Fond memories of her late grandmother will be inspiring Abigail Ockwell as she takes to the stage this December for the Chichester Players.
Abigail, who works at Chichester Cineworld, will be playing Lucy in some of the performances of the Players’ production of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe which runs from Thursday, December-Sunday, December 9.
“Really the main influence on me was my grandmother Joan Jones who was an actress under her maiden name Joan Cairncross. Sadly, she passed away last year on Good Friday. She was coming up for 93, but she was such an influence on me. She would always help me go through my lines. When I did my first production at West Dean (for New Theatre Productions) about three years ago, she helped me. Sadly that was the last show she saw me do.
“She went through the industry and to see her only grandchild following what she did made her so proud. My mum really wanted to do acting, but my grandfather convinced her not to. For my nana to have seen me carrying on made her really, really proud.”
Abigail has been trying for drama school and is keen to keep trying. She is certainly building up plenty of experience. She has now done three productions for New Theatre Productions, and this will be her fifth for the Chichester Players. Her first was A Chorus of Disapproval, then The Regina Monologues, then three roles in All Gas and Gaiters and then the other last year in The Wind in the Willows.
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was a show she was very keen to be part of: “I grew up hearing these stories of Narnia. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was the first one and my mother read it to me. That’s the one that is most known, and then when I was nine the new film adaptation came out. It is one of those stories where you can just get lost in the world. Narnia is a place which looks different in different people’s minds. You have got the snow-covered land. You have got Aslan the lion that signifies Jesus, but it will change for everyone.
“I think the character Lucy represents somebody’s imagination. You have got Peter who is the serious side. Edmund is the side that everyone wants to hide, the side that you are not proud of, and there is Susan who is the side that is saying ‘This is actually real. We have gone through the wardrobe into Narnia.’
“Lucy is the youngest of the family and it is Lucy who discovers Narnia. She is strong and feisty and when the other three don’t believe her, she gets quite upset. She is being called a liar and being told that it is just her imagination that is getting away with her. But Narnia is almost Lucy’s world. She discovers it and brings the others there. She is the youngest. She is the purest. She doesn’t really know evil even though they have been evacuated. She doesn’t understand all the bad. When they are fighting to regain Narnia, she starts to realise this is life, that bad things happen, but she is always trying to have a positive outlook on everything.”
Performances of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe are Dec 6, 7.30pm; Dec 7, 7.30pm; Dec 8, 3pm; Dec 8, 7.30pm; and Dec 9, 3pm. Abigail will be performing on Friday plus Saturday and Sunday matinee. The show runs at the Centenary Theatre at Chichester High School in Kingsham Road. Tickets www.chichesterplayers.org.uk.
Director Barry Jarvis said he was thoroughly enjoying his journey through Narnia: “The 20-strong company are a joy to work with especially the children who get stronger and more confident rehearsal to rehearsal.”