Christina Nicole, in partnership with English Touring Theatre, is one of the team behind new podcast series Behind the Curtains, spotlighting Black creatives in the theatre industry. The series, hosted by Siana Bangura and Christina Nicole and co-produced by ETT, Bangura, and Nicole, will feature conversations with Black theatre-makers and creatives about their career experiences and navigating the current creative landscape.
The first episode was released on 22 October 2020, and features a discussion with Zodwa Nyoni and Corey Bovell focusing on Black British theatre history, as well as being a writer and adapting to working in the context of a pandemic. Other episodes include conversations with Munotida Chinyanga, Hazel Holder, Alison Holder, Natalie Ibu, Madeleine Kludje, Toni Kyeremateng, Alysha Laviniere, Ingrid Mackinnon, and Shelley Maxwell.
You’ve launched a brand-new podcast, Behind The Curtains, what can you tell us about it?
Behind the curtains is a podcast that shines a spotlight on black creatives who work backstage. Each episode is filled with talent as we talk to directors, stage managers, dialect coaches and many more. Our guests share their career journeys, their highs and lows and everything in between that they have experienced within theatre. It’s an all-round feel-good podcast!
What inspired you to create a podcast about the roles in theatre that audiences don’t usually see?
Working in theatre allowed me to experience a variety of roles and gain in depth knowledge into how a production is made. I could see first-hand the talent, determination and skills that went into creating a show and I always felt that those that worked behind the stage were the unsung heroes of a performance and deserved a chance to shine.
Growing up I had always been interested in performing arts but never thought of the Theatre as a place for me as a young black woman. When I started working in theatre, with companies like ETT I was suddenly exposed to the wide range of roles behind the curtains that make theatre what it is. It made me reflect more about what different paths I might have pursued in life if I was more aware of all of the options available to me, and saw myself represented in those roles. My hope is that Behind The Curtains can do that for other people by giving them the opportunity to learn more about the different roles that often go unnoticed, and hear the inspiring and interesting stories about how these amazing black creatives managed to get in this often-underrepresented space. There are so many fantastic opportunities in theatre that people don’t know exist. Behind the Curtains allows people to discover those opportunities.
How did the partnership with English Touring Theatre come about?
Siana and I both worked together at ETT and always wanted to do a project together. Behind the Curtains stemmed from an idea Siana had. With Covid and Black Lives Matter impacting us all, we both felt like now was the right time to approach ETT to create the podcast. When we approached Richard Twyman (ETT’s Artistic Director) he was really excited about the idea, as he is passionate about theatre being more inclusive, and immediately agreed to ETT partnering with us on this podcast.
Has your career in theatre helped you create a podcast, or has it been a whole new learning curve?
I would say it has definitely been a huge learning curve. Although I know and understand many roles in theatre, I never fully understood how one would be able to get into that role. This is also the first time I have made a podcast so the technical side of creating one has been a brand-new experience. I think being able to create something during a lockdown with amazing creatives has been a blessing and an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed!
How did you choose your guests and what made them want to join you for an episode?
Siana and I chose 3 episodes each to produce. In each of those episodes we had to choose the type of theatre roles we wanted to explore and also identify who we wanted to talk to. As someone who loves to write, I was very keen on doing an episode on writers. Writers create the play; they tell the stories and give the voiceless a voice. The writers we had on the podcast are friends of mine and I admire their talent and wanted to give them a platform to shine. Finding creatives to be on each episode was an eye opener. It exposed the lack of diversity backstage and forced both Siana and I to really dig deep to find black creatives.
What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a regular listener of Behind The Curtains?
Give it a listen! You will love it! It’s a heart-warming podcasting that gives creatives recognition for their hard works. It’s inspirational, funny, vibrant, full of culture and 100 percent real. If you want to get into theatre or fancy a career change then I am certain it will inspire you like it has inspired me!