★★★  Inter Act  ★★★
with
Eleanor Yates
Eleanor Yates
photographed by Harry Livingstone
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1
Emma:
What is your earliest drama memory? And when did you first become aware of your lovely vocal tone?
Eleanor:
I’ve always loved performing. I loved taking part in school plays and singing in the choir at primary school and church. But I really caught the bug when I played the Narrator in ‘Joseph’ in year 9. However I didn’t do any straight plays until going to university. We had a brilliant drama society with lots of inspirational directors and I suddenly realised it could possibly be my job and not just a hobby.
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2
Emma:
Have you always sung?
Eleanor:
I come from quite a musical family. My Mum and Dad both sing and play at their respective churches and always encouraged me and my sisters to join in. We’ve always enjoyed singing together - still do!
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3
Emma:
Your list of credits is so wide-ranging and fascinating. Having personally watched you in ‘Mr. Turner’, ‘Harlots’ and ‘All's Well That Ends Well’, do you have a favourite from film, TV, theatre, singing or recorded sound?
Eleanor:
I think my first love will always be theatre. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of working together with a creative team to make a show. You become a little family for a few months. And there’s nothing quite like the live experience of performing, how it’s different every night, and unlike TV or film you get to tell the whole story in the right order each time. However since COVID and having a baby, I have really enjoyed the flexibility of voice work, audiobooks and video games. It’s a lovely thing to be able to work from home and around family commitments.
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4
Emma:
What has been the most challenging role for your voice?
Eleanor:
Vocally video game work can be very challenging. You often have to create quite extreme sounds over and over again, screams and battle cries and death rattles. It can be tough on your voice. It is fun though! I played an Amazonian warrior woman at 8 months pregnant!
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5
Emma:
Does the voice of any character you embody follow from the text? How do start to approach any new role?
Eleanor:
I think it’s always good to go to the text first. There are often helpful descriptions of the character, or lots you can infer from the way other characters talk about or respond to your character and you can work from there. In the read-through or audition you tend to go with your instincts and then you can work with the director or vocal coach to create something unique for the character that will work with what everyone else is doing. It’s always good to ask yourself how best to serve the story.
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6
Emma:
What work would be on your wish list?
Eleanor:
I would love to do a Chekhov play again. The characters are all so beautifully subtle and human but I also really love working with new writing. It’s a real joy to create a character for the first time.
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7
Emma:
Do you enjoy writing - and writing for yourself?
Eleanor:
The play I’m working on at the moment, ‘Dance to the Bone’, is my first full length play, written with the musician Oliver Hoare. It’s been a huge learning curve and so exciting. I have loved the writing process and definitely want to continue writing . It’s been such a joy to see our characters brought to life. It’s a strange thing acting your own lines though. You have to keep switching rôles and stop the writer from trying to fix problems that the actor could probably solve by themselves.
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8
Emma:
Many women find that their voice changes after giving birth - would you agree?
Eleanor:
Well I’m sure the general lack of sleep isn’t great for vocal health! However one of the joys of being a Mum is I find myself singing constantly, and love that my two year old can now join in. She loves music! I’m pregnant again now with my second child and it’s amazing to feel the baby respond to the music we’re playing in the show with kicks and stretches. Apparently they will be able to recognise melodies that they heard in the womb so this one will know all the songs too!
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9
Emma:
As you are currently singing more frequently, do you have any regime to help maintain your vocal health? Does that differ from any exercises you used before in a more ‘speaky’ context?
Eleanor:
As the show involves lots of singing and dancing, we start each day of rehearsals as a company with a physical and vocal warm up. However when we go into the shows, I will make sure I include a vocal warm up for speaking too, mainly just some articulation and focusing exercises. This tends to help with any first night nerves too!
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10
Emma:
What challenges and/or benefits did the isolation of the past few years bring for you?
Eleanor:
It’s been a strange few years for all of us. It was quite a unique time to have a first baby, and while it was hard not to be able to share more time with the grandparents and wider family, it was special to have no distractions and to be able to spend so much time together as a little new family. We wouldn’t have been able to write this play without the extra quiet time. However, it’s lovely to be able to work in theatre again. The whole industry is tentatively emerging again now and it does feel different. I hope audiences return with confidence. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.
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11
Emma:
How important do you feel it is that we are returning to live and expressive performance?
Eleanor:
It’s hugely important. It’s an ancient thing, the desire to gather together and tell stories and share music. With all the innovations of Zoom and digital theatre, there is nothing quite like being in a shared space and experiencing something live.
Eleanor's theatre company, Neon Candle Theatre, has a web site, where you can also find contact information:

https://www.neoncandletheatre.com


Her new play, ‘Dance to the Bone’, runs from today to 2nd. April, 2022, at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff - catch it if you can!

My heartfelt thanks to Eleanor for breaking off from rehearsals (photos below), in order to give this interview.
Eleanor Yates in rehearsal
photographed by Chris Lloyd
Eleanor Yates in rehearsal
photographed by Chris Lloyd
Eleanor Yates in rehearsal
photographed by Kirsten Mcternan
Return to Emma's Voiceblog
25th. March, 2022