Coronation Street actor Catherine Tyldesley has described how she swapped the cobbles for the stage to star in a play she wrote herself.
She is well known for starring in the TV soap opera playing the infamous, feisty character of Eva Price, for seven years from 2011-2018.
More recently though, she has spent time during lockdown writing her own play called The Ceremony. The first online performance took place on December 13 and the show is due to run for ten performances in total.
Catherine said: “I have literally been writing for years and I had all of these ideas in my head for different characters. I have always loved writing but never really had the time to put the full script together. I had been toying with these main characters for a while and one of the central characters, Donna Dium, is a character that I just find hilarious and I hope that the audience will too.”
The play itself is filmed on an empty stage at the Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, and is directed by Lee Salisbury, produced in association with Stream Theatre. It is then broadcast online.
Video Credit: The Ceremony
The plot centres around two main characters, Donna Dium, a Life Coach and self-taught Shamaness, who stars alongside her long suffering assistant Ada.
It is set on Canal Street in the heart of Manchester and following a number of appearances on a range of different chat shows, equipped with £50 worth of Ayahuasca from Bury Market, the scene is set for Donna to make her first ever attempt to contact the spirit world.
The evening soon turns into chaos as her guests begin to purge themselves of their inner, hidden ghosts.
The actor added: “The hours at Corrie were wonderful but intense, and I found that during the first lockdown it was the perfect opportunity to finally make time to look through these ideas. I sent the script down to a producer in London, Hamish Greer and I only really wanted his opinion but he agreed to do it so I was thrilled to bits!
“One of my friends Ashleigh Guthrie is a healer and I based Donna Dium on her but made sure she did the opposite of everything Ashley did. The research side was really interesting, especially when it came to researching the drug Ayahuasca, as it was something that I had never heard of before and it is illegal in this country.
“In terms of the comedy side of things, when doing my research, I just found it hysterical watching all of these self proclaimed voice coaches on daytime television and I remember meeting a life coach at a party once. Bear in mind it was the first time that I had met this woman. She just said to me ‘I feel like I am getting something from your ancestors!’ It was just comedy gold so it just went from there really.”
Catherine stars alongside BAFTA nominated, British Comedy Award-winning actress and Royle Family legend Sue Johnston.
Samantha Giles from Emmerdale, also stars in the production alongside Jodie Prenger; the winner of the BBC’s show I’d Do Anything and star of Coronation Street‘s musical Street of Dreams, who played the role of Elsie Tanner.
Emmerdale’s Stephen Rahman Hughes also stars in the show, alongside Coronation Street’s Paula Lane.
Catherine also went on to discuss the impact that the pandemic has had on the acting industry as well as her thoughts on being a part of Coronation Street, following its 60th Anniversary.
She said: “This pandemic has been so tough on everyone, but it has hit the arts sector the hardest. Ignore Rishi and his outrageous campaign. The fact that you can squeeze people on an airplane but you cannot let people fill a Covid secure 100 seated theatre is madness!
“The performing arts sector has been completely screwed over during the pandemic and there is just no excuse for it. The one thing that I would say to any aspiring actors is that if you are an aspiring performer, never ever give up on your dreams. There is always a way for us all; whether that be through streaming theatre online, or outdoor theatre, or indeed a Covid-19 safe theatre; as soon as Rishi wakes up and realises that that is the way forward!
“We have got to realise and know that the performing arts industry, and entertainment industry have always got us through hardship and tough times.
“I think that is why so many people were thrilled when Strictly started this year. A little bit of sparkle and joy away from all of the rubbish and difficult times. It is so important that we continue to nurture our blossoming artists because we will always need the arts. It is just so incredibly important to support the industry.
“Being in Corrie was just a wonderful experience; it has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. I still pinch myself sometimes and it was such a dream to be a part of it all. It’s such an institution and I truly and honestly believe that it will still be going in 100 years time. It is so well loved and is always character lead which is so important to viewers and to me as an actress. It has been an absolute honour to be a part of something so special and close to my heart.
“I’m really hoping that this play has a really special place in many Mancunians’ hearts because I feel like there is a real offering of different characters within the play that people can relate to. I have been inundated with messages already, especially from Northerners saying how much they liked it. As a actor, that is all I can ask for. I am thrilled to bits.”
Video Credit: Coronation Street
For tickets, visit the Stream website.
All of the proceeds from the play go back into various arts organisations and charities that have been impacted by the pandemic: Acting for Others, Leeds Heritage Theatres and Acting for Others.