Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tv's Melanie Snaps Up Chanceto Return to Stage at Exchange ; Hill Stars in New Play That Tests the Boundaries of Reality Directed by Theatre's Award Winner

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tv's Melanie Snaps Up Chanceto Return to Stage at Exchange ; Hill Stars in New Play That Tests the Boundaries of Reality Directed by Theatre's Award Winner

Article excerpt

www.thegigcartel.com presents MELANIE Hill's resume includes some of the best-loved British television shows of the past 25 years, from Bread and The Bill, to Playing The Field and the soon-to-end Waterloo Road. But for the first half of October she'll appear in a brand new piece of drama at the Royal Exchange Studio, entitled Crocodiles. So let's talk theatrefi "My drama teacher asked me to play Tituba in The Crucible at school.

"I'd never acted before, but I did it and I loved every bit of it," Melanie explains. "Then I did Lorca's Blood Wedding the year after, and then I applied to RADA and got in." What did a young north east lass make of RADA and the big city? "It was a culture shock for sure. I'd never left Sunderland before.

"Thank God I stuck with it though, it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me."

Recently, actors David Morrissey, Judi Dench and Will Mellor have all voiced concern that elitism is in danger stifling a generation of working-class acting talent.

Is that something Hill can see happening? "Unfortunately, yes. I had a grant to study at RADA, and they even encouraged us to keep our regional accents.

"Things have changed.

The grants have dried up. Drama school costs so much. You might be a brilliant instinctual actor but you might not make it."

If the future of English drama seems a little uncertain for now, there's still no shortage of exciting new writing, like Crocodiles, written by Lee Mattinson and directed by Ng Choon Ping.

Ping won the Royal Exchange's inaugural Hodgkiss Award, a prize that actively supports talent by giving a promising director the chance to stage a new play of their choosing, complete with full production support.

Hill can easily see why Mattinson's boundarynudging Crocodiles was Ping's chosen piece. "Lee's imagination is amazing," she says.

"The writing is so fantastic that every day we come into work and we find new things in it. …

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