Nichola Mcauliffe

Q & A with Nichola McAuliffe when she starred Off-Broadway in her own play, A British Subject which played at 59E59's Theater B from 9 Dec 2009 - 3 Jan 2010.

Date of birth
I count my age from the day I met my husband and we don't like being grown ups, so I'm ten and 26 halfs.

Place of birth
London England.

Currently living in
London England.

Did you go to training school, if so which one?
The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. LAMDA.

As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, tv or film?
To be honest no. But I would LOVE to do more film as I have done that the least. Sadly I had an agent who said I was 'just not beautiful enough for film.' I have a new agent and a new face.

Your first stage performance.
As the Angel Gabriel in gold frock wings and halo, at the age of 5, but I had a brain operation and, as they thought I was going to die, I was recast. I returned to school to find I'd been demoted to An Angel in white frock, wigs and halo. I was furious, and swore it was the last chorus job I'd ever do.

Career highlight to date.
Getting to perform along side Sherie Rene Scott in "Everyday Rapture" at 2nd Stage Theater. It was so inspiring and thrilling to work with her, and the entire team on that production.

Briefly tell us how you became involved in A British Subject?
My husband was sent by his newspaper to visit a man on death row in Pakistan. We became involved in the efforts to get him home to England before he was hanged. We wrote to Prince Charles and prayed for a miracle.

When did you decide to write a play about your experience of advocating on behalf of Mirza Tahir Hussain?
When interest was expressed by Alison Hindell head of BBC Radio 4 Drama. I wrote an outline of the present play for the Afternoon Play slot on radio. Then The Pleasance Theatre director, Anthony Alderson expressed an interest in a stage play for Edinburgh Festival.

What do you think the play has to say to an American audience?
I hope it'll say the same as it said to the Edinburgh audiences but perhaps there will be deeper resonances as the play concerns faith, both Christian and Moslem, and the USA appears to have, to outsiders, a more active religious life than Britian. This may mean the emphasis on prayer in the play may be less dismissed than it was in Britain. Also the death penalty is still on the statute books in the USA which it is not in Britain. I am not sure whether that will affect the way people view the dilemma we faced in a different way. What I do know is American theatre audiences are extremely astute - certainly the ones who come to London are - and whatever their reaction it'll be intelligent and well considered.

Career highlight to date?
This has to be it. I've never worked in New York before and I have always viewed my colleagues who have with some envy. It's long been an ambition to do a play there and to do one I wrote, about my husband and Tahir....well, it doesn't get much better than that!

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
Falling asleep standing up as Queen Victoria in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Poppy. It had been a slightly heavy night before and I was in no fit state to do the matinee. I woke to find the entire company facing me, arms aloft, giggling, the conductor crying with laughter and the audience unsure as to why Her Majesty was snoring when she should have been singing 'Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears The Crown.'

What roles would you most like to play?
Actors are often asked this and I have no serious answer. I've never thought Ooh I have to give the world my Juliet or Lady M. But I would like to play Rosa Klebb's granddaughter in a Bond Movie.

Who are your Favourite actors?
Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, Brian Dennehy, Joe Pesci, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, Judi Dench, Ken Stott, Clare Higgins, Daniel Craig......

What is the most annoying part about your job?
People poking their fingers in your face while you're buying knickers and saying 'Ooh Mavis, it is her.'

If you hadn’t become a performer, what might you have done instead?
A Forensic scientist. Waaaayyy before CSI - which I LOVE by the way.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
Mozart and Van Gogh. 'Listen lads, I know this isn't much help now but believe me, after you're dead you're going to be HUGE.'

Favourite after-show haunts
Joe Allen's, The Club at the Ivy, or a great little Italian restaurant near the Old Vic called La Barca.

What was the last book you read, and name some of your favourite authors
Despite writing fiction I am an avid non fiction reader. I am currently reading a new biography of Mary Tudor and re reading a biog of Sir Bernard Spilsbury the father of modern forensics (my hero). I love reading anything by William Dalrymple - his early travel books are absolutely hilarious.

What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favourite movies
I last went to The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. Shamefully I tend to catch up with movies on DVD. I've got a pair of BOSE headphones for movies on planes and will watch as many as I can on a flight. Favourites movies: The Third man, Laurence of Arabia, Men in Black 1 and 2, The Godfather films, Goodfellas, Casino, Das Boot, Volver, The Seven Samurai, Ipcress File, The Princess Bride

Favourite TV programs
Law and Order SVU, CSI Las Vegas, Law and Order, NCIS, Murder One (first series) Simpsons, South park.

Favourite holiday destinations
The Island of La Gomera in the Canaries. The Maldives. Sarawak in Borneo. Hong Kong for the Rugby Sevens.

Do you have any hobbies?

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
My husband. A bottle of champagne (he can't stand the stuff) solar powered lap top to write on - not send emails.

What are your future plans?
I haven't any. I don't want to make God laugh.

Do you have any superstitions?
Not really, though I observe the niceties around magpies and ladders.