×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stagecraft Podcast: Billie Piper on Updating ‘Yerma’ for the Modern Day

“I didn’t want to be weaving baskets and lamenting about the oxen.”

That’s the actress Billie Piper talking about “Yerma” on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. Piper, best known in the U.S. for TV roles in “Doctor Who” and “Penny Dreadful,” delves into her lead role in the contemporary adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1934 play, a performance that she’s currently reprising at New York’s Park Avenue Armory after it won her an Olivier Award in the U.K.

She loved the original play, she says, but she wasn’t so interested in doing the role with all the trappings of the period (like those baskets and oxen). That’s why she leapt at the chance to work with writer-director Simon Stone on the new, updated version that’s playing at the Armory through April 21.

“Yerma,” about a woman driven to extremes by her inability to conceive a child, takes the actress to some very raw, vulnerable places, but she seems to take it all in stride. “I find it quite a cathartic experience, myself,” she says. “I feel like theater satisfies me in that way, sort of gets rid of loads of my own stuff. You’re done by the end, but I don’t know that it’s a massive sort of dark toll that it takes on me.”

On Stagecraft, Piper also touches on her early days as a U.K. pop star and her transition into acting — including her time as a cult-favorite companion in the 2005 revival of long-running TV franchise “Doctor Who.” “I never watched it as a kid, and I’m not a sci-fi fan,” Piper laughs. “It had very little interest to me. But it’s been a bit of a life-changer, that. It’s huge.”

She also talks about what’s up for her next — and the musical that might be in her future.

Download and subscribe to Stagecraft at iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

More Legit

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • By the Way Meet Vera Stark

    Off Broadway Review: 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' by Lynn Nottage

    After writing two harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, “Sweat” and “Ruined,” Lynn Nottage is entitled to have a little fun. But while this revival of her new play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” walks and talks like a screwball comedy, it has a real brain in its head. Before we get too serious, let’s meet [...]

  • Merrily We Roll AlongRoundabout Theatre CompanyMERRILY

    Off Broadway Review: 'Merrily We Roll Along'

    Like the optimistic youths at the end — or is it the beginning? — of “Merrily We Roll Along,” creatives keep going back to this problematic Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, re-imagining the show in the hope that the end results will be different this time around. They’re not. But disappointments are often off-set by new [...]

  • My Fair Lady Laura Benanti

    Listen: Laura Benanti on 'My Fair Lady' and the Secret to Her Melania Trump Impersonation

    Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of [...]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content