Paula Brett has been chosen by Le Gateau Chocolat, to take over the main role in his acclaimed show ‘Duckie’.
Reimagined from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, Paula is putting their own twist on this show, inspiring families to celebrate self-expression with a message of self-acceptance, tolerance and belonging.
Duckie, starring Paula Brett, is at Battersea Arts Centre 15-19 February. All performances are Relaxed and Pay What You Can.
You’re taking over the main role in Le Gateau Chocolat’s Duckie, what can you tell us about the show?
Duckie tells the story of a fun loving, enthusiastic, friendly young Duckling. After being teased by his fellow ducks, he sets out to find new friends and find where he belongs, exploring the circus community he has been born into. What I love about this show is that it challenges that Ugly Duckling narrative of having to fundamentally change who you are in order to fit in – that isn’t the case for Duckie at all, he has to learn to be true to himself.
What was your reaction when you were asked to take over the role?
Really a rollercoaster of emotion – this was towards the tail end of 2021 and was a lovely surprise at the end of the year! I was so, so excited to work with Gateau and knew I’d learn a lot, which I have.
I was extremely nervous too, doing a solo show is a huge challenge and personally it has made me confront all the hang ups I’ve ever had about myself as a performer.
You have to meet all that “I’m not xyz enough” compassionately and go – well – I trust Gateau’s judgement, I trust the amazing team I’m working with, the audience will get Duckie and Me where we are at the time, which is what live theatre is all about. That’s what Duckie is about – what we bring with heart is enough.
How does this role compare to previous roles you’ve had?
This hands on, busy, high energy kind of show is right up my street. I don’t like to sit in the dressing room waiting for my scene, I like jobs where I can be manipulating the set, creating the world in a very present, imaginative way. One thing I love about Duckie is the homage to my dancing roots. I was a showgirl in a circus years ago, so it’s nice to revisit that showbiz style I love so much.
How will you put your own spin on the role?
Duckie’s story is beautiful because in many ways it’s so universal – we’ve all felt inadequate, we’ve all received criticism for things beyond our control. For me, I wasn’t able to really honour my identity until quite late – I realised I was non-binary in my late 20s, and was (finally!) diagnosed autistic last year.
There is an inevitable feeling of lost time, and for me Duckie is a way to revisit myself as a child – an enthusiastic, mischievous child who saw the world in a really beautiful way – and just give them some validation that they were wonderful just as they were, and yes – the world works in this really weird, rigid way and that constant sense of displacement was valid.
I hope the adults in the room get the sense that I, as an adult, am also speaking to them – this isn’t just a story for young people, it’s a human story. You’re Duckie perfect, too!
How have rehearsals been going and what’s your most memorable moment so far?
Rehearsals have been this weirdly peaceful oasis is the chaos of Covid! We have laughed a lot, partly because Gateau has injected so much delight and silliness into the bones of the show, but also ultimately it’s a group of people geeking out over a shared love of theatricality, which is glorious.
We have a tradition that everyone who works with us in the room learns Mark Smith’s BSL choreography to Somewhere Out There and we perform that together at the end of the day. Those have been some really special, memorable moments.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking tickets for Duckie?
Bring everyone! The little ones will enjoy it, the grandparents will enjoy it, everyone in between will enjoy it. It’s like a treasure hunt – everyone will find something for themselves.
Paula Brett will be starring in ‘Duckie’ at Battersea Arts Centre 15-19 February 2022. All performances Relaxed and all tickets Pay What You Can bac.org.uk/duckie