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An Interview with The Snow Queen, Bristol Old Vic

Mark Douet

This season Bristol Old Vic stages the enchanting coming of age story The Snow Queen. Based on the classic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, the story is brought to life on the Old Vic stage with imaginative visuals, puppetry and electrifying performances, creating an atmosphere that is anything but frosty. We spoke to Zara Ramm who plays The Queen of The Sun and narrator about what we can expect to see.

How have performances been going so far?
It’s been lovely, we had two school performances yesterday, and they were very vocal and up for it!
Can you tell us a bit about the production?
It’s an ensemble piece, seven actors and three musicians. It’s quite physical, we have some puppetry controlled by some of the other actors – The Snow Queen is a beautiful white puppet manipulated by two of the actors and voiced by Gwyneth Herbert, and an amazing soundscape of vocals come from her. Although it’s not a musical there are a lot of music and songs in it.
Has it got a very Christmassy feel to it?
There’s no Christmassy jingly-jangliness to it, but it does have a warm feel and I think the snow really lends itself to it!  

Photo Credit: Mark Douet.
And tell us a bit about your character?
I play the Queen of the Sun, and I sort of act as a narrator really. I introduce the play and am always onstage and present in the first half, narrating the action as it goes on. I weave in and out of the characters but they obviously don’t see me. Gerda is on a quest, she doesn’t really know what she will find, but ultimately at the end we’re introduced and she’s told that she has to do something to save us all. It’s an adventure, a journey and a quest.
What’s it been like to work with the rest of the cast?
Absolutely delightful! It’s a very easy, laughy, generous company of people. We’re working closely with each other for a long time over Christmas, but they’re a lovely bunch and it’s always lovely to work at Bristol Old Vic: it’s a great place to be for Christmas.
The Snow Queen is obviously quite child friendly. Do you find you have to change your performance style when you have an audience predominantly made up of children?
Personally I think one shouldn’t change your performance at all for your audience. I think you’ve made your show and you just perform it and the kids will get what they get and the adults will get what they get!

Photo Credit: Mark Douet.
The Snow Queen has some quite dark elements to it as well, which is quite surprising for a Christmas play aimed at children. Would you say that The Snow Queen is a different experience from your typical pantomime or Christmas show?
I think it definitely offers something a bit different. It’s much more scary than we thought it was going to be initially. It doesn’t give you the glitz you might expect from a pantomime, but that’s quite nice. It’s very warm, it looks beautiful, the sets and lights are beautiful and it’s very engaging, but without some of the brashness you might expect from Christmas shows.
What’s it like to perform on stage every night?
Really theatre is where I feel happier. I think I really enjoy the live performance element, scary as it is. It’s an incredibly different skill I think, I love a bit of theatre, the ensemble of the rehearsal and the performance itself!
You’ve appeared in Bristol Old Vic performances before, is it good to be back?
Bristol is a fantastic place, a great city, and I think Bristol Old Vic is in a great place at the moment. It’s having a big refurbishment and people seem to be really excited about the productions going on there.
The Snow Queen runs until 15 January 2017 at Bristol Old Vic. Tickets are between £9.50 and £34. Find out more here