Between them they are going to be thoroughly evil this Christmas. Molly Peel and Emma Read want nothing better than to scare you.
They will be performing in alternate shows for Chichester Festival Youth Theatre as the Grand High Witch in Roald Dahl’s classic tale The Witches, adapted for the stage by former Chichester schoolboy David Wood.
The Grand High Witch has hatched a terrifying plan to rid England of its children; only a wise and wonderful Grandmama and her darling Boy can stop them as they prepare to face the most gruesome gathering of witches ever assembled.
Molly, aged 17, a student at Bishop Luffa, sums up her part: “She is basically a child-hating dictator. She is a psycho. She has got this group of witches who are her followers. She controls them, and they are hypnotised by everything that she does. They look up to her like she is some kind of god... and she is great fun to play.
“I can just go crazy and really get into the character,” says Molly, who confesses: “I always seem to get picked for evil parts. I was the Queen of Hearts. I was the White Witch in Narnia.”
Emma, a student at Portsmouth Grammar School, is similarly relishing the thought of slipping into the role: “You have just got to become a different character and think of the aims and objectives.”
“It’s almost like she has got schizophrenia,” says Molly. “You have got to act being evil, and then suddenly click and take it to a totally-new level of evilness!”
For Emma, the key is the voice – plus a little secret she won’t be giving away in advance.
“Sometimes it is a challenge to find that other person that is not yourself, but you become that character almost. Not everything is in the script. You have that context, but you have to think about the character, where she has come from, how she has become so evil, how she became the Grand High Witch. Thinking about all these questions is a necessity for the actor. You have got like the skeleton that you have got to put the skin onto.”
Both Molly and Emma are determined that this is where their future lies.
“I have always had an undying love for musicals,” says Molly. “Ever since I was little, I have gone to see plays. I just like the feeling of how the actor on stage can captivate the audience more and more taking you into a completely-different world for two hours. I have always wanted to perform on stage, to be the one that takes the audience into a different world because I have seen for myself how fantastic it is to be taken there.”
Emma will certainly be applying to drama school next year to do musical theatre; she is thinking about Central and GSA as places to further her studies: “I have heard really, really good reviews.”
Molly will also be applying. Her top choice would be Mountview, but she too will be looking at GSA, plus Arts Ed.
“You have got to think about your options and make it happen. I really can’t think of anything else that I want to do so much. You have to have that drive rather than just thinking ‘Oh, it’s something I would quite like to do’. It sounds a cliché, but you have got to really fight for it.”
Emma is convinced they are both on the best possible platform: “The youth theatre is great, especially doing this production. You have got to grow as an actor, you have got to take any experience, you have got to see other shows, you have got to learn all the time.”
Tickets for the show are available from Chichester Festival Theatre on 01243 781312. The Witches is in the Minerva theatre from December 7-January 4.