Ruth Hayes Interview
IFM: First off Ruth, tell us a bit about yourself, and your background.
Well I’m a Corkonian woman born and bred. Despite my childhood dreams of having a Grecian or Italian ancestry, extensive delving into our family tree has quashed this fantasy. It revealed that the farthest our clan extends to is Galway! Great city, so I’m happy with that. I’m a city girl but now living with my little family in a beautiful seaside town to the east of Cork city.
IFM: How did you get into acting, and what’s your first memory of wanting to act, and perform?
In Cork we have a stage school called ‘Monforts’. I was the first girl in my family to be born after three boys. My mum figured that putting me into something like the Monforts was the perfect antidote for the previous nine years of footballs, bikes and general boyish pursuits. So at the age of four, I was enrolled and so began my stage school years of singing, dancing and of course – acting. Even though I had relatively little input in my joining, I took to it like a duck to water. Performing on the Cork Opera House stage at the age of four and five felt like the most natural thing in the world to me. I remember all the kids in our estate asking each other what they wanted to be when they grew up. Fireman, ice-cream man, nurse and teacher were the popular answer amongst my peers. When asked, my constant and fervent answer was always ‘A Star’! I cringe now at the thought of it but I guess it just goes to show that the desire to perform was always there.
IFM: You have extensive training behind you, give us an idea what you’ve done?
I did my acting exams during my stage school years with LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts). That gave me a great grounding in the basic principles of acting, reacting, diction, projection and movement. It was only in the past six years that my interest grew in screen acting. I knew that it was a completely different discipline so I retrained. I studied with writer/director Terry Mc Mahon in the Lab in Dublin; scene and character breakdown with LA acting coach Margie Haber; and several acting for camera workshops with Shane Munro; Nathan Slattery and the Irish Film Academy. I feel that it’s crucial to an actor to keep fresh and open to new methods of acting as a means to layer your performance, so I’ve done many workshops like the Chekhov technique with Paul Brennan and Acting workshop with David Scott.
IFM: What would you say is your best quality as an actress?
I take a professional approach to everything I do. Whether it’s a low budget independent short film or a big budget commercial or film, I make sure that I’m prepared, on time, I listen and I’m respectful to the talents of the cast and crew on set. I get on well with people and I feel that is essential when you’re working long hours and people are tiring.
IFM: What aspect do you enjoy most about acting and performing?
I love to create. I enjoy the process of becoming somebody else. I thrive on getting under the character’s skin and fleshing them out. What I love most, is playing an average person in an extreme situation and seeing how they react to their situation and circumstances. The rehearsal process is something I love; working with the director and other actors and exploring different avenues for the characters.
IFM: With your experience in Theatre, how do you find acting on screen compared to on-stage, and how do you approach each medium?
On stage, it’s current, it’s raw and electric. You have an audience in front of you and there’s always a certain energy that comes with them and you feed off that. You’re on your toes and there’s no starting over if something goes wrong. On screen it’s so intimate and you are vulnerable in front of the camera as it can pick up every thought and emotion. I love that! I always endeavour to find a way of delivering a sincere performance for both stage and screen, that’s the challenge. The approach is similar with both, as you still do your character and scene work beforehand. On stage I work on making sure that the person in the back of the theatre joins you in the journey; on screen I work on connecting with the other character in a very real way or with the emotion with complete sincerity so that the camera will pick it up.
IFM: You’ve acted in a number of short films. Do you feel it has prepared you to work in TV and film?
Absolutely! It’s a fantastic training ground for work in TV and Film. You get to know how to handle yourself on set and understand key phrases and terminology used. Working in front of the camera at the start is always daunting, but the more you do it the more you get used to it and you forget that they’re even there.
IFM: If you could offer up one piece of advice to someone starting out acting, what would it be?
Be prepared and listen. I know that’s two pieces of advice! Seriously though, there’s nothing worse than coming to a set and someone has not taken the time to learn their lines etc. It can hold everything up, and on a bigger budget project, time is a huge factor. So if you’re starting out as an actor, make sure you do the preparation and be on time. It’s also so important to listen to the director. He or she may ask you to approach a situation differently so you need to hear what they’re saying and execute it.
IFM: What’s next for you, and give us an idea what you’ve got planned for the rest of 2012 and beyond?
My brother is also an actor and I’ve been longing to do something with him for good while now. It’s hard to source a two hander play for a brother and sister so I’ve decided to write one! Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. So that’s what I’m working on at the moment and I plan to produce the play too.
Front slider photo by Karol Kachmarsky.