The next interview in our stagey chat series, is with Phyllis Ho. Phyllis is about to star as Ariel/Boatswain in The Tempest, as part of the incredible Shakespeare in the Squares; which is returning for its fifth season on 15th June 2022.

Phyllis trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her theatre credits include The Mozart Question (The Barn Theatre, Cirencester), Life of Pi (Wyndham’s Theatre), Giraffes Can’t Dance (Curve, Leicester) and The Vagina Monologues (Ugly Duck).

Get yourself comfy and join Phyllis and I for a chat about all things stagey!

Hi Phyllis, thanks so much for chatting to Stage to Page today! How are you? And would you mind introducing yourself and telling us how you first got into acting?
Thanks for having me! I'm an actor who's originally from HK, grew up in Vancouver and am now based in the UK. I started performing as a musician as a young child and performed in school plays etc. I started taking it more seriously in high school, but I have a very distinct memory of being around 5, turning from the TV and telling my mum I wanted to be an actor so it's always been a goal. My first role was as a sheep in the nativity!

Over the past few years, covid has had a devastating blow on the industry. How does it feel to be back after such an extended break? 

Like everyone else I'm so excited to get back in the rehearsal room! I was lucky enough to get a job as an understudy as my first job back which let me ease back into it without too much pressure. It's been great to not only perform again but also go out to the theatre and see all the great shows that are on around the city, big and small.


You're just about to open The Tempest as part of Shakespeare in the Squares. How are rehearsals going? Can you give us any insight into the production?

Rehearsals have been intense and really collaborative. We've got such a great cast where everyone is so supportive and creative and playful, not least our intrepid leader Sioned Jones who really gives us space to try things out and share as much of ourselves with the audience as we can. There's music, there's movement, there's amazing costumes and I think it's going to be a really fun show to watch.


For those people unfamiliar, can you tell us about Shakespeare in the Squares?

It really is a wonderful idea - and I'm so pleased to see it back for its 5th anniversary! Shakespeare in the Squares is a non profit touring company where the shows are performed in a different London square almost every show. Our performances are all outdoors and adapted to each space, so it really gives us a chance to reach more audiences in different areas of the city, as well as keeping us on our toes! It also really invites the audience to experience Shakespeare as something to be enjoyed, and not just intellectually appreciated or belonging in a stuffy theatre. 


How does it feel to be portraying such an iconic character in Ariel, from The Tempest?

I've always loved to see the juxtaposition between Ariel and Caliban within the play. I haven't really thought of Ariel from the iconic point of view, I think as an actor you need to take the character as it is and work from there. There are a lot of elements of the character of Ariel that are close to myself, but amplified, so it's been really freeing to explore ways of expression that the character affords because she is out of the human dimension. We also loved exploring the fact that even though Ariel is used to play tricks on Caliban, he also speaks of lovely music that calms him and makes him have good dreams, so I like to think that Ariel has a soft spot for him when Prospero isn't looking.


Regardless of gender and age, which stage role would you choose to play and why?

Oh gosh! Impossible question to answer. I would love to play a character like Elphaba but am not a singer so that performance will have to stay confined to my living room. (sorry neighbours) I just love musicals.


What are you most excited about for starting the run of The Tempest? And why should people book tickets to see the show?

We have so fully packed the show with fun details for the audience that I genuinely cannot wait to share it with our first crowd. This is a different Tempest full of light and joy and it will be absolutely unique to this company and to the square that you come to. No two shows will be the same and each one will be really special.


A more light-hearted Tempest inspired question - if you were shipwrecked, which three personal items would you try to save and why?

My violin provided it hasn't been soaked. Honestly can't think of any others. Is a husband considered a personal item? Or is it rude to drag him into my dire situation...


My blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?

Not a light hearted choice but there is a book I read in uni that's always stuck with me called Ordinary Men. It documents how a unit of reserve policemen who were average middle aged men became a unit that killed tens of thousands of Jews in WWII. I think it's important to realise that it was not only fanatical evil men who committed atrocities but that under the right conditions any of us could have done the same. I also believe in the power of theatre and storytelling to help us learn about the human condition and help create a better world. While I love my comedies, theatre is a medium that can take a really heavy and tough topic and delve right into it, heart and guts and all. With everything going on in the world today, I feel like stories like this really need to be told.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us. You can catch The Tempest, touring around London this summer, until 8th July. You can purchase tickets, here

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