Soap star backs fight to save NTC

A SOAPSTAR has given her backing to a fund-raising campaign for a theatre company which helped develop her career.

Charlie Hardwick, better known as Val Pollard in Emmerdale, has lent her support to Northumberland Theatre Company’s (NTC) quest to raise money after two bids for funds from the Arts Council were refused.

The Wallsend-born actor has praised NTC’s artistic director Gillian Hambleton for her continued hard work and described the company as a ‘vital component’ of the arts world.

“I had the privilege of working with Gillian Hambleton at NTC in Country Voices when I was trying to establish a career for myself as an actress in my beloved native North East,” she said.

She said that her time at NTC stays with her for two main reasons.

She added: “Firstly there was the positive and hugely enjoyable rehearsal period with Gillian who empowers her actors, giving us the space and encouragement to develop and experiment with character and physicality, and a tangible feeling of inclusion in the development of the piece.

“And the overwhelming response and attendance of the audiences – little empty halls in the middle of nowhere were heaving by 7.30 in the evening – and their collective appreciation was quite staggering and exceedingly satisfying.

“It is rare as an actor to have such an overwhelmingly positive experience both creatively in rehearsals and physically in performance. This is a theatre company who knows and is loved by its audience, and that actors love to work for.

“I am not alone in having experienced this degree of satisfaction, and NTC has made a massive contribution not only to culturally starved, out of sight communities it plays to but also to the development of many performers in our region. Both established and new actors have benefited greatly from NTC’s role as an employer. Their support of burgeoning young talent in actor’s apprenticeship opportunities, is progressive and unprecedented.

“Many of us would not have been able to commence let alone continue without the commitment and encouragement provided by this dedicated company.

“Gillian and NTC are a vital component in the delicate cultural eco-system of our fruitful yet hungry region. I am eternally grateful for the part they played in helping me develop my career as an actor, and as an ambassador for my beloved North East.”

See Page 18 for a review of Hansel and Gretel, NTC’s autumn production.