Former War Horse actor and puppeteer Laura Cubitt is home for Christmas.
The Warwickshire-born performer and movement director is juggling two roles at the RSC’s Swan Theatre this season.
In Thomas Dekker’s Elizabethan comedy The Shoemaker’s Holiday, she is a seamstress, who has no lines “but farts a lot”.
And in Tom Morton-Smith’s major new play Oppenheimer, she plays a New York intellectual in 1930s Manhattan.
“Sorry about the wig,” she says in between rehearsals for The Shoemaker’s Holiday sipping herbal tea, banana in hand.
The wig in question is an auburn, tightly-curled, dishevelled bun, disguising her long bleach-blonde hair.
“In London we were rehearsing the Shoemaker’s upstairs and Oppenheimer downstairs .
“Some days I was hopping between playing a grubby maid and an intellectual psychologist and socialite attending cocktail parties in 1930s Manhattan.
“They couldn’t be more different.”
It is Laura’s first professional job at the RSC. She grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon where she attended The Willows Church of England Primary School and Stratford Girls’ Grammar School.
Laura, who used to work as a barmaid at The Dirty Duck opposite the RSC, says: “In The Shoemaker’s Holiday I am the lowliest of the low. I am a maid to Margary Eyre, who is the wife of the shoemaker. She’s a sort of invented character and doesn’t have any lines but she does fart a lot. I love hanging out with the shoemakers – they are the cool kids. The whole shoemakers lot are a rumbustious crowd – they all live and work together in a little micro-climate of society.
“It’s a real ensemble piece and deals with some burning social questions about society and class.
“It was set in 1599, but it’s so amazingly relevant. It’s just so modern in its tone.
“It’s going to be really exciting to put in front of an audience, more so than anything else I’ve been in.
“I cannot wait to see how it goes down. The design is really big, bold and beautiful.”
Laura is also playing Ruth Sherman Tolman in Oppenheimer, which opens at The Swan on January 15.
She was one of the three women closest to enigmatic American physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist often described as the father of the atomic bomb.
He married journalist and botanist Kitty Harrison in 1940; and continued a passionate love affair with psychiatrist Jean Tatlock.
Ruth was ten years older than Oppenheimer and married to another Manhattan Project scientist.
She was a psychologist, author and lecturer.
“Ruth had known Oppenheimer for years and years.
“They became very close and have a relationship.
“In the play he goes to her as a professional psychologist to ask for help.
“She is an amazingly intelligent woman and a forerunner of women in psychology. She worked for the CIA.
“All of the women in Oppenheimer are phenomenal achievers and highly intellectual in their own right.
“It’s the first time I have acted in a play based on real people.
“The research process was just fascinating. We all got really motivated by just scratching the surface of these lives.
“They were all socially motivated and learning about physics.
“We all did what felt like a physics GCSE. It’s fascinating and I am really keen to do something else science-based.”
In the summer Laura was in the National Theatre’s family production of Elephantom about a ghost elephant.
One of her biggest jobs to date was in Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse , which transferred to the West End after two critically acclaimed sell-out seasons at the National Theatre.
She was an actor and the puppeteer in charge of Joey’s hind legs and tail and associate movement director for the Berlin production of War Horse.
She said: “I was trained by the Handspring Puppet Company. We had a wonderful level of experience and had an amazing time. It was huge at the National but when War Horse transferred none of us knew how it would go. It was good training in a big ensemble and I’ve worked with people from there since.”
The Hull University graduate is thrilled to be working at the RSC.
“A lot of my friends work in the theatre.
“When I was a teenager I used to come to the RSC all the time.
“I would get a £5 standing ticket. I saw so many productions,” she says.
“I really enjoyed growing up in Stratford. I had a really nice group of friends at school and did lots of sport.
“I went to Hadland School of Dance and Drama since I was three and did lots of ballet.
“That was a really good training for getting into theatre. One of my teachers there put me in for The National Theatre when I was 15.
“My parents and school friends have all booked to come to The Shoemaker’s Holiday, as everyone is back for Christmas.
“Most people say: ‘Are you playing an elf?’ It will feel quite Christmassy – a lot of the themes are about generosity and the Christmas spirit.”
* The Shoemaker’s Holiday runs until March 7, 2015. Oppenheimer runs from January 15 - March 7, 2015. Ring 0844 800 1110 or www.rsc.org.uk