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Lewes Live Literature - Sophie Woolley

Writer and performer Sophie Woolley takes her method-acting extremely seriously. Researching her latest one-woman show, When to Run, Woolley joined two running clubs, rented a flat in Docklands and devoured a wealth of detox and self-motivation material. This she turned into a fifty minute stage act in which she morphs between the multiple personas of a 15-year-old inner city girl, a self-obsessed professional, an overweight dog-walker and a damaged self-help expert. She even runs in her own time now, and is planning to take part in the London Marathon this year as a sighted guide for a partially sighted writer. “I used to think running was a silly thing to do”, she tells me, “and I am often inspired by bits of human behaviour that I don’t understand.” Hence using it as a setting for her show? “It’s playing with the inspirational, motivational sports thing,” she says, “and, yes, the dramatic scope of running is endless. If you look at various people on their individual runs it’s easy to start making up stories about them.”

32-year-old Woolley describes her act ‘as a bit like Alan Bennett’ but with inspirations taken from Nighty Night’s Julia Davis and Kathy Burke. It is her first solo show and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival to rave reviews. Not that she was happy with it at first. “The writing was good but I needed some more help with my performance - I needed a theatre director”. It came in the form of Gemma Fairlie from the RSC. “We worked on the physicality of the characters which is important because I switch very quickly between one character and the next.”.

Sophie Woolley: there’s method acting to her madness