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'Office' Inspired Play Wins Award
Friday 30th April, 2010

'Office' Inspired Play Wins Award
Natalie Grady, Martin Henshell and Martin Green.

RICKY Gervais’ “The Office” was the inspiration behind the winning entry for this year’s Wicked Wigan playwriting competition.

“Coal Providers Soul Survivors” by Martin Henshell modelled itself on the classic comedy and involved the humorous rebranding of Wigan’s name as high flying executives descended on a failing marketing team.

He will now be commissioned to develop it into a full length play for performance in next year’s Arts and Festivals calendar.

The competition, organised by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, involved four brand new plays performed as part of Wigan Pier Community Theatre’s new “Wicked Wigan” production in The Winch Room at The Orwell earlier this month.

Local amateurs performed the short pieces that each took a comedic look at the people and places that can make up a strong community and themes associated with Wigan.

All the plays were directed by the theatre company’s Development Officer, Martin Green, and Natalie Grady, a professional actress from Wigan who has had major success in the West End and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Martin Green said: “The central character of Dave in the winning piece could be compared to Ricky Gervais' character in ‘The Office’. In the play, Wigan was rebranded ‘Wicked Wigan’ much to the amusement of the audience especially with the idea of all the road signs having to be changed just to achieve Dave's selfish aims of being promoted. In the end, it all backfires and he gets a job in Cool Clitheroe but ends up living in a grotty campsite while his former colleagues become Most Successful Office of the Year!”

“This was an exciting new initiative for the theatre company and with the North West Playwright’s support it has been a fantastic success.”

Each of the four plays was penned by an emerging new writer. The audience at the show on Friday 23 April enjoyed the various different styles and storylines and the wealth of talent on display by the budding thespians.

“Hobby Horse” written by David Adair portrayed a group of friends in a pub and the tensions between them as they each talked about their favourite pastimes – from being in a tribute act for The Verve to playing football and rugby!

“What Happened To Harmony Melody?” by Gerard McLaughlin had them laughing in the aisles as it took an ironic look at the reality talent shows that are so popular in today’s culture

The last of the quartet was Hanneke Blower’s “The Float of Ms Lou Brady” which examined the relationships and pressures of a local dance school who are preparing for an annual parade.

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