Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
"I was afraid of what people would think if I was honest about myself, but more than that, I wanted to tell my story and make people think and laugh with it. "
SUPERSTAR | Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly)
1st – Sunday 25th August 2019 (not 12th), 17:30 | TICKETS
Superstar is Nicola’s extremely funny, autobiographical rite of passage story about family, identity and authenticity while concealing that you’re Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s little sister.
Hi Nicola thank you for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
My pleasure! It’s going very well thanks, getting into that exciting stage of putting all of the technical and design elements into the show now and gearing up for solid rehearsal time in July.
How does it feel to be bringing Superstar to Edinburgh Fringe?
It feels like an exciting, nerve-wracking and very fun privilege.
Are there any nerves ahead of your Fringe run?
Of course! There’s always a healthy dose of butt-clenching in the run-up to the fringe, but I’m just focusing on making the best show I can possibly make with the brilliant team I’ve put together, so whatever the outcome at least I’ll be able to say that I put everything I’ve got into it.
Can you tell me a little bit about Superstar, what can we expect?
Superstar is an honest and funny autobiographical comedy that tells the story of my desperate attempt to forge my own identity and make a mark on the world while growing up in the shadow of my four older siblings. It’s a really fun show and one that I’ve wanted to make for a very long time.
What was the inspiration behind Superstar?
After making two shows for the fringe in which I played characters who were definitely not me, I was absolutely desperate to get up on the stage and be myself and tell my own story. I kept trying to shoehorn my story into those plays and disguise it because I was too scared of what people would think if I was just myself. But after giving some serious thought as to whether I was going to carry on writing and performing, I decided that I’d just make one last solo show where I actually do what I’ve always wanted to do, throw everything I’ve learned and all the funny experiences I’ve had at it and stop being such a pussy.
After spending so much time ‘self-censoring’ when did you realise you wanted to stop hiding?
I think the self-censoring and hiding who my brother is was necessary for a long time because I needed to prove that I was hard working and good enough in my own right, probably to myself more than anyone else. After my last play returned to London, after a run in New York, I felt that I had achieved that, and that if I wanted to continue to make honest and funny work, then I would need to tell my own story and let people see what I’m really about.
Did you have any fears that people would act/treat you differently if they knew who your older brother was?
Yes, I’ve had that fear, and in many ways been governed by it, for about twenty years since Chris became famous. And some people do treat me differently when they find out, or make assumptions before they meet me, but I like who I am enough now to not let it bother me so much. I’ve accepted that it’s probably going to be my experience for my whole life and so I’ve decided to own it rather than be scared of it. Using everything I’ve learned as a writer and performer to date, and creating something that other people can enjoy, felt like the best way for me to do that.
"I’ve accepted that it’s probably going to be my experience for my whole life and so I’ve decided to own it rather than be scared of it."
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this show to life?
I’ve found writing autobiographically a really challenging experience in terms of figuring out what is actually interesting and funny to an audience that doesn’t know anything about me. And of course you can’t put a whole life story into an hour, so the writing of the thing has been long and at times gruelling, I’ve had to be very honest with myself. Then, of course, there’s the massive task of actually getting a show ready to go to the fringe, finding a producer, a director, designers etc, writing blurbs, designing posters and digging deep for the self-belief to say to people, ‘I think this is going to be good, please help me with it.’ It’s taken a good few months of hard work but I have such a brilliant team now and I’m so grateful to be working with them and sharing some of the load.
Now that you have created Superstar, being somewhat reflective, do you have any regrets for changing your name?
Absolutely not. It was really important to me at the time to take on a stage name so that I could forge my own identity as an actor and writer. When I think about it now, I can see how some people may think it was a pointless thing to do, but I needed to do it for my own self-belief when I was just starting out. Besides, it’s given me a very funny story for a show. And there’s another Nicola Martin who is registered to Spotlight, so there’s no going back.
Describe Superstar in 3 words?
Fun, honest, relatable.
Have you always had a passion for performing?
Yes, since I was very young. I think being the youngest of five kids gave me a certain ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ quality and, thanks to the village pantomime, I was able to channel that early on, in a way that wasn’t incredibly annoying for everyone (although probably still annoying for some). Superstar is an exploration of why I got into performing in the first place, and, in many ways, I’ve made it in order to help me keep my love of performing alive.
"That being your authentic self is better than being a superstar."
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
“If you want to be a famous actress, you don’t need to go to drama school, you just need to f*ck some rockstars,” One of my brothers (not Chris) told me that.
But no, obviously not that. I’ve been given all sorts of great advice, but the main rule I try to live by is ‘decide that you want something more than you are afraid of it’. This is the sentiment with which I’ve written Superstar. I was afraid of what people would think if I was honest about myself, but more than that, I wanted to tell my story and make people think and laugh with it.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?
I don’t really feel in a position to dish out the advice, because there’s so much I’m still learning myself, but one thing I think is really important is to make what YOU love, and not just what you think other people want. And to just keep putting stuff out there.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
That being your authentic self is better than being a superstar. Although, that’s a bit cheesy. Really just something to talk and laugh about (in a good way).