Author Archives: yodamo

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 loose 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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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

Poster_The Wedding Reception

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)


Assembly Roxy
11th July 2018

Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars.png  Performance: four-stars.png  

The dashing, young, talented director that is Robin Osman seems to like World War 2. Last year he brought a Vichy France inspired piece to the Edinburgh Fringe, & the other day, for two nights, he served up Loring Mandel’s very excellent Conspiracy at the Assembly Roxy. His cast mirrored that of the film The Expendables, but here the Hollywood A-Listers are Edinburgh theatrical Don Juans such as Ben Blow, Matthew Jebb, Chris Pearson & Jonathan Whiteside.

Conspiracy is a play about the now infamous meeting at Am Großen Wannsee 56–58, a grandiose villa at the edge of Berlin, lapping against gorgeous lake waters &, in January 1942, the setting for the most terribly implicative ninety minutes of conversation the world has ever known. The Endlosung had come, the Jewish Question had an answer. From ‘Vladivostok to Belfast’ there would be ‘no Jews, not one!’ all murdered by poison gas in efficient factory fashion & cremated into dust. The drama of the piece is contained in small measure within the personalities of the fifteen high-ranking German officials at the meeting, but it really pursues our psyches like a slavering beastie thro’ the monstrous promises of ghastly futurity polluting the play’s dialogue. The author, Loring Mandel, imagined the scene at Wansee & replicated its oral ambience to the best of his abilities; which means, pretty much, its brilliant.

Conspiracy was at first a joint HBO-BBC TV special, which won an Emmy, a Golden Globe & a Bafta, & was created on the back of a single document found in Berlin – the only one that was never destroyed. Of his use of this materielle, Mandel told the Mumble;

The document that survived was very highly redacted, by three different people: first by Eichmann, then by Müller, then by Heydrich himself. So all that it really contains is the cast of characters and the sequence of events, the agenda. But there’s other information—not much, but there are comments that Eichmann made when he was captured and more comments during his trial. That’s really the only hard material we have. So I spent a couple days in the archives of the Holocaust Museum finding out as much as I could about as many of the participants as I could locate in those files. I also looked at the transcripts of the Eichmann testimony. Then I did research at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, the museum in the building where the conference took place, and Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. When I had enough of a feel of the background of the participants, plus what I had gotten from the conference itself, I wrote the first draft, and that was finished in January of ’98. That was submitted to HBO, they said they wanted to proceed with it, and they hired a full-time researcher to provide supplementary material, and she was able to find out a great deal more of the background of the characters than I had been able to get. We ended up with tremendous amounts of research

A few years later, Mandel decided to reconvene his TV classic with the stage. ‘The film is a one-eye process,’ he told us, ‘it’s monocular. Stage is binocular, and it makes a real difference. In film, it’s easy to begin a scene in the middle of a sentence, because you can cut into it. You can’t do that on the stage because the character is there and talking before, unless you do it all with lights, and then it really isn’t an adaptation. The only reason that I did a stage version of it is because I felt it was something that people should be made aware of—young people particularly. I thought it was something that schools could do, and churches and synagogues and so on. That’s why, because I never thought it was a big commercial property. So the fact that it’s been exposed here, I think that’s absolutely wonderful.’

L-R = Jonathan Whiteside (Heydrich), Alastair William Duncan (Heinrich Muller), Ben Blow (Otto Hoffman)

So to Edinburgh & the Assembly Roxy. I took my seat in the far top left corner, directly before the end point of a ‘Last Supper’ style arc of tables, behind which was another table corncucoping with fine wines & meticulously laid out chips n dips. Here was David Taylor’s Eichmann – the guy caught by Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960 –  the shadowy holder of the scythe, who would greet the 14 guests with a foot-stamping ‘Heil Hitler.’ One of these was Matthew Jebb, whose SS Oberfuhrer Erich Neumann sat down right in front of me, rattling on about the Four Year Plan, & somebody who would one day save lives by requesting that Jewish workers in firms essential to the war effort were not to be deported for the time being.

Dead men don’t hump
Dead women don’t get pregnant

So in they came, lieutenants of the Nazi experiment, key representatives of agencies created by the Fuhrer in order to transmit his imbecilic White Supremacist philosophies, & to turn them to reality; the ultimate of which was the rendering ‘Judenrein’ of Europa to unfold. At their heart was Jonathan Whiteside’s Heydrich, play’d with a commanding & sneering hostility – like the Devil at icy Cocytus with his anti-pantheon at his feet, his telligible snarl barking his masters’ orders without complaint. ‘After the war this is my home, a marvelous home,‘ he chirps on first arrival. He’d be assassinated in Prague within six months.

As a drama, we had Heydrich’s & Eichmann’s slow roll-out of the Endlosung – half history lesson, half surreal vision – interspersed with excellently presented buffet intermissions where the hubble-bubble mumblings of twos&threes conversations were broken by flash-fires of actual dialogue. It was all such a bouncy script to behold, a masterwork of multiple voices as the single item on the conference’s agenda slowly ripened into truthdom like rapeseed in the Spring. To counteract the growing ‘storage problem‘ of Nazidom’s Jews – millions had been acquired through Hitler’s conquests – euthanasia would be expanded on a massive scale when, to save the soldier’s sense of honour – they didn’t enjoy shooting women & children – the systematic extirpation of a race would be achieved thro’ poison gas. Eichmann’s mini emotional break-down as he described the sounds of the dying being almost drown’d out by a gas-truck’s motors was a high point in the play.

Such a powerful ideological performance was this, that at the end I was waiting for some cretinous Neo-Nazi to stand up applauding wildly & cheering. Of course it never happened, this is gentile Edinburgh, but we were all transfixed by both the morbid curiosity & the elk-paced intensity of the piece. The finely uniformed gentleman actors were as one soul, a very precise & genuine performance. Conspiracy is a warning of how sick & how sterile human compassion can become, & plays handling such hot potatoes of the conscience should be treasured – not for their hateful ideas – but to remedy Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s observation that, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.



An Interview with Allison Hetzel

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The International Melting Pot that is the Edinburgh August is the pinnacle of cultural diversity, & the Mumble was happy to find out one of America’s finest theatrical minds is once again returning to the Fringe… 

Hello Allison, so where are you from and where are you at, geographically speaking?
Allison: I was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin in the town of Elkhorn. It is near Lake Geneva, which is a popular and beautiful place to visit. I currently live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and have been living here since 2006 when I took a job at the University of Alabama in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Allison: I was in the fourth grade and was cast in a short play as a singing flower–the experience was memorable as I loved to sing and I got to wear fluorescent face paint that would glow in the black light. We also had a performance at local nursing home for the elderly–that was a moving experience for me at a young age.

What is it about performing that you love the most?
Allison: The connections made by revealing the human condition.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Allison: I think that theatre should reflect life and in that reflection, I want to feel something and learn something. If it makes me laugh or cry along the way then it held my attention and I was able to escape from my own realties for a while. That can be so refreshing.

In your time you have performed at ancient theatres in Greece located at Argos and Spetses. Did you feel like you were communing with the spirits of your art?
Allison: Yes, it was such a powerful experience and working in those ancient theatres was breathtaking. I felt a complete sense of being grounded, and the connections we made as a cast in The Trojan Women are something that I will never forget, and that was over twenty years ago.

I think the Fringe is amazing and if I lived closer I think that I would have returned sooner.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Allison: Hmmm, these are always the hardest questions for me. I would start with a light summer salad (spinach, corn, feta, watermelon), followed by seared salmon with a maple-mustard glaze and finish with a Key Lime Pie. My guest list would be: Georgia O’Keeffe, Lillian Hellman, and Joan of Arc.

You’ve performed at the Fringe before, almost a decade ago; how did it go?
Allison: Yes, I performed in 2009 and 2010 and it was a great experience, my show titled: Considering Georgia O’Keeffe, is based on the life and work of the artist. Quite a different show than Step Mama Drama!, my current show is much more personal. I think the Fringe is amazing and if I lived closer I think that I would have returned sooner.


So, you’re bringing your show, STEP MAMA DRAMA!, to this year’s Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Allison: This show is inspired by my personal experience as stepmom and also includes monologues and moments shared by others who I interviewed for the project. My goal is to show various sides of this complex and often difficult relationship. I also spent time talking with stepchildren as well. When I told people about this show, many began to share their own perspectives on blended families. I listened closely and let them know that what they communicated to me could become part of my show.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Allison: If you are a stepmom or have a stepmom, this show is a must-see!

What will you & your play be doing after the Fringe?
Allison: I will head back to the US for the fall semester at the University of Alabama where I teach in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Plans for my show include further development with composer, colleague, and friend Raphe Crystal to add an element of live music with plans to perform it in New York City in 2019. I would also like to develop the show further with an ensemble cast to show even more range and depth as I plan to continue to conduct interviews based on theme of the show.

Step Mama Drama!

Step Mama Drama! 2018 Fringe

The Space on the Mile
Aug 3-4, 6-10 (16:15)

Tickets: £8.00 (£5.00)

An Interview with Alice Sylvester


Has it been only a year since Alice Sylvester wowed Edinburgh with her one-woman play about Sylvia Plath? Time flies, but in that time she has come up with something stirringly new. The Mumble caught her for a wee blether…

Hello Alice, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Alice: I grew up in the South Wales valleys, and I still spend a lot of my time there. But over the past few years, I haven’t settled in a place for too long, (I think I get easily bored). I try to travel as much as I can especially while I’m writing. I did live in Edinburgh for a few months this year and I really loved that.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Alice: I discovered creative writing when I was 7, since then all I’ve wanted to do is write. I discovered my passion for being on stage a little later on when I was a teen. It’s kind of funny, I chose performing arts as a school subject because I thought it would be fun and easy- it turned out to be the thing I’ve worked hardest at in my life so far. During the last year of my degree I learned how to write and perform my own plays, which is becoming a little bit addictive since my two favourite things are writing and acting.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Alice: Whatever it is, I want it to move me. I want it to make me think and feel beyond myself, beyond my every day thoughts and feelings. I don’t need to understand it, I don’t need to agree with it, I don’t even need to like it; a good piece of theatre should stir within you, and you leave you a little changed.

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?
Alice: Mad Men is probably my favourite show, Game of Thrones I can (and have) watched for ten consecutive hours, and then Sex and the City is the show I can annoyingly predict every sentence of.

Can you tell us about The Bathtub Heroine?
Alice: I created The Bathtub Heroine theatre company in 2016, with the intention to produce theatre that has captivating leading female roles. More than that, I’m also passionate to allow emerging female artists to develop their skills behind the stage in all areas of theatre creation and production.

Last year you were in Edinburgh with, “Sylvia Plath, Your Words Are Just Dust.” How did it go?
Alice: I had some experience of the Fringe, I had performed there the previous year. But this was my first original show, I was in control of every aspect of producing a show and although I wasn’t scared, I had no idea what I was doing, or how it would be received. But I couldn’t have asked for a better response. I had great audience attendance even some shows were fully sold out, and I received five star reviews that were beautifully written- it was very encouraging. Since then I’ve had an attitude that if I want something, I’ll just go for it, I’ll give it a shot, life’s much more fun that way.


What have you got for us this year?
Alice: “How to Swim in Hollywood” is inspired by the 2017 Hollywood sexual abuse scandals. I wanted to write a piece that shows how cultural norms regarding beauty standards and gender ideals strongly influence sexual exploitation, and the way we understand it. The play is set in Beverly Hills in 1979, and it follows the character of Daisy, a young housewife of a Hollywood icon. Growing up Daisy never learned how to swim, and the main focus of the play flows between her memories of swimming pools at summer and experiences with men. It becomes clear to the audience that Daisy was entirely unprepared for womanhood; her stories of teenage crushes create a picture of a woman who was thrown into the deep end of a world she doesn’t understand. It is intense at moments; it shows the complex nature of rape and coercion, and the ways in which people can struggle to understand abuse.

Why did you set the play in 1979?
Alice: When I began studying the Harvey Weinstein accusations I was quickly drawn back in time to the 1970s- and I learned about director Roman Polanski’s conviction of raping a 13 year old girl (1977). What horrified me the most was not the crime Polanski had committed, but the way that the cultural perspective of the time meant people didn’t perceive his actions as rape. In the light of recent events, it reminds me that just because evil is public knowledge, does not mean that positive change will occur. I want ‘How to Swim in Hollywood’ to encourage people to consider what aspects of current culture are blurring the perspective of sexual exploitation, and how we can educate children and teens to discover their sexuality in a safe and healthy way.


How did you create the character of Daisy & how much of you is there in her?
Alice: The character of Daisy was my first point of inspiration. I had this character in my head for some time, I knew her personality, she lived in L.A, she was young and married, and had a history of sexual abuse. Then months later the Harvey Weinstein scandals hit the news, and when that happened I began to really connect with the world and story of Daisy. There is a lot of myself in the character of Daisy, perhaps even more than I realise. I think that’s necessary when I create a one-woman show; I’m enticed by characters I can understand, I can relate to them if I share an element of their pain. In comparison to the woman I am today Daisy is very different to me. But she is perhaps a version of a woman I could have become if I didn’t grow tired of allowing negative influences in my life, and if I never began to make womanhood the experience I want it to be.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street….?
Alice: This is a powerful performance, a dark and beautiful show, an important perspective inspired by the recent Hollywood abuse scandals.

Can you tell us about your stagecraft; the music, sound & stage design?
Alice: I would describe the play as dreamy- the main character is alone in her bedroom, overlooking L.A at night, and the only stage set is her vanity table, a symbol for what is at the centre of her existence. She flows from conscious thought to past memories; there is a piece of atmospheric underwater music written for the play and a few of my favourite 70s hits. I wanted everything to be soft, and hypnotic from the physicality to the sound and light design. I like the idea of creating a play that is visually sweet, soft, and delicate but gradually pulls you into its dark undercurrent.

How will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Alice: I will feel relaxed, even when I have performed scenes that were intense and dramatic. I know when a performance is great because it felt natural and organic. I should sink effortlessly into the character and welcome the audience into the world of the play with ease. It’s sort of a seductive feeling, which is a funny thing to say, but yeah, that’s how I would describe it- a good performance feels great; I’m seducing myself and the audience into the fictional world of the play.

Can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Alice: It is a financially devastating, emotionally draining, alcohol fuelled, wild, hilarious, and wonderful adventure.

What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Alice: My next stop will be New York in November, I’m performing ‘Sylvia Plath, Your Words Are Just Dust’ at Theatre Row on 42 Street, as a part of UnitedSolo- the world’s largest solo theatre festival. After that I’ll hopefully spend some time outside of the UK, find a city that excites me and start writing something new.


How to Swim in Hollywood


Greenside, Infirmary Street
Aug 5-11,13-18 (22:00)

Tickets: £10.00, 7.00 (con) BO: 0131 557 2124

An Interview with Mark Down

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There is something quite brilliant about the dramaturgical puppetry of award-winning Blind Summit. The Mumble managed a wee blether with its director-in-chief…

Hello Mark, so when did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Mark: I saw Dad and Mum in the village pantomime when I was about 8 I think. As a teenager school took us to see three Pinter plays at Bath Theatre Royal which I found extraordinary and started reading Pinter as a teenager. I got very into musicals for a while and tried to “see them all”. When I was 18 I went to see Romeo and Juliet at Stratford.

Can you tell us about your studies?
Mark: I trained to be a doctor first. After working for a couple of years as a junior doctor I retrained to do acting. Then I discovered puppetry and that I have mostly made up myself with collaborators.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Mark: It needs to be funny, clever and teach me something. It needs to be about something – i.e. political. And the thing that makes me enjoy it is at least one good performance.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Mark: Oh God that’s a horrible thought – City lights (Chaplin), Casablanca, 310 to Yuma

What does Mark Down like to do when he’s not being creative?
Mark: Play tennis

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Can you tell us about Blind Summit?
Mark: Blind Summit is a multi-award winning London-based, internationally touring producer of puppet-based theatre. For twenty years we’ve have consistently subverted people’s expectations of puppetry: from giant storybook characters in the opening ceremony of London’s 2012 Olympic Games to The Table, a globally successful touring production that completely up-ended audiences’ understanding of how puppet and puppeteer communicate.

How did you get involved & what is your role in the company?
Mark: I am the Artistic Director of the company, which I founded in 1997.

What are the processes behind designing each puppet’s aesthetic?
Mark: We work in two ways. With a text we look for an aesthetic that will illuminate some aspect of the text, usually a formal allusion. Puppets tend to bring attention to the metaphorical aspects of the text. We also make work that starts with the puppet we want to play with and write the text from there. i.e. the other way round. That can get very difficult. That’s how we are making Henry.

After 20 years of being with Blind Summit, how has your own take on puppet theatre evolved?
Mark: I am less preoccupied with comedy and existentialism and more engaged by story.

Can you tell us about the Opening Ceremony to the London Olympics?
Mark: It involved putting a huge amount of time and effort into a very little amount of time. It was extremely exhilarating being on the stage on the night. Danny Boyle and the Designer Mark Tildesley were really inspirational to work for. Putting together a team of 20 puppeteers and 35 volunteers was amazing and we made good friends.

Can you sum up the Fringe experience in a single sentence?
Mark: Fast paced and invigorating.


This year you will be bringing ‘Henry’ to the Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Mark: It’s a one man, three man show with puppetry called “Henry”. It’s narrated by puppeteer, director and “control freak” Mark Down who explores the mystical power of puppetry, assisted by two, slightly sinister, masked puppeteers. Things get out of control when the spirit of “Henry” enters the puppet. Who is “Henry”? What does he want? And is he dangerous? At least I think that’s what it’s about – we’re still making it!

For those who have seen past creations, such as Citizen Puppet (2015) or The Table (2011), are we to expect something similar or not?
Mark: Expect the unexpected. If The Table was the life of a puppet – Henry is about the life of a puppeteer.

If you’re flyering in the Edinburgh streets, what would you say in twenty seconds to convince someone to see Henry?
Mark: Anything might happen, come and see!

What will Mark Down & Blind Summit be doing after the Fringe?
Mark: Sleeping! And thinking about making the next Blind Summit show.


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Pleasance King Dome
Aug 11th–26th (15:30)