An Interview with "Handbagged" Actress, Nora Hahn
What show are you in now and what character do you play?
I'm playing a young Margaret Thatcher, "Mags," in the play Handbagged by Moira Buffini. It's a fictional, behind-the-scenes imagining of what the relationship was like between Queen Elizabeth and former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It's a little like those scenes between Margaret Thatcher and the Queen in "The Crown," only a bit more revealing. What were they really thinking about each other? You'll find out in Handbagged.
What is your character like?
"Mags" is the quintessential British woman who came of age during World War II -- hardworking, family-oriented, loyal to the Crown, yet very much interested in politics and in making Britain better through conservative policies. She is strong, smart, tough as nails, diplomatic, and astute, yet tender and sentimental in her own way.
When does the show premiere?
We open on July 16th and run for three weeks.
Any fun facts you'd like to share about the show?
I love finding sections of the dialogue that are taken directly from her actual speeches and interviews. It is fascinating to see your character in action "back in the day," when she was making news and changing the world.
What have you learned about these main characters as you've worked on the show?
Regardless of what you think about them, Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher are two of the most groundbreaking women in politics. I didn’t realize how many times they met, and the breadth of the things they discussed. Now I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at every “audience” with the Queen during the Thatcher years.
Do you have to like history to see this show?
No, but it helps to be at least a little bit interested in what's going on in the world, and in politics in general. These women were front and center on the world stage for some of the most pivotal events of the last half-century -- the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the start of the EU, etc.
How did you first get started with theatre?
I wanted to do a show with my kids as a new way to spend some fun time together. We had seen Stageworks Theatre’s production of High School Musical and had so much fun watching it that we thought about auditioning for their next show. I got cast in that one, and then the next one, and then I got “acting fever.” Twenty or so shows later, I’m still having a blast!
What was your Stageworks debut show?
My first show was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in the mid-2000s.
Any fun stories about your Stageworks journey?
I think it was during Noises Off – a very funny play that was directed by Sean Thompson here at Stageworks – where the actors had a riot dancing backstage as the theme song from The Benny Hill Show played in between acts. During The Secret Garden, I used to hide quirky props inside the wheelbarrow of the actor who played the Gardener – a fake dead rat, a rubber chicken, a prop gun, etc. It’s the goofy, behind-the-scenes antics that create memories and build bonds with your theater “family.”
What's your best piece of advice for those interested in getting involved with theatre?
Audition, audition, audition, and then explore this new experience – find the shows you love, discover new ways to share your talent, hone your skills, and watch other actors to see how they portray their characters.
What is the best thing about Stageworks?
I love the friends I have made through this theater. It’s a wonderful way to find people who share a passion for telling stories and enjoying something we love. Although we are often very different, theater people have a way of bonding through the arts.
Handbagged premieres at Stageworks Theatre on July 16, 2021. Get tickets and join us!