which I’m really looking forward to. And I definitely want to catch The Ferryman, which I’ve heard is wonderful!

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

Keep it affordable and switch off your phone an hour beforehand.

Sarah Alles stars in Moormaid at Arcola Theatre from 18 April to 19 May.