I was born and bred in Nottingham, and for my first play in Notts to be John Harvey’s Darkness, Darkness with both New Perspectives and Nottingham Playhouse, is a real privilege as it’s a very personal story for me and my home town.
Set in Nottingham, the play focuses on Detective Charlie Resnick’s last case following the discovery of the body of my character, Jenny Hardwick; a young woman who disappeared during the bitterly-fought miners’ strike 30 years earlier. It moves between both 1984 and present day, opening old wounds sustained on the Nottinghamshire picket lines for many characters.
I was born after the miners’ strike and my first experience of it was seeing footage released of The Battle of Orgreave years after the strike had finished and thinking ‘that can’t be real’.
Orgreave 29th May 1984
Only recently I found out I had a connection with the strike through my Mum. I always thought that Nottingham miners had gone on strike, but only a very small percentage actually joined the pickets, the vast majority had continued to go to work. My Nanna mentioned that when she went away to Yorkshire during the strike she was told not to say she was from Notts because we were a ‘scabbing’ city.
Our play shows both sides of the strike; the miners who kept working and those that went on strike, including the flying pickets who came down to Nottingham from Yorkshire to persuade the men to stay away from work.
My character, Jenny, is married to a miner and chooses to go against her ‘scabbin’ husband to join those on the picket line, creating a huge rift in their relationship. Jenny is the kind of part you dream to play in that she’s not your average young female role. She’s a sparky, unpredictable, driven woman who is politically awakened throughout the play.
During rehearsals Harry Paterson, who wrote Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire, came in to speak to us about what the strike was like in Nottingham. He told us how the strike galvanised many women, who were used to building their lives around their home, to suddenly become independent, ambitious activists. These women then went on to attend University, become leaders and MPs, the likes of which they never thought would happen to them. Jenny represents those women and her journey through the play encapsulates that liberation.
The cast are a bloody brilliant bunch and Jack McNamara (the director) has established a very fun and creative environment in rehearsals for people to explore, play and take risks. Today we’ve been working on ‘the murder’ scene which is going to be so exciting. I’ve definitely come up with a few daft ideas which, thankfully, you won’t see!
Being very serious in rehearsals…
I was sat in the Nottingham Playhouse the night I decided I wanted to be an actor and being able to finally tread the boards in there is a real honour. Plus, the whole family’s coming too so the pressure’s on…
Please come and see us so it’s not just me Dad in every night.
Darkness, Darkness is on at the Nottingham Play Fri 30 Sep – Sat 15 October. Tickets are available from the Playhouse website or at their Box Office on 0115 941 9419.