Bolton actress Maxine Peake swaps the theatre for the streets to sell Big Issue

SHE calls the Royal Exchange Theatre her second home, but Bolton actress Maxine Peake is usually treading the boards there, not selling the Big Issue outside it.

Maxine was selling the magazine as part of a campaign to support its sellers who are homeless.

The star, who won rave reviews for her performances in Hamlet and The Skriker at the theatre in Manchester was one of a number of celebrities to take part in the magazine’s Vendor Week campaign.

It also featured poet Lemm Sissay, who crew up in care in Leigh and Atherton and is now the chancellor of the University of Manchester, radio DJ and Inspiral Carpets keyboardist Clint Boon and Tony Lloyd, the interim Greater Manchester Mayor.

They all spent an hour selling the Big Issue in Manchester city centre to find out what it is like for the magazine’s regular sellers.

Maxine said it was “really hard” but an enjoyable experience to spend time with seller Monica, who she has met before while performing at the theatre.

She said: “It was fun, it was great to spend time with Monica, who is a Big Issue seller outside the stage door at the Royal Exchange, who I’ve known for a few years.

“People ignoring you and blanking you or looking at you quite disgruntled is quite a difficult thing. I did it for about an hour and I know Monica does four or five hour shifts. It’s destroying in some ways.

“People were lovely as well, so you’ve got that mix, somebody being a bit grumpy and then somebody being absolutely, so its quite difficult.”

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Maxine Peake ‘ignored’ while selling Big Issue

Actor Maxine Peake said she was “surprised how people just ignore you” while taking a real-life role as a Big Issue seller in Manchester.

The stage and TV star joined regular seller Monica outside the Royal Exchange Theatre to sell the magazine as part of Vendor Week, an international event which will see people around the world take a turn at street-selling for an hour.

Peake, who appeared in Silk and The Village, said she found it hard to deal with the number of people who walk past without speaking, adding that she did not know how Monica coped with it “without losing [her] temper”.

The Manchester event will also see poet Lemn Sissay, DJ Clint Boon and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd sell the magazine.

Watch the video here!

Maxine Peake: ‘Women are better than men at running theatres’

Maxine Peake has claimed women are better at running theatres than men because they are more adept at multitasking and often have smaller egos.


Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake at The Stage Awards 2016. Photo: Eliza Power

Peake was speaking at The Stage Awards about the work of Sarah Frankcom at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, a theatre she has worked with on a number of occasions. The actor said women were instinctively better at “keeping all the balls in the air”.

She told The Stage: “I just think actually women are probably better for running buildings, because they can multitask. And I think – without sounding terribly sexist, and I’m not saying across the board – they generally have a smaller ego.”

She continued: “There are female theatre directors out there with huge egos, I know. But I think they can deal with a building [better], because they’ve got that instinct of keeping all the balls in the air, and I think that suits women’s strengths.”

Peake was attending The Stage Awards with Frankcom, where the Royal Exchange was named regional theatre of the year.

The Bolton-born actor is an associate artist at the Manchester venue, and has repeatedly performed there over the course of her career – most recently in a staging of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker.

Peake also voiced frustration that theatres in Manchester are not recognised at the Olivier Awards, and said the awards should be expanded to include theatres nationwide.

She explained: “I get so annoyed because theatre is so London centric. People say to me: ‘Oooh, you’re not doing another play in Manchester?’. Well, why not? It’s a great place to be doing it, and there’s a regular audience there.

“But I think awards like the Oliviers – why should they just be London? It’s shocking. They’re televised. It should be nationwide. It’s like: let’s all just celebrate theatre that’s in London – well, it’s not always the best to be honest.”

She went on to suggest that critics of regional theatre failed to recognise that theatres outside of London have fewer resources.

“What people don’t take into account is in the regions we have less money, we have less time,” Peake said.

She added: “For a big show like Hamlet, we had five weeks. If you do it at the National, you get nine weeks. And then people review it on the same basis. And you think: we had two previews and then press night, they had two weeks and then press night. So let’s just put things into perspective.”

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Pre-Order Issue 29, Change Magazine featuring an interview with Maxine Peake

What is change? Is it the passing of time of the jingling in your pocket? Pre-order this issue to find out what changed us.

Plus: the Oh Comely team try and change their habits, a day out at the Butterfly Farm and we natter with Maxine Peake.

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