Talking Tommy with Amy Trigg

Tuesday 25th April 2017

Last year, Amy Trigg wowed critics and audiences alike as she made her professional stage debut as Laura in our production of The Glass Menagerie. Now she’s back, pin-balling across the stage as Sally Simpson in our current production of Tommy. We caught up with her for a chat in between shows…

We last saw you on our stage in The Glass Menagerie, which was your first professional stage role – what was the experience like for you?
It was a wonderful experience. I’d wanted to play Laura in The Glass Menagerie for quite a few years – ever since I read the play actually so I was chuffed that it was my first stage role. Everyone at the Nottingham Playhouse was lovely and I felt really at home so I’m excited to be back and see everyone.

Amy as Laura with Daniel Donskoy as Jim in The Glass Menagerie (2016)

What have you been up to since we last saw you? Twitter suggests you have branched out into live comedy!
Yes, I have been doing improvisation for a few years and people kept suggesting that I try stand-up but I didn’t think I’d be very good. Then one day last year I thought “YOLO” and I signed up for a stand up competition in Colchester, Essex. I thought it’d be a fun way of making an idiot out of myself in front of all my friends and family. I had loads of them come watch my first gig and I’m 90% sure half of them were there to laugh at me when I fell flat on my face! I got through the heats and ended up winning the competition (Colchester New Comedian of the Year). I’ve carried on and have plans to work more on sketch comedy in the future. Aside from that I’ve been working on readings and workshops for new plays which I really enjoy!

Have you seen the original Tommy film? If so, what were your thoughts?!
I watched it with my parents the day before I started rehearsals for Tommy and thought it was absolutely insane. In a good way…There’s nothing quite like it, which is brilliant. I mean, if there’s another film which features baked beans, chocolate and bubbles coming out of a smashed television then please let me know, I’d like to see it.

The film is quite dated in terms of its depiction of disability – how does the Ramps on the Moon version address this?
When I watched the film I laughed out loud at the depiction of disability. It basically gives the message “you must be healed or you are not whole” which is what a lot of people thought back in the day, and some annoyingly still think. The amount of times I’ve been healed in a car park is a bit worrying but I never like to say no because they’re always really nice people. In fact, I had chips with some of them afterwards once and they only seemed slightly disappointed that I was still in my wheelchair and not running into the chippie.

Amy as Sally Simpson with William Grint as Tommy in Tommy (2017)

I think what makes our production so distinctive is how accessible it is to everyone. We use sign language, audio description and captioning throughout. In the film you can pick out the ‘disabled scene’ but in our production you can’t. Our company is a mix of deaf, disabled and able-bodied actors/actor musicians. It’s a wonderfully beaten cake mix. You rarely see deaf and disabled characters on stage, let alone deaf and disabled actors playing those characters. This representation alone means this production feels like it’s embracing those disabilities.

We’re not sticking a plaster over a disability and hoping it goes away but we’re also not standing onstage with a massive light up sign with “LOOK, WE’RE DISABLED!” We’re just playing characters muddling through life, disabled or not. We do however use the production to highlight certain news stories like able bodied actors winning Oscars for playing disabled characters, or Donald Trump impersonating a disabled reporter, or the fight against PIP. It feels like we’re reclaiming the story as our own. Cor, that was a hard question to answer.

A musical is a massive undertaking – did you have misgivings before you got into the rehearsal room?
I actually trained in musical theatre at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts but this is my first professional musical so to be honest I was just buzzing to get started. A lot of casting directors wouldn’t (and still won’t) see me for musicals because of my wheelchair – partly due to casting but also simply because access in a lot of theatres is non-existent backstage. That’s what’s so brilliant about Ramps on the Moon, it’s such a great opportunity and hopefully makes directors, writers, casting directors, producers etc think differently.

You’re playing the role of Sally Simpson – how does she fit into the Tommy universe?
In our version of the show Sally is the same age as Tommy. She’s the Reverend’s daughter and grows up alongside Tommy and Cousin Kevin. She’s a bit of an outsider and doesn’t have many friends (typecast again, ha!). She learns basic sign language in an attempt to communicate with Tommy but he doesn’t want to know. When he becomes famous she absolutely idolises him even though he’s left her behind. I think all she really wants to do is belong to someone or something. I won’t say anymore because you should to come see the show to find out!

What’s been your favourite moment in the rehearsal room so far?
Oh gosh, there are too many. The first time we sang Pinball Wizard with the full band was pretty great. That was in our first week actually which is crazy – we’ve got a company made up of annoyingly talented actor musicians and every time I hear them play full out I get pretty excited! My other favourite moments are mostly made up of people falling over or baked goods. Tash, who plays the Hawker in Tommy has written a brilliant blog which covers all of our rehearsal shenanigans, I highly recommend reading it over a cuppa and a slice of cake.

Tell us in one sentence why people should come and see Tommy at Nottingham Playhouse?
Our production of Tommy is a really exciting theatrical experience, there’s nothing else like it and it’ll leave you wanting more!

tommy runs until this weekend at nottingham playhouse – book your tickets here now.