Meet Karina Garnett – ‘Sybil’

Sitting across from Karina, I am amazed to think that just the previous night I merely knew her as the sometimes annoying, but endearing, Sybil. There are only a few minutes before call time, but Karina is gracious enough to answer a few questions before she transforms into character.


It turns out that Karina started her acting career rather early, first getting involved in the arts when she was fourteen years old. Her friends convinced, or rather ‘dragged,’ her to an afterschool drama programme and landed her first role in a play. ‘So since you were 14 you knew that acting was your calling?’ I wonder. Karina explains that acting was the ‘main thing where anyone ever really said, “Oh, you did that really well” ’ and thus this natural talent pushed her career in theatre.


© Michael Wharley Photography 2014 Cropped Karina image











Intrigued by her start, I ask about her involvement in mask theatre, where one tells a story without words and only props: ‘You have to be very clear what’s going on because there isn’t any dialogue. But you can perform it all over the world because there aren’t any language barriers’. And how has her history with mask theatre impacted her experience when playing Sybil? ‘It has made me be more aware that the tiniest thing is often the most important thing. I have heard so many times that less is more, and even when I think that I am doing less, I’m told that I’m doing too much. It’s important to think what’s the most honest way of acting, do you believe it, and can the audience believe it, yes or no.’


So how has Karina’s relationship with Sybil evolved since performing Faulty Towers The Dining Experience? ‘I love Sybil more now. The longer you play a role, the more you discover the nice and annoying parts of their character. Even when watching the TV series, I’m always looking at her more than the others… what is she doing in the background? What are the things that catch her eye?’. Through this deeper understanding and connection with Sybil, Karina is better able to show the audience the many different sides of her character: ‘Going around talking to the audience, I get to show them the nice side of Sybil, the side that’s not always visible.’


Knowing that Karina is playing Sybil at Brighton Fringe in May, I wonder how performing at a festival differs from a regular show experience? ‘For me the shows themselves aren’t different, it’s really all about the individual people in the audience. Are they receptive, are they into it? Whether it’s a festival or a non-festival performance, you can get a variety of audiences and each one changes the show.’ So what can the audiences at Brighton Fringe Festival expect from Sybil? ‘They can expect a wonderful performance and lots of fun – if they behave themselves. If they don’t, I’ll have Basil kick them out!’


Written by Shelby Lewis, Marketing Intern.

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