Monthly Archives: July 2017

An Interview with Allie Butler

selfportrait_alliebutlerjass edition9.jpgHello Allie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from Fife originally, spent a decade in London, and now live in Glasgow.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
When I was about six. My cousins and I used to put on wee plays for our parents, and if they didn’t listen enough or clap enough, I’d be devastated. My fate was clearly sealed.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Anything that asks more questions than it tries to answer, and doesn’t try to do the job of the audience and all our thinking for us. I love work that is visually arresting and isn’t afraid to push boundaries and be difficult or challenging.

What does Allie Butler like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
I spend a lot of time dancing – I got into Swing dance with my husband nearly two years ago, and absolutely fell in love. I’ve always adored music from that era, and am now totally obsessed with the dances that go with it – Lindy Hop, Charleston, Blues, Collegiate Shag (yes that’s its real name).

You are quite a stalwart of the Scottish Theatre scene, which seems flourishing at the moment, why do you think this is?
Having lived and worked in London for years, I really noticed when I moved up here that there was a different artistic landscape and culture. I instantly felt more part of the dialogue than I had in London, and found that people were really welcoming and open. For a small country, there is such a huge amount going on and getting produced, it really is exceptional. Having said that, I do feel we still have a long way to go in terms of how the industry operates, and we need to work for more accountability and meritocracy across the board.

You are the artistic director of Tidy Carnage, can you tell us about the company?
I started Tidy Carnage because I was finding that venues kept asking for a company name and it seemed like it would be helpful to have a ‘brand’ to work under. That’s a really unromantic reason to start a theatre company, but it’s true. However, as I moved more towards making my own work, I really grew into the idea of having a company and what that meant for me as an artist. It give me a sense of freedom but also a really useful feeling of responsibility, for myself and for a collective of artists and for the work. We make contemporary theatre, usually working with a writer in the room but largely devised with a team of performers and other artists including musicians, film makers, set, lighting and video designers, and soon an illusionist. I’ve found that without really intending it, the work has started leaning towards immersive, site responsive pieces and that’s definitely what you’ll see more of from Tidy Carnage in future.

Shame Poster A3-001

You will be bringing ‘Shame’ to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about the play?
Shame is a play written and performed by Belle Jones (Tidy Carnage associate) which explores the vilification of female sexuality online. It’s inspired by stories of slut shaming and revenge porn (although we both kind of hate those terms), and is a call to action against the horrific bullying and trolling that happens to (mostly) women on the internet. It’s a solo show on stage, but there is a 16 strong digital cast that also appear during the show’s projected media. We’ve also got original music composed for us by NovaSound that will feature in the show.

Can you give us dramaturgical details about the multi-media aspect of the performance?
Working with extensive video content has been really interesting and allowed us to tell a story from multiple angles, despite it being a solo show. It has also pressed us to think about the narrative in various timelines and to give the effect of ‘pausing’ the live action while we delve into the digital. We’ve had lots of really interesting conversations about our online personas and how we present something that is truly representative of the presence of a young person online – a ‘digital native’. The other unique thing we’ve discovered is that #Unshamed was initially a fictional concept that Belle created as part of the show, but it’s now spread its wings and become a real life project. That’s the brilliant thing about working with multi-media, you can move quite fluidly between the live and the digital which is really exciting. Find out more at and @Unshamed.

What emotive responses do you expect from your audience?
Shame is certainly a show that explores a very serious subject matter, and as such it can be a sad and disturbing production to watch. However, there is also an uplifting message and we absolutely don’t want audiences to leave feeling bleak about our digital world and the state of humanity.

You have your fingers in many theatrical pies : what does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Allie Butler?
I am currently developing Tidy Carnage’s next production – Underworlds – an immersive event that asks audiences to let us in to their deepest secrets and explores the dark side of most hidden selves. I’m also working on a new production called CULT with acclaimed illusionist Scott Silven, and developing the Tron’s Progressive Playwright Award winner.

You can catch Shame at this year’s Fringe

Aug 3-28 : Assembly George Square Studios (16.15)

An Interview with Kamaal Hussain

15941073_10211911193840481_7737007561252487231_n (1).jpgHello Kamaal, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Baghdad, Iraq, moved to the East Midlands when I was 2 years old, grew up in Leicestershire and now live in London, via Sheffield and Munich!

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
At school. I had a pretty inspirational English teacher at secondary school, and she encouraged me into school plays, and then into youth theatre.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Something that stays with me after the show. Something which makes me think and challenges my perceptions. Total theatre – the whole package, working in collaboration.

What does Kamaal Hussain like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
I’m an avid reader, I have a little ‘library’ at home. It’s really only a spare bedroom that I’ve taken up one wall of and it’s covered in books. I have a little armchair, and I curl up there and lose myself in a book.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh before whether visiting or performing?
I last performed in Edinburgh at the Playhouse as Habibi, in The New Statesman with Rik Mayall in 2007. My last time at the Fringe performing was at Greyfriars Kirkhouse in The Duchess of Malfi in about 1995! I try to come up every year as a visitor. I love to pack as much in as I can then.

Becoming Scheherazade Edinburgh Draft Poster (5)-001

You will be bringing ‘Becoming Scheherazade’ to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?
Becoming Scheherazade was born out of need to tell the stories of Arabs in the West. In the light of the Gulf wars, the rise of Daesh and the seeming demonisation of the Middle East in the press, I had wanted to respond this theatrically. This production uses the Arabian Nights as its foundation, recognisable stories to a Western ear, but maybe over-adapted or bastardised in a Western context (think Aladdin). I decided to tell my life story, interwoven with the stories of Sinbad the Sailor, to examine my (and my family’s) particular relationship to migration from the Middle Eats to the West. And Becoming Sheherazade was born!

What is it about The Arabian Nights which resonates so much with you?
They are unusual. They contain stories within stories. Also, the framing device of Scheherazade’s tales, her need to keep the King entertained, so that he would not kill her – the parallels between that and the need to represent Arabs here in a realistic light were too plain to miss.


What compelled you to create such a piece?
As I said earlier, I wanted to redress the balance of the representations of Arabs in the West. This is the first iteration of a broader project, which aims to collect 1,001 real stories of Arabs in the west, creating a contemporary parallels to the 1,001 Arabian Nights.

What emotive responses do you expect from your audience?
I never know what the reactions will be. And that’s what I love about it. I’m telling a very personal story in Becoming Scheherazade, it will be interesting to see what emotive response that elicits. I am hopeful though, that people will find it thought-provoking, and lead them to examine any assumptions they may have held about the Arab diaspora.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Kamaal Hussain?
I’m aiming to tour Becoming Scheherazade later this year. Also, I am beginning to receive other stories, so there will be some time spent collating those, and producing a blog to offer those stories to the world, and work on adapting those stories for theatrical production, and weaving them with their own Arabian Nights tales.

You can catch Kamaal’s one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe

Aug 2-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 : Summerhall (15.00)

An Interview with Georgia Taylforth


Hello Georgia, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hello! I’m originally from North London but have now found myself south of the River in South West. It doesn’t sound like that big a move but it’s completely different! I’ve been here for quite a few years now though, so I’m slowly starting to get used to it!

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
I honestly can’t remember. I come from a family quite involved in the arts so I guess I always have been. Two of my aunts are actresses and my mum is the most incredible drama teacher in the world. She set up her own drama club and over about 7 years, she flat out refused to increase fees, just because she didn’t want any of the kids to miss out. She’s amazing.

When did you first realise you could write for the stage?
Whilst training for GSA, I used to write small scenes in order to get out of having to give presentations. For our Comedia del Arte project, I wrote our group a pantomime instead! I then wrote a few small scenes for fundraisers for other companies, but it wasn’t until we’d graduated that I actually attempted writing a full length play. I’ll always have Ali (one of JunkBox) to thank for writing Mine. She told me I had to write her a play because she wasn’t getting seen for the parts she wanted, so I did. Touch wood, I haven’t looked back since.

MINE Flyer 109x152mmWhich playwrights have inspired you?
I’m inspired by so many different playwrights, it’s hard to just name a few. Jack Thorne’s “Bunny”, was one of my first monologue choices for Drama School and since then I’ve loved everything he’s done. Karla Crome is someone I look up to pretty much everyday as a Playwright and actor. Shaun Kitchener, again is someone who I think is brilliant. And without sounding like a broken record, my mum. She’s stopped writing now, but when I was younger she would have papers all over the table and floor trying to piece together scenes, and I would watch and marvel in how she did it.

What does Georgia Taylforth like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
I currently work in a gym so attending classes there is pretty high up the list. I’ve got a Shih Tzu called Dolly, who I’m very much in love with so spending time with her (and my boyfriend) is a bonus. JunkBox does take up a lot of my time though, because when we’re not thinking about Edinburgh, we’re organizing our scratch nights, “Scratch and See”. I’m lucky to have the company with my two best friends, so it hardly ever feels like work.

Stiff Dicky Flyer 109x152mmYou will be bringing two plays to Edinburgh this August, Mime & Stiff Dicky. You wrote & are performing in both. How much of you is in the plays & in the parts you perform?
I’m very lucky with the company that the actors have helped me workshop both plays and create pieces that we feel very proud of. Because of that, I think there’s a bit of me in both plays, but there’s a bit of everyone in both. If a scene or section of dialogue didn’t necessarily work, we’d go back and work together to make it fit. With Emma (Mine) and Alice (Stiff Dicky), I think they’re exaggerated versions of me and my friends at different points of our lives. Both plays aren’t necessarily everyday life, but I think he reason that they have worked with audiences is because, the characters are. I hope that as soon as each character starts talking, you can relate to them in one way or another. I love playing both characters, but Alice has a very special place in my heart.

Mine G&S.jpg


Can you sum up your two shows with a single sentence each?
Mine – Modern day pregnancy under the microscope, with Nutella.
Stiff Dicky – 45 minutes of dirty jokes about a dead man with an erection.

What emotive responses do you expect from your audience?
I never expect anything and that’s what I love about it. Mine splits audiences, some are angry, some cry, some laugh and some just come and hug me which is nice. Stiff Dicky is so much fun. We had an audience of pretty much just old people, and when a certain incedent happened with the erection and someones mouth, one of the old girls said rather loudly, “I’ve done that”, which was one of my favourite moments so far.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Georgia Taylforth?
So much of 2016 has been focused on taking these plays to Edinburgh, it’ll be so strange to focus on a new JunkBox project. That being said, there’s two plays in the pipeline and I’m off to Australia towards the end of the year, so we’ll see what happens there!

You can witness both of Georgina’s creations this August at the Fringe

MINE : Aug 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 : Space Triplex (21.15)

STIFF DICKY : Aug 4, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19 : Space Triplex (21.15)


Wind In The Willows


Script: three-stars   Stagecraft: three-stars Performance: four-stars  

Thirlestane Castle – with its rolling, green, and sheep-flecked grounds – makes for quite the Arcadian backdrop against which a touring troupe of players might perform. While Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s “The Wind in the Willows” does have a very serviceable and aesthetically-pleasing set of its own, there is no doubt that the production is imbued with no small amount of romance by its wider setting, lit only by the evening sun, and punctuated by picnics, pleasantries, and children rolling about in the grass.

Exterior_1010_475_c1.jpgWith food digesting, and thermoses at the ready, we turned to the stage as the first performer strode forward and announced that we were all going to have a lovely time, and that if it rained, we would get wet, but at least we were all in it together. This prologue delivered, the actor was joined by the rest of the cast and their instruments, and the show opened with a song. Thus began a pleasant two or so hours, during which the multi-talented – and mostly multi-roled – performers entertained us with the well-loved tale of Mr Toad, his companions, and his conscience.


The difficulty with children’s shows is generally in the pitching, for they need to please both the kids and their parents, and thus too often fall between two stools. In the case of “Willows”, while there are moments when the jokes land a little over the heads of the kids, and the length of the play is perhaps fifteen minutes too long for the attention spans of the youngest in the audience, Chapterhouse largely succeeds in avoiding this pitfall, with the children clearly engrossed in the story, and happily discussing the characters on first-name terms come the interval. The grown-ups, too, were engaged, and although the script and the staging tended to err on the safe side in terms of experimentation, this is perhaps not unwise in a production already so vulnerable to the elements.


Particularly impressive were the clarity of delivery in the al fresco setting, and the upbeat nature of the performance, without the cast resorting to shouting or over-loud sound effects, which I have seen frighten young children time and again at the theatre. Even the “baddies” (Weasel and Stoat), were amiable in their way, and both could be found after the performance with swarms of children around – and, in one case, climbing *on* – them.

This is a talented cast within a solidly professional company, delivering a dependable and quality production. If it is the gorgeous setting that elevates it still further in the audience’s experience, that doesn’t detract one bit from the delight those present took in the evening as a whole. We had a lovely time, it didn’t rain, and – as promised – we were all in it together.

Reviewer : Laura Ingham


An Interview with Rachel Briscoe

Rachel Briscoe - Lists.jpgHello Rachel, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from St Albans, which is a fairly dull commuter town just north of London, and I live in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is brilliant.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Quite late really… I thought it would be a good way to meet people at uni, so I produced a freshers’ play. It was terrible (the play, not the organisation – it was organised very well, if I do say so myself). I thought, how hard can this directing thing be? So I decided to have a go. I think the first stuff I directed was probably quite bad, but luckily not too many people saw it!

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Something where I don’t notice time passing, where I’m totally engrossed and the lights go up and I can’t believe it was two hours long. Something where I laugh out loud, have a moment of profound sadness – and then think about it for days afterwards. I don’t ask for much.

What does Rachel Briscoe like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
Cook! I love food and sharing it with other people. At the moment I’m refining my recipe for the perfect burrito. I can talk about food for hours. Once I’ve finished one meal, I’m already planning the next one. I also like running but I think that’s just so I have an excuse for eating more food.


Can you tell us about fanSHEN Theatre?
We make theatre, live events and interactive experiences. We’re really interested in taking massive, important ideas and synthesising them into playful, dynamic formats. We’re also fascinated by the different ways in which we can co-create with the people who experience our work – whether that’s them playing within a structure we’ve made, creating content or committing radical acts of imagination with us!

Lists_Draft.00_00_53_01.Still004.jpgWhat was the initial inspiration behind forming fanSHEN?
Honestly? Dan Barnard –who I run fanSHEN with- and I graduated and realised we had a choice: we could either sit there and wait for someone to give us a job, or we could get on with making something happen ourselves. I’m really pleased we made that decision. Over the last ten years, having the company has allowed us to build a family of amazing associate artists, make some great projects and meet fantastic audiences.

Have you been to Edinburgh before, either visiting or performing?
I brought shows as a student but not since then. I visit most years – it’s a great chance to see shows by companies you’d never normally encounter.

You will be bringing Lists For The End Of The World to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about the play?
Lists… is a show composed entirely of crowd-sourced lists, from all kinds of people in all kinds of places – including from the audience as they queue up to take their seats. In Lists…, the ordinary and the extraordinary, the profound and the ridiculous sit playfully side by side: Things I pretend to be interested in; Times my 8 year old self would be proud of me; Places I would hide a body. It includes laughs, music, sadness, romance, some dancing, a look at the world through other people’s eyes, fish sticks. Each performance is different then, what are the ingredients for the best shows?
That’s right, we source content online and from each audience. Some stuff will stay the same and some will be different. I guess I’m always trying to make sure that there’s a real range of perspectives in there – there are moments in the show where I want people to hear something and think “Oh yeah, me too!” but also moments where I want them to be like, “Wow, I never thought of it like that.”

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Rachel Briscoe?
We’re opening a new interactive show called Disaster Party, which is like a murder mystery crossed with one of those melodramatic Latin American telenovellas. We’re also piloting a new playable theatre jury game. And I’m starting to make new piece about AI. And R&Ding a new show about a woman who jumped off the top of Empire State Building and got blown back in again on the floor below (true story!). And I might try to have a couple of days off – I hear December 25th is a popular choice.

Lists For The End Of The World will be playing throughout the Fringe

@ The Summerhall

2-27 August (Not 14, not 21) 13:45 

An Interview with Joyce Nga Yu Lee


Hello Joyce, so where ya from & where ya at, Geographically speaking?
I’m originally from Hong Kong but I have been living in Leeds for 8 years. People tell me I now speak with a Hong Kong/Yorkshire accent. I am pretty proud of that.

When did you first realise you could write for the stage?
When I realised that writing for the stage is not about pen and paper (or screen and keyboard). I write with choreography, rhythm and pacing, light and sound including words and voices. I try to treat the script to my theatre like notation to music.

Which playwrights have inspired your own writing?
Antonin Artaud, Jerome Bel, Isabel Allende, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes. They are not playwrights but they inspired me. They gave me imageries, intensions and provocations.

What is the difference between Chinese Theatre & that of the West?
Haha can someone please first sum up what ‘Theatre of the West’ is? As you can imagine it is both impossible and wrong to try and summarise. From my observation, There are a lot of theatre venues where I came from in Hong Kong that look like the venues I see in Europe. Performance happened within them and tended to be similar to each other, no matter where they come from. It is when you venture outside the boundaries of theatre venues then you will discover the joy of diversity. Go to a tiny factory or flat, converted into a studio theatre and see what independent theatre makers are passionate about and how they make theatre with minimum resource; go to a teahouse or community centre to see Xiqu (generally known as Chinese opera), which has got a totally different aesthetic on stage and etiquette off stage; or even a pedestrian only street to see what tricks street performers are up to. Theatre is everywhere.

What does Joyce Nga Yu Lee like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
I like gaming on my phone or computer. I enjoy a good story without stressing about my HP all the time, so I am more into RPG, adventures and puzzle games. I particularly like classic Chinese martial arts RPGs which I play on DOS simulator. I also like reading: sci-fi, history, science, economics, politics, manga… just not romance.

Can you tell us about your company, Mind the Gap?
Mind the Gap has been creating work since 1988 and I’m pleased to say that we’re one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies. We’re all about creating an arts sector where there is equal opportunity for performers with learning disabilities, creating work for local, national and international audiences. The type of work we produce includes touring theatre, site sensitive productions, forum theatre and more recently street theatre. We make work alongside people with learning disabilities that excites, surprises and challenges audiences.


You are also the artistic director of the multi-art form Daughters of Fortune. Can you tell us more about this project.?
Daughters of Fortune looks at humanity through the eyes of parents with learning disabilities. It involves three live performance outputs, the three daughters: Anna, a interactive forum theatre piece; Mia, a contemporary studio theatre piece and Zara, a large scale outdoor spectacle. Anna and Mia are perfectly formed “sisters” and now on the road. The little sister Zara, who is due early 2019, however involves the biggest ambition. Zara will feature a three storey tall puppet baby, with epic choric movement of people and vehicles. Just imagine a cross between Godzilla, District 9 and the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

gapThrough Daughters of Fortune you are bringing Mia to the Fringe, can you tell us about the play?
Mia is a fast moving contemporary performance that appeals to audiences who like the new and authentic. In partnership with Royal Holloway and with the support of the Wellcome Trust, the team collected real stories from parents with a learning disability. Everything in Mia is grounded in real life stories. The subject matter is impossibly complex, the performance is composed to reflect this complexity. The performance is structured with a series of non-linear episodes strung together with a progressive narrative arc. The episodes vary in form and pace, from high energy pop dance to intimate acting, low tech object manipulation to live feed camera and loop pedal. Mia is highly demanding for the performers, and catered for audiences with a critical and inquisitive mind.

What emotive response do you expect from the audience?
Some feedback I heard frequently was that it was like an “emotional roller coaster”, and “laugh one minute and cry the next”. Mia is full of jump cuts between light and shade, sometimes the absurdity of reality even renders us not knowing whether to laugh or cry. When you leave the theatre, I hope you feel entertained, but also feeling a bit more human and energised for action.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Joyce Nga Yu Lee?
When you see me in Edinburgh this year you will see me sporting a baby bump 🙂 Isn’t it interesting? While I am heading a project about having babies, I am making one in my belly. This is an incredible experience. If you have read our marketing material, you’ll see the doubts and questions one may ask when considering having kids: can I cope? Will I be able to afford it? Will I screw it up? These are real questions I am asking myself. I still can’t answer yes to all these questions, but I’m trying my best and ain’t letting fear stop me.

You can catch MIA : DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE at the Fringe

Aug 8-27 : Summerhall (14.45)


An Interview with Hippolyte Poirier

Hippolyte.pngHello Hippolyte, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born and raised in a little village called Gidy near Orléans in France and moved to Hull at the age of 10 – quite a culture shock! After 8 wonderful years in the North East, I moved down to Surrey to study at GSA and have lived in London for two years since graduating. Despite having lived in the UK more than half of my life, I am still very much a proud Frenchman at heart.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I think that there are many factors that contribute to making a quality piece of theatre but ultimately it boils down to the story and the characters. At least one of those things has to have some quality (preferably both!) otherwise there is no hope of getting your audience engaged. It might sound a bit obvious and simple but then again, I’m easily pleased! As an audience member all I’m asking for is to be taken on a journey with the plot and to connect with the characters on an emotional level. It’s also always a bonus when a piece not only provokes emotional reaction but intellectual reflection as well.

As an actor, what are the secrets to a good performance?
One of the most important things for me is to be relaxed on stage so that I allow everything to come naturally. As soon as the nerves kick in and you start thinking about yourself as an actor or what the audience might be thinking, it becomes near impossible to get any truth out of your character as you’re not fully concentrating on them. It’s also crucial to listen to and focus on your fellow actors as they are the people that you are (re)acting to. Acting is a massive team effort and listening is the key.

What does Hippolyte like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
Plenty of things! I love sports, football in particular so I spend most of my time watching or playing it (on FIFA). I’m a Gunner through and through and football is probably the closest thing I have to a religion. I also play various instruments and love a singalong.

Mine A&H.jpg
You are a member of Junkbox Theatre, can you tell us about the company?
JunkBox was created just under a year ago but they have already achieved an incredible amount. They sold out their first show and have only gone upwards since them. Georgia, Ali and Jack having trained as actors had to learn how to direct and produce on the job and I really admire the fantastic job they’ve done. I’ve been lucky enough to act in all of JunkBox’s shows so far and have enjoyed every single one. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next and as their friend, I am very proud of their deserved success.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh before whether visiting or performing?
I performed two shows at the Fringe in the summer of 2014 and had an amazing experience. I loved the hub of creativity and enthusiasm that is the Mile, saw so much great theatre and met some brilliant people. As there was a lot of flyering involved last time, I am looking forward to exploring the city in between seeing as many shows as possible.

MINE Flyer 109x152mmYou will be performing in two plays in Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about them?
“Mine” follows the stories of three young couples and their experiences with planned/unplanned pregnancies. It’s got a great balance of humour, touching moments as well as a couple of scenes to tug at the heart scenes. It touches on subjects that are rarely showcased in theatre and does so in a very honest and accurate way.Stiff Dicky Flyer 109x152mm

“Stiff Dicky” is a very different show and as the title would suggest, is not quite as serious. Two best friends go on a birthday night out with the rest of their group, pick up a friendly Frenchman and wake up the following morning to find a corpse sporting a rather impressive erection in their bed. Hilarity ensues as the group try to work out what to do next. Both shows are a joy to perform in as the characters are contrasting and well written.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Hippolyte Poirier?
When I get back from the Fringe, the first task will be to move in to a new flat as no matter how important acting may seem, housing has to come top of the list. Otherwise, I don’t really have many plans for the rest of the year but I’m looking forward to whatever comes my way.

You can see Hippolyte the August at the Fringe in two different plays

MINE : Aug 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 : Space Triplex (21.15)

STIFF DICKY : Aug 4, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19 : Space Triplex (21.15)

An Interview with Glenn Chandler

GLENNCHANDLER HIGH RES.jpgHello Glenn, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I was born virtually on the slopes of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, so doing the Fringe is very much coming home, with a brisk climb to the top every morning to keep myself sane for the day ahead.  I now live in Hertfordshire.  Contrary to popular belief, I never lived in Glasgow, and when writing Taggart had to immerse myself in a very different culture.  For an Edinburgh public school boy, that was quite terrifying at first!

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Long before creating Taggart, in a universe far far away, I wrote a number of short plays for two London fringe theatres, but when TV came a-knocking I let it in and a Glasgow detective series was born.  While immensely grateful for everything TV did for me, about nine years ago I made the decision to go back into theatre, and not only write but produce – and ultimately direct – my own work.  It’s about taking control, taking risks, and doing the things you can’t do on television.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Entertainment value.  Showmanship.  Imaginative staging.  Something that sends me out smiling rather than shaking my head.  And if it changes my perception of life and gives me something to think about all the better.  I saw a show last year on the Fringe which was an interplanetary adventure through space and time and it was performed with cardboard boxes and an ironing board as a rocket.  It was brilliant.  I love that sort of stuff.

When did you first realise you could write for the stage?
It was an extremely hot summer in London (1976) and I had a dull office job on Piccadilly.  One day I got chatting to the boy who operated the photocopier (they were huge machines in those days).  It turned out he worked as a rent boy on his lunch hour and he told me a few stories about his experiences.  I wrote a play about him and his mates and it was put on at the Little Theatre in St Martin’s Lane, which is now Stringfellows.  He came along and loved it, and I realised I loved writing for the stage.  I often wonder what happened to him.

You are a prolific writer for stage & screen, but what does Glenn Chandler like to do when he’s not being theatrical?
I love walking and hill-climbing.  My partner and I used to spend two weeks every year in the Highlands with a tent, camping rough, but the midges sadly had a policy of non-cooperation.  I enjoy astronomy – I have a ten inch reflector at home.  Family history is another great passion, I have traced my Chandlers back to 1575 in the New Forest where they were yeoman farmers.  My favourite discovery was that my grandfather was a bigamist, a fact I’m very grateful for.  If he hadn’t abandoned his first wife in London and come to Edinburgh where he met my grandmother, I would never have been born and would not be writing this.

Can you tell us about the transition from being a writer to being a producer?
It was a baptism of fire.  In 2008 I produced my first two shows in Edinburgh, one of which was my own Boys of the Empire.  It was a sell-out.  However, somebody forgot to tell me that as a producer you have to put up/find/steal/borrow the money.  You also have to look after actors, soothe their egos, deal with hundreds of little problems that come up daily, like the young actor who was constipated for two weeks, went to the doctor and got an emergency quick-acting laxative.  He was performing two shows each day.  I went out and bought the nappies.  Luckily, his relief came between shows, but it was nerve-racking for a while.  You think being a producer is glamorous?

Lord Dismiss Us A3.jpg

You will be bringing Michael Campbell’s novel, Lord Dismiss Us,  to life this August, can you tell us about the novel & the play?
I read the novel as a teenager (under the bedclothes) and it made a great impression on me.  Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, it was a coming-out novel, all the more remarkable for the fact it was written in 1967.  As a gay teenager, who had gone through school and experienced some of the same emotions, I lapped up every page.  The play is the very first adaptation.  I have had to cut some characters and combine others  for reasons of time and economy, but the main protagonists are there and though I have had to tweak the story a bit I hope and believe I’ve stayed faithful to the spirit of the novel.

Do you feel a connection with Michael Campbell in any way?
Quite definitely.  He went to St Columba’s School in Dublin, which was his model for the sexually repressive Weatherhill School in the novel.  It is said that the suicide of a master there was the inspiration for one of the characters.  He lived for many years with his male lover, a publicity director for the firm of Heinemann who were his publishers.  When he died, he left the rights to Trinity College, Dublin, from where I bought the rights to adapt the novel for the Edinburgh Fringe.  I’d love to have met him and known more about his boyhood and schooldays, but even if half of Lord Dismiss Us is autobiographical, he was having rather an interesting time.  For the period.

What emotive responses do you expect from your audience?
Oh gosh.  I want them to laugh.  The novel is very, very funny and I hope the play is too.  The boys put on a school musical within the play which involves dressing up as girls, and there’s a passionate snog which raises the ire of the headmaster who tries to stop the show.  The result is mayhem.  But it’s a tragedy as well, and in the year that it’s set – 1967 – Parliament partially decriminalised the law on homosexuality.  Nevertheless, Terry, the hero of the novel, leaves school and will be a criminal until he is 21.  I want people to realise what life was like fifty years ago, to see how far we have come in half a century.  There are some powerful emotional storylines involving two boys in love, a master wrestling with his sexuality, treachery and betrayal.  Yup, I suppose I’m going for every emotion I can get.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Glenn Chandler?
I want to climb a Scottish mountain.  Desperately!  A stiff breeze and no midges and a bottle of Islay malt.  Then think about what happens to Lord Dismiss Us.  I have plans, but nothing cast in concrete yet.

 theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall
Aug 4-26: (18:05 – 19:25)