Monthly Archives: July 2018

An Interview with Cherie Moore

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This year The Last Tapes have been wowing New Zealand with their remarkable ‘Valerie.’ Luckily for us they have just arrived in Edinburgh… 

Hello Cherie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Cherie: Hi! I’m from Auckland, New Zealand. While in Edinburgh I’ll be performing in the Cairns Lecture Theatre at Summerhall!

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Cherie: I started singing when I was 7, and doing theatre when I was 13, so it seems my path was carved from an early age.

Can you tell us about your studies?
Cherie: I’ve had singing lessons since I was a kid. When I was a teenager I was in an auditioned youth theatre company. When I left school I did an arts degree in Drama and English, and then I went to drama school at The Actors’ Program.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Cherie: Fearless story telling. Courageous connection. Humanity.


You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Cherie: Nina Simone, Samuel Beckett, and Maya Angelou. For starters, caramelised fennel with toasted walnuts, I’d cook a spicy mango and coriander fish with coconut rice, broccoli and beans with lemon oil and sliced almonds for mains, and a dark chocolate mousse with raspberries for dessert.

Can you tell us about Last Tapes?
Cherie: Last Tapes is a small independent professional theatre company based in Auckland, New Zealand. We make and produce ‘theatre that gives a shit’. We’re interested in creating conversations through the medium of theatre, music, and live performance art.


You are bringing ‘Valerie’ to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about both the play & your own role?
Cherie: Valerie is an investigation of family mythology – what’s passed down through stories, and through genetics. It’s part theatre, part music gig, part science lecture. It uses story-telling, original music, and science to unravel my husband Robin’s family story, and ask whether mental illness is due to nature or nuture, and if you’re aware of that loaded gun whether it’s possible to avoid the bullet. I mostly play the role of Valerie – Robin’s grandmother (I know, Freud would have a field day with that. We even look similar). The form of the show is exciting, and the role of Valerie is mostly concerned with bringing information from the past. I also do the majority of the singing in the show.

What’s your experience with playing a real person who is part of your own family?
Cherie: I’ve aimed to capture the essence of Valerie and the core characteristics she brings to the journey of the show. This isn’t me trying to mimic her, but rather represent her and bring her story to life. It was really special having her in the audience on the final night of our very first season. She’s an amazing woman and it’s an honour to hold her history in this way.

How, why & when does the live music blend with the narrative?
Cherie: The music and narrative are intertwined and interspersed throughout the piece. Not only are there songs that capture the feeling of a narrative moment, but the show is through scored with sound to create atmosphere. Music is a powerful tool and we love to be able to use multiple disciplines to communicate.

Have you or any of the cast ever performed at the Fringe before?
Cherie: No, and we’re really excited to be here!

How is your working relationship with the show’s creator, Robin Kelly?
Cherie: Ha ha, well we’ve been in a relationship for nearly 10 years, so I’d say our working relationship is beautiful, and complex, and has a depth of understanding and empathy that can only come with that much shared experience.

Do the cast socialise outside rehearsals?
Cherie: Absolutely! We all love each other and are genuinely best friends. I couldn’t imagine doing this show with anyone but the team we have.

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You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street….?
Cherie: Hey! What are you doing at 9.15pm – because you should be coming to Summerhall to see Valerie – I promise it’s worth the ten pounds. It’s part theatre, part music gig, part science lecture. Valerie is an exciting interrogation of what the future holds in terms of inheritance. It’s a conversation about mental health. It’s a question – if your grandfather was mentally ill is it inevitable that you will be, or is it possible to claim an inheritance of resilience from your grandmother? It’s surprising, glamourous, and honest, and I’d love to see you there.

What will you & Last Tapes be doing after the Fringe?
Cherie: We’re rounding off the year performing at two arts festivals back home (we’ll have performed Valerie at most major festivals around NZ this year). I run an auditioned youth theatre company, teach singers, and direct shows, so I’ll be doing some more of that when we finish out touring for this year. Then, hopefully we’ll all be connecting with people we love, and taking what we learn at the festival with us on the next step in our journey with Valerie. In 2019 we hope to be touring Valerie internationally, and also collaborating with other artists to keep learning and to make new work.



August 1-27 (21.15)

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An Interview with Emma Hall

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Emma Hall had a break up, but being the superb dramaturge that she is, great art has happened! The Mumble were intrigued to find out what…

Hello Emma, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Emma: Born in New Zealand, grew up in Adelaide, but also in Canberra, Melbourne, London…. I’m typing this in Melbourne, but all my stuff is in storage and in a week I’ll be in Europe. I’ve been travelling for the last 8 months so tbh I’m living most of my life online right now!

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Emma: I have a love-hate relationship with theatre. So much of it is expensive and boring. When I was little I wanted to be film star, like most actors. But once when I was fully grown up I saw a Forced Entertainment show called Spectacular, with a man in a skeleton suit telling jokes onstage that weren’t funny, and a woman dying horrible fake deaths over and over in the background behind him. It was so weird and moving and unlike anything I’d ever seen or thought. Theatre gives us a way to explore life in silence and darkness, together. I’m now addicted.

Can you tell us about your training?
Emma: My actor training was at the Victorian College of the Arts, in Melbourne. Before that, I worked as a public servant for various departments and Prime Ministers for over ten years. Everything I know about comedy I learned in Government.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Emma: I like it when the artists are tackling a problem they don’t have the answer to. Theatre is about human truth, and human truth is always messy. So I think it’s perfectly honest to be confused. I enjoy being able to piece together my own answers. I hate being lectured at.

What does Emma Hall like to do when she’s not being, well, dramatic?
Emma: I’ve just started an online fitness program called Vshred with Vince, and every morning I meet him on youtube and we do 20 minute fitness circuits together. Vince is very hilarious, he literally doesn’t seem to care about anything but fitness, carb cycling and diet supplements. Such a nice change from talking about myself onstage.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three box set TV shows, what would they be?
Emma: Something boring and long that I’d never normally bother with. The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire?

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You are bringing ODE TO MAN To this year’s Brisbane festival, can you tell us about it?
Emma: I call Ode to Man my farewell to men in 15 chapters. It’s a mix of stand up comedy, storytelling, and poetry about contemporary Australian masculinity, told through the eyes of a straight woman who keeps falling in love with them. It was really important to me that the show was funny, because a lot of the material I cover is really personal for people. I wrote it after a bad breakup, when I was well and truly fed up with the bullshit that Australian Men grow up with, in terms of what they think society wants from them. These pressures play out in lots of unhelpful ways in people’s private lives, and impacts what men and women look for in a romantic partner. So I interviewed and surveyed almost 100 men in my life about what masculinity meant to them, and I’ve used this as the basis of the show, mixed in with a handful of life-changing personal experiences. What struck me from talking to so many men was that they didn’t want to talk about this stuff AT ALL. Often I’d get a cliché answer like ‘masculinity is about being big and strong’, or I’d get a joke (one guy answered ‘bacon’ to every question). But I also surveyed women about femininity at the same time, and the response was very different. Women grow up acutely aware of the limitations the world places on them because of their gender, so we’re far more able to talk about what being a woman is and can be. It annoyed me that men didn’t feel able to engage in this same conversation. Ode to Man was written before #metoo, the New Yorker take down of Harvey Weinstein, and Hannah Gasdsby’s Nanette. Right now, we are seeing some remarkable shifts in the public conversation about masculinity and gender politics. So I can’t wait to find out how Ode to Man will be viewed in that context.

How is director Prue Clark handling things?
Emma: Haha Prue is doing just fine! We’ve already performed Ode to Man in two cities so she’s leaving me to it this time around. Prue is currently working on Contest by Emilie Collyer, which is a show about netball. She once told me that Ode to Man was the least stressful show she’d ever worked on. You’re welcome.

Can you tell us about your stagecraft; the music, lights, sound & stage design – it seems quite sophisticated?
Emma: I worked with a dream team. Prue and I worked with an hilarious animator and video artist, Lindsay Cox, and brilliant sound artist/punk musician, Chris Wenn (from Primitive Calculators), who both developed original material for the show. There are so many dreams and fictions when it comes to ideas around gender and romance, and I wanted the visuals to help convey that. It’s fairly kooky. The set is designed is by a talented West Australian painter Ruby Smedley, who built a cosy canvas for Lindsay’s projections.

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After all that research, what are the three things that matter most to Men (in any order)?
Emma: I wish I knew, my friend. But I suspect that Men, like most Humans, want love, money, and power. And by power, I mean freedom to make their own choices in life. Which is a lot like women, really.

Has your ex seen the show?
Emma: Sadly no, but he’d be very welcome. I reckon he’d love it.

How will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Emma: Ah, such a good question. I like to think I’m getting better at knowing when it’s been a good show, but I’m still fairly useless at it. In comedy, it’s really clear: people either laugh or they don’t. It’s such a magic feeling when everyone in the room is in tune with you. But in theatre, it’s not always a bad sign if an audience goes quiet. So these days if people don’t run as soon as the lights go up, I try to take it as a good sign.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in a Brisbane street….?

What will you be doing after Brisbane?
Emma: In October I’m performing We May Have to Choose, in Lima, Peru. After that I’ll head into final rehearsals for my third show, World Problems, with Director Olivia Monticciolo. World Problems will premiere in Melbourne in early 2019. It’s a hectic/excellent time.


Ode to Man

Theatre Republic – The Loft 
Sept 11-15 (16.45)


An Interview with Valour & Tea


Valour & Tea love Vancouver, & of course Vancouver loves Valour & Tea. The Mumble managed a wee blether with the intrepid duo…

Hello ladies, so where are you both from and where are you at, geographically speaking?
Val: At present, we are both located in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). But Celene arrived in Alberta by way of Prince George, British Columbia.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Celene: Probably when I was around 9 years old and was cast as Mrs Claus in my primary school Christmas play. I’ve become a marginally better actor since then.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Val: I believe good theatre accounts for its audience – it requires them to be there. If your audience watches your play and thinks “that would work just as well on screen as on stage” then you’ve missed out. I think this is why so many theatre practitioners are now leaning towards site-specific work, shows that require audience participation, and pieces that are immersive – all of those experiences demand that the audience be present in order for them to happen.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Val: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Carl Reiner’s The Jerk and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Celene: Catherine II, Aphra Behn and Salvador Dali.
Starter: stuffed mushrooms
Main: charcuterie and cheese selection
Dessert: black forest cake (picked up from a bakery)

Stuffed mushrooms always remind me of family and home, and I think comfort food is a great ice-breaker. I’m not terribly domestic and wouldn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen whilst having such luminaries in my abode. Plus, I really like charcuterie.


Can you tell us about Valour & Tea?
‘Valour & Tea’ is the banner that Celene and I fly over our comedic misadventures. It provides us with an outlet for our mutual love for vaudeville-style duo comedy, as well as our other recklessly ambitious theatre projects. Our official-unofficial motto is “we can totally do that;” we chase our impulsive creative pipe-dreams with a profound bullheadedness and somehow make them work. And – amazingly – audiences seem to like it. Our work is character-driven, audience-interactive, often site-specific, and we always think we’re hilarious.

Six years into your creative journey together, what are you doing differently to when you started?
Celene: We’ve managed to introduce some order to the chaos – we didn’t really know what we were doing with our first show, DOES THIS TURN YOU ON? We had a lot of ideas but didn’t know how to refine and focus them into the greater story. As a result, DTTYO was very manic (though oh so fun) and I think we learned a great deal from that process. We also have the obvious benefit now of a long working relationship: we understand and trust one another. That encourages us to take risks and challenge ourselves, resulting in more interesting work.

You’ve done Vancouver before, with DOES THIS TURN YOU ON? – how did it go?
Celene: We love Vancouver as a city, and as our first non-hometown Fringe it was wonderfully welcoming of our weird clown sketch comedy show. The show received mixed reviews – I recall one person wrote at length about it and I was thrilled, thinking, “Yes, he got everything we were going for!”. And then I read a review where the critic’s one positive note was that it had a short running time. We didn’t lose our shirts, so overall I consider the experience a success. Vancouver is the last of the North American Fringe touring season, so it’s always really special to connect with other artists for one last hurrah. I think that’s part of the reason we keep coming back.

What are the ingredients to your style?
Val: Vaudeville, slapstick, physical theatre, music, dance and a teeny bit of puppetry.

Can you describe your working relationship with Celene in one word?
Val: Audacious

Can you describe your working relationship with Val in one word?
Celene: Intrepid


You’re bringing your new creation, Jan & Peg’s Ritual Sacrifice, to the Vancouver Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Celene: Two well-meaning housewives, one Tupperware party, one search for the perfect sacrifice. Nothing is sacred in this irreverent romp through the perils of multi-level marketing, proper ceremony etiquette, and ambrosia salad. Join Jan and Peg for some good old-fashioned fun, and who knows? Maybe later a very special guest will be conjured… er, drop by. Come for the cupcakes, stay for the summoning!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Val: “Oh hi there, hon! What are you doing this evening? Maybe you’d like to attend my totally normal Tupperware party! It’s totally normal and not at all suspicious in any way – say, how’s your liver? You look like a guy who has a really nice set of internal organs. You should bring those to my party – Kidneys, too, okay? Super, hon, see you tonight!”

What will you & your play be doing after the Fringe?
Celene: There are no concrete plans yet, but as we build a repertoire of shows to draw on I think a tour is inevitable. We both love travel and there’s nothing like the working vacation of doing a project in a new city. And as a company we design our shows to be as low-waste and mobile as possible. Have art, will travel!


Jan & Peg’s Ritual Sacrifice

Tickets on sale August 8th

Performance Works

Sept 7 – 6:00pm
Sept 9 – 9:30pm
Sept 11 – 7:00pm
Sept 12 – 7:00pm
Sept 15 – 3:00pm
Sept 16 – 5:45pm


An Interview with Joanne Hartstone

There are not enough superlatives to describe the talents of Australian, Joanne Hartstone, & this year she’s bringing two plays to the Fringe. The Mumble managed a wee blether about her doubling up…

Hello Joanne, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Joanne: I am from Adelaide in South Australia, but I am currently in London (about to travel to Edinburgh)

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Joanne: I was always performing as a child, dressing up and doing impromptu performances. When I was 4, my parents enrolled me in a dance class, and I loved it! I particularly loved the end of year concerts, and performing became a regular part of my life. I spent the next 12 years training as a dancer, as well as taking acting lessons and singing lessons. In the meantime, my father would take me to musicals and concerts and operas and plays. I was hooked!

Can you tell us about your theatrical training?
Joanne: Straight after high school I was accepted into Flinders University Drama Centre, where I trained as a professional actor under the expert tutelage of Professors Jules Holledge, Michael Morley, Murray Bramwell, Malcolm Fox and Joh Hartog. It was a 4 year honours degree, in which we had practical training mixed with theoretical and academic study. Our class was very small – 5 women and 7 men. Entry to the degree is audition-based, so I was very lucky to be accepted as there were very few positions for hundreds of applicants. We were trained for all performance mediums – stage, screen, improv, immersive, dance, voice – however I found myself mostly drawn to the stage. I loved the process of creating a play and the thrill of performing in-front of a live audience was hard to beat!

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Joanne: Meet Me In St Louis, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Singin’ In The Rain

What does Joanne Hartstone like to do when she’s not being, well, dramatic?
Joanne: I love playing with my dog, Molly, and spending time with my family. And I’m rather partial to a delicious meal.

You are quite the international performer, regularly taking your shows across three continents. What is about such a restless adventure that makes you tick?
Joanne: I’m driven to present my work to as many different audiences as possible. In each location, the cultural diversities elicit a range of responses to my shows, and I really enjoy the varying artistic conversation between performer and playgoers. For example, when we played New York in January 2018 with The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign, our timing coincided with the Golden Globe awards ceremony, where women (and men) wore black in solidarity for the #TimesUp campaign. My character has always deliberately worn a black dress. The coincidence was not lost on patrons and reviewers who noted: And, in a piece of prescient staging, she endows Evie with a stoic pride in her fashion choice, a black dress. As if channeling the sisterhood of this year’s Golden Globe’s red carpet, she declares, “I thought black would be appropriate.” As I continue to travel and present my work, I am humbled and inspired by people and places, history and innovations. My absolute favourite thing is when people discover things in my work that I thought no one would notice, or they draw parallels that even I didn’t know were there!

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Can you tell us about Hartstone-Kitney Productions?
Joanne: Hartstone-Kitney Productions is a relatively new endeavour between myself and Tom Kitney – an incredible production designer and technical wiz. Our company has formed organically over the months that we have been making theatre together, as well as running a venue, presenting international work and planning seasons. We are a great onstage/offstage team. We have decades of experience in this industry between us, and it is exciting to make plans and continue to grow and develop together as practitioners. Tom has taught me a lot about his side of making theatre, and I am a better producer and maker because of him.

Can you describe your working relationship with Tom Kitney in a single word?
Joanne: Innovative!​

You are bringing two solo shows to this years Fringe, what are they called?
Joanne: My two solo shows are The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign and That Daring Australian Girl.

Joanne: So, can you tell us more about, let’s start with The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign, what’s it about?
Joanne: The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign follows the journey of Evie Edwards, an aspiring actress who is determined to have an opportunity to be in the movies. We meet Evie as she is at the end of her tether – she has climbed the ‘H’ of the Hollywood Sign and is contemplating her next move. She reveals the path that has lead her to consider recreating the fateful leap that Peg Entwistle took in 1932, whilst also lamenting the fate of her idols – the women of Hollywood who sacrifice so much to be stars. It is a revealing commentary on America’s Dream Factory, from a point of view rarely observed, mixed with music from the era.

It’s won quite a few awards so far, what are they?
Joanne: It won the inaugural Made In Adelaide award at the 2017 Adelaide Fringe, as well as the Holden Street Theatres award. Then when I took the show to Hollywood and we won the Producers’ Encore Award. We were also awarded the TVolution Platinum Medal and Combined Artist & Fringe Management ‘Pick Of The Fringe’, as well as Better Lemon’s Critics Choice Awards and the TVolution Best Solo Show (Female) Award. The play has also been nominated for a host of other awards including: Best Female Performance (Professional) for the ATG Curtain Call Awards 2017, the Best International Production Award at Hollywood Fringe 2017, the Distinctive Voices Award, the Soaring Solo Artist Award and the Larry Cornwall Award for best use of music in a non-musical show.

What do you think is the play’s secret to its success with the judges?
Joanne: Perhaps the show resonates with judges (and audiences and critics) because is because it is a production that ticks a lot of boxes. The play is set in a fascinating time in history and tells many true stories of famous (and not so famous) people, showing the level of research and detail that has been packed into the monologue. However it is also incredibly relevant, and recent events in the entertainment industry (and the consequential #metoo movement) have made the play even more important as part of these global discussions and reflections. It is also a showcase for the performer, requiring an advanced level of singing competency, vocal dexterity, accent ability, characterisation and character switching, emotional range and immediacy, and to some degree dance and choreographic skill. It is also highly layered, with a spherical structure, which always appeals to an audiences’ thirst for catharsis. Plus it probably helps that (in this case) the writer and producer is also the performer, acting in an accent that is not her native tongue. But aside from all these elements, The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign is a really enjoyable, interesting show that stays in your mind for days afterwards.

Great stuff. So moving on to That Daring Australian Girl, what’s the play about?
Joanne: That Daring Australian Girl is the true story of Muriel Matters, a South Australian actress who travelled to London in 1905 and became one of the leading public figures of the UK’s Suffragette Movement. Muriel was a teacher, a journalist, a lecturer and elocutionist and was known as the “foremost female orator in Britain”. Muriel became the world’s first aerial protestor when she flew in a dirigible balloon with ‘Votes For Women’ on the side over London. She was also the first female voice in Parliament, chaining herself to the ‘Grille’ in the Women’s Viewing Gallery in the House of Commons. Muriel was the first woman to challenge for the electoral seat of Hastings, and she lived through two World Wars and two feminist revolutions. Muriel’s legacy is that of a social reformist, a woman who believed that change was not only possible, but vital.

Have you connected with the story of Muriel Matters on a personal level?
Joanne: The parallels between Muriel’s life and my own were immediately apparent when I began researching her life and achievements. I was born mere kilometres away from Muriel’s place of birth – separated only by the North Adelaide parklands and 107 years. She began her career as an actress and elocutionist – I began my career as an actress and a singer. Muriel was a teacher – I am a teacher. Muriel left her home in Australia for the bigger theatrical industry in London – I travel to the UK at least once a year to participate in theatrical festivals. However, I have connected with Muriel on more than our biographical coincidences. Muriel’s ethos, which champions social reform and equality, is also close to my heart. She dedicated her life to the betterment of the community around her, and used her skills to educate, inspire and effect change. Muriel has inspired me to use my skill in a similar way and shown me the value of my work as a communicator and creator.

Among the many accomplishments of Muriel Matters, she was an excellent elocutionist. How are you handling your vocal portrayal of the character?
Joanne: There is only one existing recording of Muriel speaking and her voice is simply from another time. She sounds unreal to a modern ear, which is a challenge for a performer wanting to recreate her as accurately as possible. Muriel sounds like an old-fashioned, upper class, educated Australian who has lived in England for many years, and if I were to copy her voice exactly I feel it would alienate an audience with disbelief. She does have strong Australian diphthongs blended with RP, so I use my own South Australian accent with additional PR rounding out the tone. Luckily I have had years of training on vocal technique (spoken word and singing) and use as many tricks as I can to evoke Muriel’s highly trained “magical” voice, without sounding too structured or technical.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell each show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Joanne: That Daring Australian Girl:
The unknown true Suffragette story of the first woman to ‘speak’ in the House of Commons, the world’s first aerial protester and the ‘foremost woman orator in Britain’ – who was actually an Australian Actress!
The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign:
A historical, feminist drama about the Golden Age of Hollywood and the systemic abuse of power in America’s Dream Factory, with songs by Hollywood’s greatest stars: Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, the Andrews Sisters and more!

Can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Joanne: The Edinburgh Fringe is exhilarating, challenging, humbling and magical – but as a performer it is marathon, not a sprint!

The Girl Who Jumped…

Assembly George Square Studios
Aug 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 (11:45)


That Daring Australian Girl

Assembly George Square Studios
Aug 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 (11:45)


An Interview with Vicki Sargent


Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Vicki Sargent is coming back to perform at the Fringe, & this time she’s bringing a pal. The Mumble managed a wee blether…

Hello Vicki, & welcome back to the Fringe, how’s your year been?
Vicki: Thank you it’s great to be back. It’s been a really fun year; I’ve been dipping into lots different creative avenues from stand up comedy to tap dancing, building my skills set and developing a lot of resilience. I feel more confident, personally and professionally, than ever heading into this years Fringe, which is a lovely mind-set to have. And I’m really looking forward to all of that disappearing the second I start flyering!

Can you tell us about your theatrical training?
Vicki: I trained at City Lit in Covent Garden. It was a nice alternative to expensive full time drama schools and they covered a plethora of acting styles. Also, with it being an adult education centre, I was training with a really diverse group of people aged 18 – 62 and from all over the world and I loved learning with a group of people who didn’t all look and sound the same; we all had different backgrounds and knowledge to bring and share.

Can you tell us about Dressing Gown Diaries?
Vicki: Dressing Gown Diaries is a fun little YouTube series I run on my channel Vicki’s List. It’s literally me sitting about in a dressing gown with a cup of tea chatting about anything from horoscopes to my hatred of dogs (that one created a lot of controversy). I started it last year in the run up my last Fringe show One Woman Army, in which I wore a dressing gown for the whole show. I wanted to challenge myself to just make some regular content and not have to worry about doing my make-up but just being myself and having a laugh!


You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Vicki: William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Eric Morecambe. I’m a terrible cook so I’d go for something simple like cheesy garlic bread to start, Spaghetti Bolognese for mains and a bake from frozen lemon meringue pie for dessert. I don’t care what my esteemed guests want, that’s all my favourites and no it’s not fancy, but it will fill you up! Shakespeare will lose his mind when he tries Sainsbury’s own brand meringue.

What does Vicki Sargent like to do when she’s not being creative?
Vicki: Sit about in my pyjamas and watch TV to be honest. It might not be cool, but it is comfortable and with the quality of Netflix these days how can you blame me? I also enjoy kickboxing, moaning, and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Last year you brought your show One Woman Army, what have you got for us this year?
Vicki: This year I have comedy play Old Souls which is about a befriend the elderly scheme. My character Rosie is 21 years old and loves nothing more than staying in with her mum watching telly and avoiding having any kind of social life. She may or may not be loosely based on myself. Rosie joins up to the befriending scheme hoping to meet the grandma of her dreams but what she gets is Vera. Vera wishes that she was out in a club, off her face, and dancing till the sun comes up. But Vera is 78 years old and her body won’t let her live that life anymore and she is angry about it. Especially when bright young thing Rosie walks in with lemon drizzle cake and her only passion is reserved for getting the conundrum on countdown. It’s a clash of personalities but ultimately they both have something to learn from each other.


Why did you choose to write a play about befriending the elderly?
Vicki: The NHS says: “more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.” I had seen a few news stories on loneliness in the elderly and I thought it was such a tragic, heart-breaking issue with such a simple solution: befriending the elderly schemes. Volunteers give just an hour of their week to go and visit an elderly person and have a cuppa and chat. I thought if I could show how fun befriending could be through a comedy play it might inspire people to join up.

Can you describe your working relationship with co-actress Janet Garner in a single word?
Vicki: Cushty.

What is it about Dartford which inspires you so much?
Vicki: It’s my home; it’s what I know and it’s where I feel comfortable. I think there is a lot of humour, whether intentional or otherwise, to be found in small working class towns like Dartford. So many wonderful characters to be met and a real authentic, down-to-earth charm that I try to carry with me in all of my comedy work.

How is director Matt Mitchell handling your brain-child?
Vicki: Very well! He’s a writer/filmmaker so he has a great understanding of structure and excellent attention to detail. He can take the simplest piece of dialogue and tweak it into a hilarious joke, which I never knew was there – and I wrote the thing! Janet and myself feel very safe to try things out under his direction, which is especially important since this is Janet’s first acting role.

What do you hope an audience member will take away from the show?
Vicki: I’d be thrilled if audience members came away from watching Old Souls and signed up for a befriending scheme. If just one elderly person feels a little less lonely as a result of this play that would be incredible. I also hope it inspires people to be bolder and braver even if that also means being scared and uncertain.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Vicki: It’s a really funny, heart warming show about a befriend the elderly scheme. Rosie is young but old, Vera is old but young. Rosie wants tea and cake. Vera wants a whiskey on the rocks. It’s a comedy play about friendship, age stereotypes and learning to be brave.

What will Vicki Sargent be doing after the Fringe?
Vicki: Writing a sitcom with Matt Mitchell, making more videos in my dressing gown and performing Old Souls again in some new and exciting places!

Old Souls

Riddle’s Court
3rd – 27th August (Not 8th, 13th or 20th) (17.00)


An Interview with The Healthy Oyster Collective

The world is going politics crazy, upon which wave is surfing the magnificent theatrical nous of The Healthy Oyster Collective. The Mumble were delighted to catch them for a wee blether…

Hello Eric, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Eric: I was raised in Southern California, then I was in New England for college. I moved to New York City afterwards, and I now am pursuing my masters degree in Iowa. So, all over the U.S.

Hello Lila, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Lila: Hiya! I’m grew up Washington DC, New York City is home, and I’m in a masters program right now in Iowa. So I guess you could say I’m an East Coast gal in an Iowa body, at the moment.

When did you first develop a passion for performance art?
Lila: All my friends were auditioning for Seussical the Musical in middle school, so I tagged along so as to not be left behind. I was cast in the chorus of inanimate objects where they put all of the kids who were passionate but not talented. The feeling of performing was addictive!

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Eric: I don’t know if I can pinpoint what exactly is in a good piece of theatre. I think theatre that excites me, across many forms and styles, is work created from a sense of unknowingness, where the creators don’t begin with a predetermined notion about how to make the piece “work.” I think naïvetée is under appreciated as a process tool.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Eric: I’d invite over three famous anti-Semites: Richard Wagner, Henry Ford, and Pope Urban II (who called for the First Crusade). I would then make them sit through a full Passover Seder. There would eventually be gefilte fish, brisket, and kugel, but first they’d have to sit through an eight hour service. Call it dinner party revenge.

How did you get into directing?
Lila: beloved professor in university convinced me that I didn’t actually want to perform, I wanted to direct. (I sat in his office to discuss my work in acting class, and tearfully told him “I know what I want it to look like, I just don’t want to do it!”) The next semester, I directed Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal and thought, “Yeah, he’s right.”

Can you tell us about The Healthy Oyster Collective?
Eric: The Healthy Oyster Collective a group of theater artists who create socially conscious works in theatrically playful forms. We’ve been around five years, and we’ve created three full length works – If the Saints Arrive in Germany, Kingdom Crosses Over, and Pastoral Play. bad things happen here is our first project we’re producing outside of the U.S.

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Your subject matter is often politically-hewn, where does the compulsion come from?
Lila: I grew up in an activist family, so politics were everywhere. We discussed elections and strategy for getting environmental legislation through Congress around the dinner table. I was encouraged to read the newspapers strewn all over the house. In DC, people talk about politics like people elsewhere talk about sports–it’s all-consuming. So that’s really the lens I bring to all of my work: how does this play plug into the larger world and its power structures?

Your plays have been shown all across the North American continent – are you excited about the appearance of your work in Edinburgh?
Eric: I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to seeing how my work functions in the U.K., what audiences here latch onto that U.S. audiences ignored, what seems superfluous here that to U.S. audiences seemed essential. It’ll be a radically different audience to be in conversation with; I’m curious to see what that conversation looks like.


This year you are directing bad things happen here at the Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Lila: bad things happen here is a tour of a fascist state loosely based on the Argentine Dirty War. (And, increasingly, on the present-day USA.) Our tour guides are two women, who play 40 different characters between them as they take us through the lives of people of various classes, ages, and political allegiances living under this regime. Unlike many pieces about violent regimes, bad things happen here focuses not on rebels or state agents, but on everyday folks just trying to get through the day alive. Eric has also done a beautiful job focusing on the linguistic changes that accompany fascism–what’s unsaid is as important as what’s said.

How does this play grapple with the current world of Trump and Brexit?
Eric: bad things happen here is an examination of nationalism run rampant, and how that intersects with issues of class, misogyny, and language. I’m interested in how nationalistic rhetoric infects our everyday speech, how words lose and gain new meanings during times of political chaos. Trump, and Brexit, thrive on linguistic corruption and lies passed off as truth – who is considered a “citizen,” what we mean by a “nation.” We’re living in a time where politicians like Trump lie outright without consequence. bad things happen here is, in part, an attempt to get underneath these obfuscations.

Can you tell us about your stagecraft; the music, sound & stage design?
Lila: Eric and I both feel very strongly about creating a strong rhythm in our work. The stagecraft and technical elements are designed to ensure that nothing disrupted the quick rhythm and accumulation of the play. Eric is very intentional about when information is released to the audience, so paradoxically, the design is abstract so that you’re not getting a ton of detail about place, time, world, etc. from the set and costumes. All of the information comes through the dialogue and relationship between the characters. There’s very little blocking and gesture, the costumes might be something one might wear today, and the design doesn’t acquire specific meaning until later in the play. (And I don’t want to give too much away!) Avi A. Amon wrote the music for the show, which communicates tone and mood rather than location and setting. The design team and actors have done an extraordinary job painting with an extremely limited palette.

Can you describe your cast members in a single word?
Lila: Wow, so many of the adjectives I thought of are gendered female in a condescending way. I’m going to go with what they would be if they were birds.
Molly Winstead = piping plover
Marieta Carrero = cockatiel

How do you think a Fringe audience will receive the material, are you up to speed with British opinion?
Eric: I can’t consider myself an expert on British opinion (or American opinion for that matter!), but I’m optimistic the play will speak to audiences interested in new work. I always have drawn heavily from British writers, such as Caryl Churchill, Edward Bond, and Sarah Kane, so there is certainly an artistic lineage in Britain that bad things happen here is a part of. It’s been a difficult play to work on; it’s also got some silly jokes, and is beautiful to look at thanks to Lila and our designers. And it’s only hour – still plenty of time to grab a beer afterwards.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Lila: It’s as if Caryl Churchill wrote The Handmaid’s Tale.

bad things happen here


Paradise in the Vault
Aug 4-11, 13-18 (18:45)

An Interview with Steve Attridge

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Steve Attridge is a very cool guy indeed & his theatre is, dare we say it, even cooler. The Mumble were lucky enough to catch a wee blether…

Hello Steve, & welcome back to Edinburgh, how has your year been?
Steve: Hello to you. Been a great year. Went to Komodo Island in Indonesia to see the Komodo dragons, the big cannibalistic dinosaurs that can grow up to three metres and look at you with Neanderthal contempt. On the island you get up close to them – health and safety doesn’t exist, which is refreshing. Also went to Cambodia and did volunteer work with elephants in the jungle. Fell in love with them all. Was exhausting – temperatures of 40C – and exhilarating. Also got a few plays written which are doing the rounds. Been working on a book.

Last year you brought Dick in Space to the Fringe, how did it all go?
Steve: Very good experience. Was my first time so I learnt a lot – what to do, what not to do. Some excellent reviews. People liked the show and I’ve performed it since. One bad review but I can safely say that it’s been taken care of and the body will never be found.

What have you got for us this year?
Steve: Ron the Plumber meets God-Cilla. One man show. Part of the Free Fringe.

That’s quite an interesting title; where & when did the idea come from?
Steve: Ron first appeared a few years ago in a comedy review I wrote and performed. Audiences really liked him so it was always in my mind to write a one man show for him. I wanted a showcase for him – a bit of narrative with an episodic mix of stand up, comedy character and bits of theatre. An OCD character on the rampage through the pipes and cisterns of the nation in a quest to destroy something evil.

And now the all important question, you’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Steve: They would be Judas Iscariot, Charles Darwin and Marie Lloyd. Starter would be unleavened bread and oil – Judas would appreciate this because it was what was eaten at the Last Supper. Mains would fish and Darwin could tell us how it evolved and eventually turned into us. Dessert would be spotted dick and custard because Marie, as an East End girl, would appreciate it.

Can you tell us about your time working with John Cooper Clarke, & what did you learn from the experience?
Steve: I learnt to keep a show moving, create a persona, don’t take anything too seriously and don’t drink barley wine.

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OK back to Edinburgh; can you tell us about your stagecraft; the music, sound & stage design this year?
Steve: Tried to keep it simple. A few props, a few surprises, let the character carry the show and get rid of anything that overcomplicates or detracts from him.

How much of Steve Attridge is there in Ron the Plumber?
Steve: I’m obsessive (though not about plumbing), a bit anarchic and often carry things too far.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell Ron the Plumber VS God-Cilla to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Steve: Jokes hot from the porcelain with OCD deranged plumber Ron. Alarming suicides, traumatised French Poodles, exploding toilets, God disappearing, disastrous sign language dating and rabid Nazi bath taps. No better way to spend forty five minutes than to dance the thin line between sanity and ballcock derangement with Ron.

For someone performing their own show for the first time at the Fringe, what advice do you have for them?
Steve: Pace yourself.

What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Steve: Going to Spain to write, play tennis and drink wine.

Ron the Plumber meets God-Cilla

The Loft, The Counting House
Aug 2-17th  (13.30)

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The combination of Steve’s genuine quality & a cleverly thought-out, gag-punctuated, innuendo-pregnant script brings dividends – Mumble Theatre four-stars.png 

An Interview with Hayden Wood

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Interactive Theatre International serve up both good food & brilliant theatre at the same time. They’re bringing four shows to the Fringe this year, & the Mumble managed a wee blether with one of the cast of the very hilarious The Wedding Reception…

Hello Hayden so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hayden: Home is the Lincolnshire countryside, between Stamford and Grantham. At the moment though, I am living in London.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Hayden: I was terrified of getting on a stage until I was about 10. I ended up playing the Dame in a school pantomime, and that show pretty much made me do a 180! I performed in plays time to time throughout secondary school, but going to University is when it became a true passion for me.

Can you tell us about your theatrical training?
Hayden: I actually didn’t go to Drama School. I studied History at The University Of York. About half way through my studies I started working as an actor professionally. I’ve always been a firm believer of on-the-job learning. I spent a lot of time self-motivating: reading books on theory, keeping my eyes (and ears) open for opportunities, talking with other actors. The biggest thing was trying to keep realistic self-assessments, and finding new ways to grow and develop.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Hayden: That’s easy – Forrest Gump, Drive and Liar Liar. Unless an eleven season Frasier marathon also counts as a movie?

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What does Hayden Wood like to do when he’s not being creative?
Hayden: Is coffee a hobby? Actually, I am into loads of things! I’m a big reader and chain-listen to podcasts, but music is a serious passion of mine. I love discovering new artists and going to gigs, or just staying home and noodling around on my own instruments. I’m also very into sport, and I maintain a weekly (ish) football and culture blog called The Armchair Journeyman. Oh, and travel; you can’t beat a good city break.

Can you tell us about your time with Belt Up Theatre?
Hayden: I worked for Belt Up between 2009 and 2012. That was when most of the ensemble and artistic directors (including myself) lived up in York. I originated roles in Outland, Lorca Is Dead, Odyssey and Octavia and performed in The Boy James, The Tartuffe and various others. I went to Edinburgh Fringe with Belt Up in 2010 and 2011 – which was great. I also co-wrote the music (with Alexander Flanagan-Wright) for Belt Up’s first musical; The Beggar’s Opera, and composed bits and bobs for the company’s various other shows. It was an incredibly special time in my life, and one that’s given me some of my very dearest friends. Belt Up allowed me to cut my teeth as an actor, and grow as a person. I even met my girlfriend working on a Belt Up show. I’m getting all sentimental thinking about it now! I could go on and on and on, but I won’t bore you. I’ll only say this; without the opportunities and experiences afforded me by working for that company, and the people I met, I wouldn’t have become a professional actor or the performer I am today.

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You have been with Interactive Theatre International for less than a year, how did you get involved & how are you finding it so far?
Hayden: I got involved by swapping jobs with a man who looks like me. I’d been in the West End cast of The Play That Goes Wrong for a year and- at the end of my contract- the actor who took over the role I had been playing mentioned I might be interested in auditioning for the job he was stepping away from. That actor was a tall mustachioed man called Jack Baldwin and that job was playing Basil in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience. I had my first FTTDE gig in August 2017, and started on The Wedding Reception: Confetti & Chaos in February of this year. It’s been an incredible year working for ITI. I’ve made some great friends, met some extraordinary performers and creators, been to Antigua, twice to Australia and all over the UK. More to the point, it’s a real pleasure to work on two shows which I think are genuinely fantastic. I’ve made some great memories and am looking forward to plenty more in the coming years. The company genuinely feels like a big family. Everyone supports one another in all their endeavors.

This Fringe you will be bringing The Wedding Reception to Edinburgh, can you tell us about the Show?
Hayden: Will and Stacey have just got married and are not expecting a wedding reception. Fortunately (for us, perhaps less so for the happy couple) Stacey’s parents have organised a surprise party with all their friends and loved ones (the audience). As the evening unfolds, laughs are had, drinks are drunk, and old stories and secrets bubble to the surface. All nine of the characters (played by the four of us) want the evening to go well for Will and Stacey but- as well all know- the best laid plans…. There’s an immense amount of heart and warmth in the show, it’s fast-paced and really funny. And the audience get a three course meal. What’s not to love?

Do you & the cast socialise outwith rehearsals?
Hayden: We tour all over the place, which is a lovely way to bond with people. Many an ITI friendship has been forged over a post-show pint in a hotel bar in the middle of nowhere. And we all go to see each other’s shows outside of ITI as well. I’m organising a rounders game for the Fringe crew. The Basils have a Whatsapp group too! We keep busy, as a group. Come to think of it, I might suggest a Fantasy Football league…

How will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Hayden: In both Faulty Towers The Dining Experience and The Wedding Reception, I think it’s about two things; rhythm and audience connection. Both shows have a great collective rhythm which builds throughout. When it sits right, it’s like flying. The audience connection is even more important in these shows than most I’ve worked on, because we’re so physically close to people, and because we encourage participation. No two shows are the same so a good performance, to me, feels like one in which audience and actors have been united in a journey and experience. It’s our job to be open and receptive to our audience and, in a way, all the audience need to do is relax and let themselves be taken on a journey. I love it when, playing Ricky (the best man in The Wedding Reception), an audience member asks a question of genuine interest about my past life with Will, the groom. That’s a lovely feeling, because it means that person has given themselves over to the story we’re telling. They know they’re watching actors, they know they’ve bought a ticket, and yet they are prepared to suspend their disbelief and go along with whatever we throw their way. A show in which people do that – partly because of our work and partly because of their willingness – always feels like a good show to me.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Hayden: It’s a big-hearted and chaotic two-hour story about love, growth and how nobody’s quite perfect, but most people are pretty bloody wonderful. It has singing, dancing, a three course meal and underpants! There is super-fast multi-rolling, razor sharp comedic timing and just the right amount of audience participation! Silliness, warmth and a lovely bit of escapism is promised and I guarantee there is not another show quite like it at The Fringe this year. Did I mention the underpants?

What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Hayden: I’m busy busy with ITI in the autumn, going to Wales, the Lake District and Gibraltar. In November and December I’ll be playing Burke in Burke and Hare (another Edinburgh connection) at Jermyn Street Theatre in London. We originally did the show at The Watermill, so it’ll be great to give it a second life at Christmas!

The Wedding Reception

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Venue 119: Principal Edinburgh George Street, 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PB

Dates: 2-27 August 2018 daily

Times: all performances at 6pm, ex 4 Aug at 5pm and 8 Aug at 7:30pm.

Tickets – all tickets include 3-course meal and 2-hour show:

– Friday-Saturday dinner: £45.00 (peak).
– all other shows: £42.00 (off-peak).

An Interview with Katie Grace Cooper

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Interactive Theatre International are bringing four shows to the Fringe this year, & the Mumble managed a glass of bubbly & a wee blether with the creator of their newest piece, Pamela’s Palace…

Hello Katie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Katie: I was born a Suffolk lass but soon migrated to Essex where I really embraced the local culture.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Katie: When I was five I was given the role of Burlington Bertie from Bow. I wore a moustache and had a cane. I was awesome. I still remember the song “I’m Burlington Bertie, I rise at 10:30 and saunter along like a toff”. And I fell in love from there.

Can you tell us about your training in the clowning arts?
Katie: A while ago I heard about this performance technique where you look right at the audience and ask “do you love me?” I remember thinking how awfully pretentious that sounded, but also AMAZING. The connection and sensitivity with the audience felt important so I needed to know more. I started to see performers like Doctor Brown, Trygve Wakenshaw, Julien Coutereau and I was in love. I decided to embarked on this (frankly, incredible) journey and I had the honour of learning from clown and comedy masters like Gaulier, Cal McCrystal, Paul Hunter and Mick Barnfather. That’s not even an exhaustive list. In a lot of ways I still feel at the beginning of my journey. I think I will always feel that way – the more you learn, the more you realise how much there is that you don’t know.

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What is it about performing live that makes you tick?
Katie: I think there is something in those magical moments when things go wrong, or not quite according to plan. In a lot of ways, it’s a relief for the audience because everyone can relate to failure; and for me, sitting in the comfort of failure, embracing the fragility and unpredictability of performance is when I am most vulnerable and feel most connected to the audience.

You are a lady of versatility & talent, but what does Katie Grace Cooper like to do when she’s not being a creative polymath?
Katie: My fella and I live on a boat, so on my down time we love to travel up and down on the canal!

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Katie: Blimey! That’s a good one. Hmmmmm. So Emma Thompson is definitely one. I would ask her to perform her beautiful scene in Love Actually with the Joni Mitchell CD. Jill Soloway, who is the writer of epic series Transparent. I would basically try to network and smooze my large (but perfectly formed) behind to get a role in her next series. And finally, Millie Bobby Brown, the Stranger Things star. I would definitely request that she arrived as Eleven. And, obviously it’s a PIZZA PARTY! All the way. Coke floats for dessert.

You have been with Interactive Theatre International for almost three years, how did you get involved & how are you finding it so far?
Katie: My very dear friend, Oliver Harrison, who has been playing Manuel in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience for a few years, informed me that they were auditioning for the bride in The Wedding Reception. So I went along to an audition and was very lucky to be given the job!

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This Fringe you are part of Pamela’s Palace, in fact you co-wrote & devised it. Can you tell us about the show?
Katie: I love this show! It’s an interactive comedy set in a hairdressers. We’re working with an all female cast (even directed by a lady) and we’re looking at topics that are affecting women today – age, beauty, the pressures of being a woman, strength, weakness, vulnerability. It’s just about being human in an unforgiving world but it definitely brushes cheeks with feminism. It’s also so much fun! There are dance routines, original music and three really funny women.

Are you excited about bringing your creative brain-child to the Fringe?
Katie: The most excited I have ever been. There is nothing like coming to the Fringe with a show you are really proud of. We are really, truly proud of Pamela’s Palace.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Katie: This is a comedy show with sharp jokes, good dancing, and your ticket includes free bubbles and nibbles!!!!

Can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Katie: The most mentally and emotionally challenging month, but also the best experience of your life!

What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Katie Grace Cooper?
Katie: Touring Pamela’s Palace around the world! Well, maybe not the world, but we are hoping to take her to Melbourne Comedy Fringe and Adelaide next year.

Pamela’s Palace

Venue 119: Principal Edinburgh George Street, 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PB

Dates: 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27 August 2018

Times: all performances at 9pm, doors 8:30pm.

Tickets – all tickets include 1-hour show, nibbles and a glass of bubbles: £25.00

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An Interview with Sam Rees


Sam Rees possesses a brilliant theatrical mind, & is just about to unleash a Nick Cave inspired, dreamy love paean upon the Fringe. The Mumble managed a wee blether…

Hello Sam so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Sam: Hi! I was born in North-East London but moved to East Anglia when I was 2. I grew up in a town called Bury St Edmunds, about 20 minutes from Cambridge.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Sam: Looking back, I think when I learnt all the words to ‘Commotion in The Ocean’ before I could read, it was already pretty inevitable.

What does Sam Rees like to do when he’s not being creative?
Sam: Mainly earn money in order to be creative! But I also love music and have recently gotten back into swimming after some less than healthy years at university.


How, where, when & why were ‘We Talk Of Horses Theatre’ formed, & what is your role in the company?
Sam: The company was formed by me and one of my bestest mates, Pip Williams, who also studied drama at UEA. We solidified around an idea about July 2017. We’re both artistic directors, as well as (for this project) writers and performers. We brought in another mate to direct, another to do the music, and another to do the publicity art. Next time round I think the pair of us would like to switch up our roles again, scare ourselves a bit.

What is the company ethos, exactly, what are trying to achieve?
Sam: We formed because we believe that when it really comes down to it theatre is more collaborative than it is competitive. Particularly in this day and age, with more and more people wanting to succeed at it, we think it’s so, so important to form bonds, compromise, make friends, share ideas, enrich each other. No man’s an island. As we expand we want to bring more and more people in, add more talent to the melting pot.

Last year you were in Edinburgh with Suited Elephant’s ‘POV,’ how did you find the experience?
Sam: That was an amazing experience. And for me, very formative. It was a verbatim show about pornography, and as such there was no proper writing involved, but I was given the opportunity to lead some workshops and put the piece together, edit, arrange, be a dramaturg essentially. I don’t think any of us had worked on a piece like it before, so we were quite unsure about how it would be received. Then we got there and spoke to our audiences, saw we were getting some 5 star reviews, and it just took us aback. To be validated in that way is very intoxicating. It made me realize I wanted to make work, not just be in it.

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This Fringe you will be bringing You Down There and Me Up Here, can you tell us about the show?
Sam: I don’t want to just bash out the flyer blurb, but the quick pitch is it’s about two young men struggling to hang onto their identity in the face of crisis. One is a recovering heroin addict who is convinced he’s the rock star Nick Cave (and maybe he is) the other is a man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with someone while already being in a relationship. It follows their parallel journeys, their struggles to fulfil their desires, and how they change for the better or worse. It’s about the nature of truth, our expectations from life, how we see love and devotion, what it means to be obsessed with someone, and the difference between who we are and how we are seen.

Where did the idea come from for You Down There And Me Up Here?
Sam: The pair of us had been struggling with a direction for a few months, and then we experienced some work that seemed to point a way ahead-particularly ‘Sad Little Man’ by Pub Corner Poets and ‘Men In The Cities’ by Chris Goode. We wanted to make something lyrical, almost like prose-poetry, but also something cathartic, where we could try and crush a few of our own demons along the way.

Why Nick Cave?
Sam: We both love him. I think he’s extraordinary. And his music is equal parts violent and romantic, fevered and beautiful. It had to be someone we both idolized to an extent, for the basis of the show to work.

You’ve performed the play already this year in Norwich and London. How did it go & are you tweaking as you go along?
Sam: Yes we’ve tweaked, mainly in order to make the show say what it’s trying to say better, to be its best self. It’s been hugely educational both times. I’m personally very happy with the five shows we’ve so far done, and I think they will go to strengthen our performance at the Fringe. We’ve ironed out the cracks now, it’s tight and muscular and dynamic and ready for whatever Scotland throws us at us!

Do you & the cast socialize outside rehearsals?
Sam: Yes, excessively. To the point where we have already come up with some rules about not going straight to the pub after every show in Edinburgh.


What do you hope an audience member will take away from the show?
Sam: It might frustrate them, it might confuse them, hopefully it will touch them on some level. It’s very wordy and dense at time but I really think fundamentally it’s got a huge, beating heart at the middle of it. So it would be nice if people see something of themselves in it. So far it’s always been a show people want to talk to us about, have questions about, want to unpick, and for me that’s a huge compliment. You want people nattering about it at the bar afterwards.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Sam: Well, I’d ask them if they’ve ever been in love with the wrong person? Whether they’ve ever treated someone close to them in a way they shouldn’t? Whether they’ve ever been unsure of who they are or what they really stand for in the world? And if I get a reluctant nod to any of those questions you can bet I’m shoving a flyer in their hand!

What will Sam Rees & We Talk of Horses be doing after the Fringe
Sam: Personally, I will be sleeping, eating some greens, earning back a bit more money. We’ve got some possible places we can take this show, but we’ve also got ideas coming out of our ears for the next one, and we’re still so young, so I reckon we’re going to try out as many different things as possible. It’s our time to learn, and fail and get better. And for making more friends along the way!

You Down There & Me Up Here


Greenside Infirmary Street, Ivy Studio,
Aug 3-11 (16:05)