Katie Bernstein on Power of Sail at Menier Chocolate Factory

This week sees the UK premiere of Paul Grellong’s Power of Sail at Menier Chocolate Factory, with a cast that includes Giles Terera, Michael Benz, Julian Ovenden and Katie Bernstein. Grellong’s moral thriller, directed by former Globe Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, investigates the thin line between hate and freedom of speech.

Kate Bernstein returns to the Menier having previously performed at the theatre in David Hare’s Habeas Corpus. She’s also been seen in the West End in The Man in the White Suit, The Play that Goes Wrong Mrs Henderon Presents and Urinetown (St James/Apollo), as well as the UK tour of Rent (UK tour) She’s also been seen on television in Amazon Primes’ The Devil’s Hour and Sky’s series The Tattooist of Auschwitz which stars Harvey Keitel. We caught up with her ahead of opening The Power of Sail to find out more about the show and her personal connection to her character.

Q&A with Katie Bernstein

What can you tell us about Power of Sail?

Power of Sail is a play about straddling the line between hate and free speech. It feels particularly topical at the moment with everything going on in America and our increasing access to speech on social media. It feels frighteningly more current than it was when it was written a few years ago, and I think it’s so interesting how all the characters navigate this topic all coming from different cultural backgrounds.

How have you approached the role of Maggie?

This part has been so interesting for me as a Jewish person, I feel connected to the subject matter before even speaking. So I’ve just tried to continue finding truth in how this person would slowly find her confidence through the play in standing up in what she believes in. I played another Jewish character last year, a TV role set during WWII (The Tattooist of Auschwitz), and it’s so interesting how both characters have the same feelings.

How has the rehearsal process so far?

It’s felt very organic, and I’ve felt open to make mistakes and try different things in the process of getting right! Very lucky everyone is open, from director to cast in making it feel that way. Was great to have Paul Grellong here on week one as well as talking to some real academics from Harvard, to get all the answered.

      What can audiences expect from the show?

      Surprise. Twists and turns. Characters finding strength in what they really believe, and so people are often not who you initially expect them to be.

      Is there anything you hope they take away from the experience?

      Hopefully a thought provoking experience, about the reality of history sometimes repeating itself along with the power of change. And kindness.

      Power of Sail is at Menier Chocolate Factory from 20 March to 12 May