Entertainment & Arts

Laura Marling faces 'fear' to compose Shakespeare score

Laura Marling
Image caption Marling said said she was "daunted" when the RSC first approached her

She has already won a Brit award and been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize twice.

But singer-songwriter Laura Marling's latest project marks a change of direction.

She has composed the music for a new production of Shakespeare's As You Like It, which opens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on Wednesday evening.

"I got the real fear about doing this," she told the BBC.

She said she was "daunted" when the Royal Shakespeare Company first approached her.

"I have no knowledge of theatre and I'd say not a huge knowledge of Shakespeare either."

Image caption Having seen the cast in action, Marling is not tempted to try acting

But she was also intrigued. As well as writing the music, she adapted the words of the songs that are already in the play. "I wanted to shake it up a bit," she said.

A self-confessed neurotic, Marling has described her music as "melancholic" and "reflective". "It's very insular, I live it to some extent."

But although she is not known for her light-heartedness, she enjoyed the challenge of writing the music for one of Shakespeare's most famous comedies. And she said would like to write more music for the stage.

But she is not remotely tempted to try her hand at acting. "Absolutely not. That does not lie within me in any way."

Marling is only 23. She has been playing the guitar since she was five and was soon writing and performing her own songs. By the age of 16, she had dropped out of school and been offered a record contract.

Image caption Pippa Nixon plays Rosalind in the play

Her parents were "justifiably terrified" when she told them she planned to move to London. But they had run a recording studio together, so the music world was not completely alien to them.

"They patted me on my back and off I went with my guitar - and that was that," she said.

She has not looked back and is set to release her fourth album, Once I was an Eagle, next month. And she is performing at the BBC Proms later this summer.

But despite her success, she prefers to stay out of the limelight.

And she is scathing about television talent shows such as The X Factor and The Voice. She said she cannot bear the way "they make a human zoo of people and their dreams".

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Media captionLaura Marling talks about making the music for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of As You Like It.

And she added that the programmes were "an awful part of our society".

End of career

She believed they teach "the wrong thing ... that you want fame. It's not that you want fame, you want satisfaction, which is a very different thing".

After several years spent touring, Marling has recently moved to Los Angeles. "I needed a little break from the UK," she explained.

And while she said she missed her family and friends "painfully", she said she found California "incredibly magical and beautiful."

"I've got space out there," she added. "And I feel sort of limitless and I enjoy that feeling."

There may be even more change on the horizon in the future. Much as she loves music, Marling said she can envisage a time when she will walk away from her career.

"I don't see myself doing it forever, because I don't think it's any way to live, full-time."

Image caption The singer says the only thing she is good at is "playing the guitar"

And she said there was a lot more that she wanted to do.

"I'd like to do some more thinking, and some more reading. I'd like to be better informed in general."

"But there has always been a lot I'd like to do."

There is a caveat however.

"The only thing I'm good at is playing guitar."

"So, that's worked out nicely," she added with a wry laugh.

As You Like it is running at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 12 April to 28 September 2013 and at the Newcastle Theatre Royal from 29 October to 2 November.

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