As the nurturer of a “not particularly subdued” personality, Claire Inie-Richards values occasions through which she can convey animated attractions to questioning the cosmos and enjoying her existence. Finding utter joy when channeling those penchants on stage, the 24-year-old is continuing her captivating connection with People’s Light by playing Marianne Dashwood, the equally opinionated teenager in Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.”
“She has thoughts on everything,” the Newbold inhabitant said of the youth, who, along with her sister, Elinor, the personification of sense to the younger figure’s sensibility, must muster the maturity to deal with perplexing circumstances as they come to contemplate love and loss while craving residential security. “We’re very similar in that we possess this romanticism about life that manifests in sometimes unreasonable idealism.”
Inie-Richards is tackling that duel between pragmatism and advanced optimism through Sunday. With one year as a company member of the Malvern-situated entity, she revels over being able to reach into her soul to bolster Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan’s adaptation of the enduring and endearing text, opining that the opportunity meshes with her other endeavors on the Leonard C. Haas Stage to present material with “a huge amount of heart, hope, and redemption.”
“It’s a company of loving people,” she said of the Chester County haunt with whom she has been affiliated for more than half of her life, having commenced classes there at age 11. “Being in this show, since we have such a large cast, I feel especially enthused about every chance to interact with them and learn from them.”
Cast in March 2015 to play Marianne, Inie-Richards, highly familiar with the character through a BBC production and the 1995 film version of the 1811 novel, with Kate Winslet playing the adolescent and the recently deceased Alan Rickman portraying eventual love interest Colonel Brandon, read the book three months later and eventually united the text and the adapters’ handiwork to craft a depiction that has thrilled her since the show’s Feb. 10 opening.
“She’s fairly young yet quite aware of the inconstant nature of so much,” the actress said of the 16-year-old. “Her lines are beautiful to read and speak, and I really commend everyone involved for taking a book that I frankly found a little difficult to make it through and giving us such an opportunity to shine. It’s projects like this one that really make me feel fortunate to be involved with People’s Light.”
Growing up not far from Malvern, the Kimberton product began her theatrical journey as a second-grader, noting that “being loud” helped her first performances to resonate with her as an indication of a possibly fruitful path.
“Everything felt natural,” Inie-Richards said of stages’ allure. “It was something that intrigued me, this whole idea of being a part of a story. Early on, of course, I wasn’t really focused on the sort of material that I was doing. Now, though, I’m constantly thinking about what stories I want to be a part of and what kind of connections I can make with my peers.”
Blessed with “a certain animation,” the young woman, having begun her professional tenure at People’s Light at 14, auditioned in Chicago for enrollment at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. The Cardiff, Wales-based conservatoire, which also educated Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins, gave her an enhanced sense of the intensity of her field but did not ultimately serve as a terrific aid in securing her employment in the United Kingdom.
“I moved to London and thought about having a career there,” Inie-Richards said of the immediate line of thinking following her June 2014 graduation. “I stayed there until December of that year because it just wasn’t working out.”
Half of her belongings remain in England, but her whole heart rests in Philadelphia, particularly South Philly, where she has resided since September. Living a purely practical life in a welcoming neighborhood, she looks forward to becoming familiar with the impressive crop of actors and actresses who call our expanse home.
“There’s never a shortage of theater in Philadelphia, and it’s neat to find out who’s who and what everybody’s story is,” Inie-Richards said. “I’m a pretty curious person, so it’s awesome to learn what people are up to and what sorts of tales they’re trying to tell.”
She expects to remain forever fond of People’s Light and lauds its output for being an extension of its nurturing identity. Like Marianne’s desire for economic surety, Inie-Richards’ quest for professional stability comes from a place of self-awareness and fiery consideration of the grander scheme beyond one’s confines. For People’s Light, through whom she will have employment next season, too, she has appeared in such revered works as “The Cherry Orchard,” “The Crucible,” “King Lear,” and “Twelfth Night.” Adding “Sense and Sensibility” to her ledger delights the budding hire, with Marianne’s lack of much of a filter serving as a fictitious match for her own want of a suppression button.
“It is great to be informed and to wonder about what’s around you,” Inie-Richards said. “When you have so many opinions, you take a few reasonable leaps to determine what’s founded and what’s not. That’s part of making the full transition into adulthood. I’m glad that People’s Light is helping me to do that, and I love that I’m picking up so much by living in Philadelphia.” ■
Call 610-644-3500, or visit peopleslight.org.
Contact Editor Joseph Myers at email@example.com or ext. 124.
PORTRAIT PHOTO BY TINA GARCEAU | STAGE PHOTOS PROVIDED BY Mark Garvin