We chatted with Mika Onyx Johnson about starring in Jamie Lloyd’s production of The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Hi Mika, how does it feel to be part of The Seagull?
It feels really good. It’s obviously a classic and I’m happy to be part of something so iconic. I have never actually read the original so reading Anya Reiss’ version for the first time was really exciting.
What can we expect from this production?
You can expect to be challenged as an audience member, having the ability to really tune into the words and the collective energy that we as a company are trying to bring, this production is very stripped back which allows you to really be immersed in the story with no distractions from set or props.
How does it feel to be working with Jamie Lloyd again?
Really cool, I think Jamie is an artist in his own right, I admire the way he works, he’s always trying to convey a story that goes beyond the surface, working with him allows you as a performer to reveal parts of you people may not always be able to see.
Could you tell me more about the character you play?
I play a character called Medvedenko, who is a working class school teacher, he is in love with a woman called Masha who doesn’t reciprocate these feelings. He has an obsession with money and a very low opinion of himself.
What do you think we can still take away from The Seagull?
I think there’s a lot to be taken away, we live in a very individualistic, capitalistic society, one that tells us we only matter if we’re doing this thing, or have that thing or look like this. A lot of the time we search for validation, affirmation in others, in romantic connections but what does it mean to be that for yourself? To strive to loving the many parts of you without other people’s approval? I think The Seagull can teach us to practice loving ourselves radically.
How would you describe your experience on working on the production so far?
Challenging and also very simple at the same time, in the best way. I’m learning a lot about myself and I’m recognising my own growth because I play this character and I think about the things I’d say to him, the words of encouragement I might give him. The production has allowed me to just be and not necessarily perform constantly, I think it requires a level of trust and vulnerability to just know it’s all working, I’m working with very talented humans and it feels really good.
By Emma Clarendon
The Seagull will play at the Harold Pinter Theatre from the 29th June until the 10th September. You can book tickets here.