NEW YORK (AP) — Trudie Styler would love it if you came to her new play. Just don't tell her when.
"I never like to know who's in the house when I'm performing," she says, laughing. "I'm so happy to see everyone afterward, but please don't tell me who's there."
Any exceptions? "No, nobody." Does it even apply to the rock star Sting, her husband of 21 years? "Yes. I don't allow him to tell me when he's coming," she says.
Forgive Styler, 59, a bout of nerves these days. The former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company has only lately returned to the stage after many years as a film producer, businesswoman, philanthropist, environmentalist and yoga instructor.
She's making her New York debut this month in the Culture Project's production of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull." It is adapted by Thomas Kilroy and directed by Max Stafford-Clark, who lured Styler out of acting retirement in 2011 with "A Dish of Tea With Dr. Johnson."
"The Seagull" is a rueful meditation on the peculiarities of life and unrequited love. Styler plays Arkadina, a vain, impetuous actress who dominates both her neurotic son and her lover. Kilroy has changed the setting from late 19th-century Russia to Ireland.
It is a busy time for Styler and Sting, who has just released the new album, "The Last Ship." She's also produced two upcoming films — "Black Nativity" with Forest Whitaker and "Filth" with James McAvoy. And the last of their four children is applying to college.
Styler took time out to talk about the play and being Mrs. Sting.
AP: Why is this production set in Ireland?
Styler: The Irish are famed for poetry running through their veins, great passion, the love of the use of language. And let's not underestimate the appreciation of alcohol, which of course the British, too, share, I hasten to add.
AP: Are you saying the Irish are more passionate than the English?
Styler: Passionate meaning emotional. I mean it in a great way. It's a compliment. I've never really celebrated the stiff upper lip. England is not known for great passion and great poetry. It is much more held back and restrained.
AP: You're now a full-time New Yorker. Do you get chased by fewer paparazzi here?
Styler: I don't think we get that in either country. I mean, neither of us is spring chickens. We're hardly Brangelina. I think there's a lot of relief that we can get around the city easily. We're unbodyguarded. We have no posse.
AP: How do you call your husband at home? Is he his birth name Gordon Sumner or Sting?
Styler: He's known as Sting. I have my own personal name for him but that shall remain a personal name.
AP: Has it ever been hard to be married to a superstar?
Styler: I've never really had a sense that I am just Mrs. Sting. Indeed, I am Mrs. Sting and very proud and very happy that I am still Mrs. Sting, as opposed to Mrs. ex-Sting. But I'm a very busy person so I've always done things and got on with my life. We're a busy family. We like challenges and we like to be fully engaged with life. I've done that as long as I've been with Sting.
AP: You help many charitable causes, from water projects with UNICEF to the Rainforest Fund. How do you pick the projects?
Styler: Sting and I were saying last night that we have an awful time saying no to things and that it should be a new, better word for us. But there is a great need for many things and we recognize the great privilege that we have. When we can lend a hand, we do.
AP: You've had a long marriage, especially for a show business couple. Any secrets to that success?
Styler: Liking each other is mightily important. Our daughter made a lovely comment once at one of our wedding anniversaries. She said, 'My parents don't just love each other — they really like each other.' I thought, 'That's a lovely thing to hear.' That is absolutely true.