The actress, from Brazilian origin, plays in The Unknown Island showing in London until 7 October 2017, and has told BBMag with exclusivity details about her carrier, her life and future projects
Thalissa Teixera is part of the cast in the play The Unknown Island, produced and adapted by Ellen McDougall and Clare Slater. This is an adaptation of José Saramago’s inventive and beautiful short story, The Tale of The Unknown Island. It’s a story about getting stuck, about trying to escape, about shooting for the moon, about going further than the furthest thing. It’s a story about finding something you didn’t think you needed.
Thalissa Teixera’s theatre work includes Othello, The Broken Heart, The Changeling (Shakespeare’s Globe), Yerma (Young Vic), The Night Watch (Manchester Royal Exchange), BU21 (Theatre 503), Electra (Old Vic). Her television work includes The Musketeers; and for film, Take Down.
BBMag – Thalissa, let’s start at the beginning: where were you born and when? Where have you lived and where do you live now? Tell a bit about your family and your childhood.
THALISSA TEIXERA – I was born in the UK and moved to Brazil when I was one, with my mum who’s English and father who’s Bahiano and was raised in Victóra, Espírito Santo for nearly eight years before moving back and living in and out of London. I’m currently living in north east London and it feels good here, but I also think I’ll never be fixed to one place ever.
BBMag – What is your connection with Brazil today?
THALISSA TEIXERA – My dad and all his side of the family still live there and I go whenever I have a chance, maybe once every year or two. I go mainly to eat my grandma’s Caruru… Salvador, Bahia is where my soul seems to be the happiest- probably because I’m fed well and my bones are warm.
BBMag – How do you see Brazil and the Brazilian way of life?
THALISSA TEIXERA – For me, Brazil is where I can be a child again, largely to do with the way I’m devoured by family members each time I visit and I hurt all over with ‘saudades’ when the time comes to fly back to England. The pace of life in Salvador is not dissimilar to London for me, but the way of life, as in the spirit and the energy is phenomenally different- It’s more of a giant village!
BBMag -What is your perception of Brazil in the arts here in the UK?
THALISSA TEIXERA – Obviously the music has impacted the UK, in fact the entire world I should think- I live with musicians who aren’t Brazilian but know more Brazilian songs than I do. If you say the word Carnival to someone from here, they have an idea of what it’s like but in terms of literature, theatre, dance, art, less so. I do believe my interest to become an actress naturally sprang from the fact that Brazil is a natural theatre. People are performing all the time, whether is how they sing songs at barbecues to the way in which we recall stories to each other on the beach. People’s characters seem hugely theatrical in that sense.
BBMAG – And your interest in the dramatic arts and theatre, when did it first start?
THALISSA TEIXERA – I think it just accidentally came to be! When I moved back from Brazil, I joined a theatre group at the back of Church in Chalfont St Peter to make new friends and now I seem to still be doing my after school club as my career…
BBMAG – Tell us about the professional career and process you went through to get where you are today.
THALISSA TEIXERA – Well as soon as I left school I went to drama school at RWCMD in Cardiff and from there managed to get an agent which has opened many doors for me. My first theatre job was working with Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra at the Old Vic, directed by Ian Rickson which was mental, as it felt like only the day before I was trying to make friends at an after school drama club. I’ve been in a few productions at The Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, Yerma at the Young Vic and a BBC production of The Musketeers, all of which I’ve met glorious actors’ directors and designers- actually I’ve been very very lucky with the sheer talent of the people around me.
BBMAG – Tell us a little bit about the play The Unknown Island and about the character you play on it.
THALISSA TEIXERA – The Tale of the Unknown Island is a story written by the Portuguese writer José Saramago about a man who is in search of the Unknown. Our director Ellen McDougall and dramaturg Clare Slater have adapted the story to be told equally by four actors, almost as ourselves, which for me, questions the audience on the importance of stories and why we put ourselves in a room full of strangers to be entertained. It’s such a relief not to have to suffer at the theatre- both as actors and audience! I often think, why I have played a ridiculous amount of money to see this actor pretend to feel awful when actually what we need is beauty and connection and thought. The Unknown Island gives us a bit of that really.
BBMAG – What do you like doing in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
THALISSA TEIXERA – Making things, all sorts of things. I’m also part of a story telling group called The Embers Collective (https://www.theemberscollective.com) We tell stores all round London, which gives me an opportunity to do some creative writing – I’ve talked a lot about stories haven’t I? They must mean a lot then.
BBMAG – What is your recommendation for young actors who are starting their professional careers? Do you have any tips for them to succeed in their profession?
THALISSA TEIXERA – I always answer this question with ‘Listen’ and watch a lot of theatre and get to know what it is you like about performance.
BBMAG – Finally, please tell a little bit about your future projects.
THALISSA TEIXERA – Ah the future! That’s something else to know about for young actors, always be prepared not to know! There are a few things in the pipe line, but mostly uncertain bits clogging up my way to go on holiday to Brazil.
THE UNKNOWN ISLAND:
The Unknown Island play at the Gate Theatre in London is produced by Ellen McDougall, Production Artistic Director of Gate Theatre. Ellen directs Jon Foster, Hannah Ringham, Thalissa Teixera and Zubin Varla in the adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago’s short story running until 7 October 2017.
Gate Theatre: Above The Prince Albert Pub, 11 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HQ
Box Office: 020 7229 0706
Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Saturday matinees at 3pm
Wednesday matinees at 3pm
Captioned performance: 5 October
Previews and matinees: £10
Full price: £20
Under 26’s on selected Young Peoples Night: £7.50