Kamil Ellis

Feature | Kamil Ellis playing a witch and Fleance

Ahead of the Macbeth season, Kamil Ellis tells us about his first time performing Shakespeare.

What are the major themes in Macbeth that you grab onto?

What I’ve grasped is that Macbeth is a very power hungry person. He finds out that he could potentially have all the power that he wants and he decides he wants to get to that. Eventually, it all comes back to bite him in terms of karma.

With Simon’s choice to cast you as a witch and Fleance, is there a complete separation between these two characters for you?

Yes, speaking with Leith, our Voice and Text Coach has helped a lot in separating the two. My characters are linked in terms of story line, but not so much as people.
Are there any specific design choices that you’re really excited about? In terms of costume, I like that it’s all stuff I’d wear in real life. I think that’s cool because then I can add little traits of myself to the character. It’s sort of coming towards me as opposed to me being a completely different person. I think it will be easier to play Fleance because of this.

What was your first experience with Shakespeare and what is it that you love about his work?

This is my first experience with Shakespeare. I’ve never done a Shakespeare before. So I don’t know what I really love about it, or what I really hate about it. I definitely like that it’s challenging. Being a teenager, it’s very different language and vocabulary to what I’m used to. It was hard to get myself around it initially. The story and the language, the whole thing was very, very difficult for me to grasp. I never imagined I’d get the chance to do a Shakespeare, I never thought I’d fit it, so for my first Shakespeare, it’s big. I’ve been thrown straight into the deep end and I like it. As we go through the scenes, I’m understanding everything that I’m doing, in terms of what I’m saying and my actions.
Initially, it was difficult for me to act with other people, because I’d spent so long learning my parts, I didn’t understand what they were saying and what my reactions would be like to that. I think I’m nearly there now, and will hopefully be fine by opening night.

What have you learnt throughout the rehearsal process?

I’ve definitely learnt a lot in terms of theatre. This is only my second stage production, so I’ve learnt a lot about the difference between stage and film and I’ve learnt a lot about Shakespeare as well. My first audition was a self-tape, and when I came in, I did it the exact same way I did in the self-tape and Simon said, ‘Ok cool, forget everything you’ve just done. This is what it means, now try it this way.’ He knows it so well.

Macbeth plays at Southbank Theatre from 5 June. Book now.

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