STEVE PRATT finds there’s no clowning around for Kate Hampson, who plays the title role in The Coppergate Woman

The schedule for York Theatre Royal’s summer community production of The Coppergate Woman meant that the only professional actor in the cast of 90 didn’t join the company until rehearsals were well under way.

Yorkshire actress Kate Hampson sums up the experience as “daunting and exciting”, explaining “I’m eager to see what the rest of the company have been doing, what they have made and how I might fit into that.

“This is my first time working with a community cast. I’m really looking forward to the collaborative experience on something we can all own together. I want to be set of that community.”

She was familiar with the Coppergate woman, the role she plays in Maureen Lennon’s epic play based on the woman whose bones were found near the River Foss and which are now on view in York’s Jorvik Centre.

“I knew about her from taking my children to Jorvik when they were young. At one point it seemed we were going every week,” says Kate, who lives in York. “It’s quite a privilege to be playing a real person – wondering what she looked like, what she thought and what her origins are. You want to honour her, as you would with any real person you play.”

Maureen Lennon’s play finds the Coppergate Woman rising from her Jorvik glass case to travel to crisis-hit modernday York.

Although she has taken part in Theatre Royal play readings Kate hasn’t appeared in a production there, unlike actor husband Julian Kay whose credits include York pantomimes. Their son Arthur, 14, has already started acting with roles in Doctor Who and Brassic to his name. Kate knew she wanted to be an actor by the age of eight. I went to a school that was really great with the arts and went every year to the National Student Drama Festival.”

After training at York St John University she opted to study at the Utrecht School of Arts rather than drama school. “I wanted to be a clown, but that felt a bit niche so I took up acting. I still think that

training is great for showing how to play an audience – and that’s the most important thing.

“Now I feel very lucky to be working in the city I live in and in my local theatre”.

The Coppergate Woman: York Theatre Royal, 30 July – 6 August. Box office 01904 623568/