Alex Kingston: We need greater diversity in theatre

The actress stars in a play that examines the collision between ambition and progressive values.

Alex Kingston has called for greater diversity in theatre as she spoke of her joy at returning to the London stage.

The ER actress will return to the West End in the play Admissions, penned by Joshua Harmon, when it transfers from New York’s Lincoln Centre Theatre.

She stars as Sherri, the head of admissions at a private school who is fighting to diversify the student intake but whose ambition collides with her progressive values when her son is deferred from his university of choice while his best friend – who “ticks more boxes” – is accepted.

Alex Kingston during rehearsal (Johan Persson/PA)

Kingston told the Press Association: “The theme is universal and I think that just from what I’ve read in the newspapers recently here regarding ethnicity and higher education, I think it’s incredibly topical and I think a British audience will completely get what the characters in this play are dealing with.

“I hope it really does spark the same amount of intense debate that it did in New York.

“All of the characters are right and wrong at the same time and so that is the thing that is most interesting.

“You can side with one character during the play and then all of a sudden you will see another side to their opinion that will make you go, ‘Wait a minute, what?’

“But then later on you go, ‘No, I actually do agree with them’, and it’s very fluid and very complex. But that is actually where we are at in society, and it’s how the hell we sort this out and … how far back do we have to go historically to even begin to sort it out.”

Alex Kingston is returning to the West End in the play Admissions (Johan Persson/PA)

Kingston previously starred opposite Kenneth Branagh in Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival in 2013, and Admissions marks her return to the West End after she appeared with Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the Garrick and played Lady Milford in Luise Miller at the Donmar Warehouse.

Kingston relocated to the UK from the US two years ago and said she is “loving” working in London again.

She said: “I’ve really missed it. The last play I did we never actually got to London with it, the intention was that we were going to but the other actors’ availability didn’t pan out and it never happened, and it’s just fab to be back in London.”

Kingston added that she hopes the play will bring in a broader audience than is customary in the West End, saying: “The important thing is to bring in an audience that is diverse.

“The majority of theatre audiences are white and so the hope is you will have people of different ethnicities coming in.”

Addressing how to diversity the audience for theatre, she said: “A little bit like the play, where does it start, where does it have to start?

“We are trying to be (diverse), in terms of casting. There was an absolute concerted effort to fulfil the diversity quota.

“Where are the people who are running these theatrical institutions? Aside from the Young Vic and a few, it’s still a white person’s world.”

Admissions runs at Trafalgar Studios from February 28 until May 25, followed by a UK tour until June 22.

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