An interview with Nicola Gardner

Before the big reveal of her opening comedy play, ‘The Community Centre’, TNT sat down with the playwright herself for an exclusive insight of both the play and the ideas behind it.

What were your inspirations when first writing the play?

“‘The Community Centre’ came out of an idea that we needed to promote diversity and inclusion, and what better place for a gathering of people than a community centre? I wanted to create a multicultural production which allows minority actors to showcase their skills in a big way – to take on big roles and demonstrate the melting pot of cultures that we have in Manchester”.

The play is set around a comical day in the life of a community centre in this city. Why did you choose Manchester?

“I grew up here. I went to Manchester Central Grammar school which is now The Manchester College. I know Manchester so well and it’s my hometown”.

What made you decide to hold open auditions for the character of Marvin?

“The idea of a community centre is that it is a place which provides people with the chance to experience new things and offer exciting opportunities. Our decision to hold open auditions for Marvin ties in with this idea – we held auditions for people who may not have had experiences in acting, but wanted them. It’s hard to get into the acting world and to get on film. We created a show reel and compilation for all the actors that auditioned. We also uploaded the footage onto YouTube so that the young actors can show casting directors what they’ve done”.

With such an extensive background in acting/ theatre performances, what made you decide to start writing?

I’ve had several acting roles in the past including parts in ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Emmerdale’ & ‘The Royal’. My biggest claim to fame was my featured role as Vonnie Johnson in ‘Brookside’. With two large parts within the play, the production will be a phenomenal showcase for my writing, acting and directing”.

Do you think your experiences as an actress have helped you become the playwright you are today?

“I’ve been in quite a few comedy productions and as a stand up comedian I wrote a lot of comedy sketches and this definitely informed the way I wrote the play. I know what makes people laugh”.

Is this the first play you’ve ever written? And are there any plans in the making to write any more?

“No, I wrote my first play, ‘Blood Sister’s Reunion’, with two other actors and it received a very good critical response. However, this is the first play that I wrote solely on my own. I have very nearly finished my second play, and it is currently in the midst of consultation with theatre directors”.

‘The Community Centre’ debuts on Tuesday 20 September at Anthony Burgess Foundation Engine House.

TNT Arts & Culture Alexia Hendrickson

Photo Credit: Nicola Gardner

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