Miriam Margolyes: Arts are under threat

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Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes told PinkNews that arts are being threatened by cuts.

She said: “It’s very hard these days to put on shows and get money together for dramatic stuff, arts are under threat, and all of us who are artists know it – we regret it very much but it is the truth.”

Yesterday, she Miriam Margolyes spent the day rehearsing ‘My German Roots Are Showing’. It’s a play written by Deb Filler, the New Zealand writer and performer, and based on real events in her life.

Filler’s mother escaped anti-Semitic persecution in Germany, and the play is a fictionalised version of a mother (played by Miriam Margolyes) going back, unwillingly, to her home town with her daughter.

She says she wrote the piece with Margolyes – probably most well-known as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – in mind. Director Paul Dubois jokes that he persuaded her to take on the project because: “I bought Miriam pudding and of course she couldn’t resist.”

Margolyes says: “I wanted to work with Deb, because I think she’s incredibly talented, I’ve seen two of her shows now and I think she’s just remarkable. She’s a very funny lady. I’ve got no sense of humor whatsoever, so I’m rather up against it, I’m being shown up.”

On the subject of the piece, Filler says: “It’s based on a true story, I went with my mother to Germany a while back, and we found the Jewish cemetery that was in her father’s home town had been completely desecrated, and my mother managed to get the entire cemetery renovated, and back to life with the help of the town and the local Jewish community.”

On Wednesday, they will be performing a read-through, followed by a Q&A at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

It’s still something of a work in progress – although as Margolyes points out: “Everything’s always a work in progress, nothing is final.” But their rehearsal ahead of the public read through, they said, has helped to develop the piece enormously.

Margolyes says: “It’s very important that we get it as good as it can be and that we are all open to each others suggestions, which we are and can have fun doing it. It’s been a very fruitful days work.”

Filler adds: “I’ve had my tongue hanging out from awe, but as soon as we got on our feet, I started to really see it, and started to get the real first vibrations of what its going to be like.”

Dubois says: “What Miriam and Deb have been doing has been finding the truth of the piece, and that’s the important thing.

“We’ll be looking to the audience to see if it really does ring true, because it’s not just about the Jewish experience or the German experience, it’s about issues that a lot of us face about going home, and what is home.”

Filler agrees: “It’s a very universal piece even though Miriam and myself are of the homosexual persuasion.” (Margolyes: “I didn’t have to be persuaded.”) “It’s about family and love and home.”

In 2011, Margolyes said she dislikes playing lesbian characters as she is worried her co-stars will think she fancies them. She said: “I loath kissing women on stage or on screen. Absolutely loathe it. And I’ll tell you why, it’s because I don’t want them to think that I fancy them.”