UPDATE: After attending opening night we were blown away by the dazzling talent, the infectious music, the stand-out dance moves, the audacious wit and the powerful retelling of these stories - grab your chance to book tickets before the tour moves on (24 Aug - 5 Sept).
We caught up with Maddison Bulleyment who plays Anne Boleyn (beheaded) and chatted history, feminism, musical inspiration and trees.
SIX has become a genuine phenomenon. What is it like to be part of something which has been so critically acclaimed and also so popular with the public?
It’s such a rewarding feeling! Feel-good theatre is what we all need. People come happy and leave happier and it is wonderful to share that.
There have been so many creative interpretations of Anne Boleyn – it must be a thrilling part to play…
I love her. She is, like all the women, misrepresented. When she was beheaded there was a lot of slander and actual fear around talking about her. Opinions were silenced, which speaks volumes about what an intelligent, powerful woman she was. She stayed true to herself and her beliefs. She used her influence over Henry and their collaboration resulted in reforming the church. Really it was Anne who was part of that change. She was so fiery in a brilliant way, no wonder people questioned how dare a woman be so confident? I feel lucky to show her in a different light and also in a light-hearted way rather than the very serious man-hater. In rehearsals we talk about how we would act in the situation; ‘what was I meant to do? What else was she meant to do? And, to have such a positive reaction every night is wonderful.
Did you enjoy History at school?
I loved it. I didn’t learn much about the queens but I learned about Henry! For the show we were encouraged to read Lucy Worsley and Alison Weir - I found both really fascinating.
How do you unwind after a performance?
I generally get in, have a shower (it’s a sweaty show!), and have a bowl of Weetabix. I’m still on a buzz as we get so much energy thrown back at us, so takes a couple of hours to wind down. I text family, do a warm down, watch something light, like New Girls, then some calming music.
Which artists inspire you?
In rehearsals we were asked as actors to take into account the characters we play, but also the pop icons who inspire us. I very much drew from Lady GaGa and Billie Eilish. I also love Charli XCX – she’s got a very fun vibe which is really fitting for Anne Boleyn – and I really, really love Christine and the Queens. She does what she wants and she’s very bold and brave. These artists – oh, and Demi Lovato – are brilliant; they inspire me to go out and have fun.
If you could have been in any girl band, which and why?
Spice Girls are legendary. Little Mix are also brilliant, they’ve got a great vibe and are progressive, talking openly about being in a band and issues affecting young women. Their confidence helps raise confidence in girls.
We couldn’t help but notice your Instagram (@maddieroseb) features a lot of trees. If you were a tree which tree would you be? And Anne?
I’ve always loved an Oak – the leaves are very pretty and acorns are very cool. Anne would be a spiky tree or maybe a bush? A Holly with sharp edges and zingy berries.
You’ve achieved so much already. How would you like your career to develop from here?
Oh gosh. It’s interesting, I think for a while I had specific parts in mind and avenues that I wanted out of the industry but I’ve found a lot more joy in thinking I can be open to what comes along and where it takes me. Really, I want to achieve a very long successful career in this job that I love.
And finally, are you looking forward to being in Oxford?
Yes! I’ve been at the Playhouse before and I loved it. Two weeks will be great – I can’t wait. We’re staying quite close the theatre and there’s so much going on.
Maddison studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating in 2019 and immediately made her professional debut in the role of Carolyn in The Bridges of Madison County at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
To book tickets for SIX, visit oxfordplayhouse.com