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Nancy Crane plays Alfieri in our co-production of A View from the Bridge, coming to the Festival Theatre stage from 6 to 28 October. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about her character and the show...

Nancy Crane in A View from the Bridge Image: The Other Richard

Can you tell us about your character? Do you like them? What do you think audiences will make of them?

It’s the first time a woman has played Alfieri, so it has been a joy working on the character with Holly and making her into what we think she is. Because we haven’t changed anything in the text, Alfieri has a wife, so is a queer woman.

Frank Peschier, the Literary Manager at Headlong, did some brilliant research about the few, very privileged women who became lawyers in Italy in the World War 1 period. The back story we came up with is that she was born in northern Italy, went to the University of Bologna, eventually qualified as a lawyer, and was about to start practicing in the brief period when women were allowed to just as Mussolini rose to power and again banned women from practicing law. That’s when, at the age of 25, Alfieri moved to New York.

Miller was passionately interested in the problem of living an ethical life and Alfieri, in this version, is compelled to examine where her actions fell short and she failed Eddie. Most of all Alfieri has been a team effort. My main contribution has been watching a lot of Italian movies - Vittorio de Sica, Rosselini, Visconti, Fellini, Monicelli, and a lot of Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni - and trying to get away with calling it “research.”

And, yes, I do like Alfieri. What audiences will make of her - I have absolutely no idea. She’s a singular figure.

How has the rehearsal process gone? What have been the joys/challenges?

The rehearsal process has been joyous. Holly has a talent for joy and it makes SUCH a difference in the rehearsal room - it gives people freedom and the permission to make not only mistakes but great discoveries. Wrong and Strong has been our mantra. For me, the big challenge is that, apart from my scenes with Eddie, my scene partner is the audience - the one element missing in a rehearsal room.

How do you feel on the cusp of sharing this show with audiences?

Since Alfieri is the plays’ narrator, or Greek chorus, I’m very excited to try things out in front of an audience.

Why do you think this play is seen as a masterpiece?

There’s a white-hot intensity to it, which isn’t surprising since the first version was written in 10 days. That urgency is very much in this version. Every detail of this play has been meticulously thought through. When that’s all put together it creates a terrible inevitability. When you get on that train at the beginning, the doors close and there’s no getting off until the end.

Find out more about A View from the Bridge and book tickets on our production page.

AView from the Bridge is CFT co-production with Headlong, Octagon Theatre Bolton and Rose Theatre.