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Up & coming company From the Gut have brought an emotional, fun-packed play to the Fringe…
Hello Nick, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Nick: Hi Mumble! I grew up in Warwickshire, in the countryside, then moved down to London when I went to LAMDA. I’ve lived in Bermondsey, SE16 since 2015 and it really feels like home. I love it, the River, the community, the pubs, the parks. It’s a wonderful place.
When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Nick: Daisy Herringshaw was a family friend who was 90 when I was born. I used to sit for hours as she used to tell me stories of “treading the boards” in rep theatre. From there I was hooked.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Nick: Something that makes you feel; if I’ve got shivers running down spine, laughing until I cry or left thinking about the play for days I’ve seen a good piece of theatre.
Can you tell us about From the Gut?
Nick: From the Gut was formed by three of us after we graduated LAMDA. We loved the community at Drama School and wanted to recreate that in a professional environment, that’s why we work with actors who we know well. From the Gut is a family.
You have brought a play to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about it?
Nick: It feels amazing. Last year me and Sam Angell, the other writer, came up to the Fringe for over a week and had the best time seeing the most inspiring theatre. We decided then and there that we had to create a show and bring it up in 2018. We put what we love most about the Fringe into Istanbul: You’ll Never Walk Alone; the energy, the heart and the music. The play is about the legendary 2005 Champions League Final between Liverpool and AC Milan and how the game changed the City of Liverpool. It’s told through the eyes of three groups of fans, the night of the game.
How is it going so far?
Nick: It’s going really well, we’re having the best time up at the Fringe. This is our debut show as a company and we’re learning a lot. I think the Fringe is unique place for that. The show’s been well received by audiences, people have been coming up to us afterwards and saying some really wonderful things. Hopefully the last few days (our run finishes on the 18th) we can really pack out the theatre!
What materials did you use during the research period?
Nick: I’m a huge Liverpool fan so for me it was about finding the things that had inspired me over my years of support. Building the emotional connection I feel for the City and Club into the play for both the cast and audience to feel. I hope the cast are all lifelong Reds now!
How is director Max Harrison handling everything?
Nick: Max is a wonderful director. Me and Sam trained with him at LAMDA and subsequently he’s been going from strength to strength. Most recently working with Phillip Ridley on his play Moonfleece at The Pleasance. Istanbul is a multi-roled multifaceted play, with lots of different styles of performance. Max is the perfect director to link all of those together, while working with the actors to draw out nuanced performances for each of their different characters.
The attachment between football & community is particularly strong in Liverpool, any idea why?
Nick: Liverpool is a global footballing super power and the support of both Everton and Liverpool often borders on religious. In recent history it’d be remiss of me to not mention Hillsborough. The tragedy in 1989 bonded the people of Liverpool to the team. Kenny Dalglish (the Liverpool manager at the time) attended each of the funerals for the 96, the city really came together. Afterward the club and fans and families had to fight or two decades to overcome the tragedy and being justice back to the city. The 2005 Champions League Final was the first big win for the club since 1990.
What is the opinion of Rafa Benetiz among Liverpool fans in 2018?
Nick: Most of us love him. He gave us one of the greatest nights of our lives. He got us to dream again, and he got us. His family still lives in Liverpool, his daughters are Scouse. I can’t find enough positives to say about the man. He was always there for the Hillsborough Memorial, even when he was no longer our manager. Istanbul: You’ll Never Walk Alone is, in a way, a play about Benetiz.
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the street…?
Nick: We are one of Lyn Gardner’s Picks of the Fringe. It’s a raucous 50 minute play that’ll leave you pumped and inspired. Even if you hate football you’ll still love Istanbul. We also have a banging soundtrack.
August 3-14, 16-18 (19.45)
It seems that more and more often, Hollywood is looking to theatre stages for inspiration. Mamma Mia just returned to the screen with its “Here We Go Again” sequel, and did so to the tune of largely positive reviews. And in the next few years there’s talk of adaptations for the likes of Cats, In The Heights, West Side Story, and Wicked – not to mention new reboots of Disney films-turned-Broadway shows like Aladdin and The Lion King.
What we see a little bit less of these days is adaptation going the other way – from screen to stage. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but the reverse seems to be more common for the moment. We’re likely to get an exception in the next year or two though, as the original musical movie La La Land appears destined to appear on stages in London, New York, and, if those go well, around the world.
To refresh your memory, La La Land came out late in 2016 and immediately became the darling of Hollywood. Directed by the young and incredibly gifted Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, it chronicled the lives of two young adults in Los Angeles chasing different dreams in the arts. Widely expected to steal the show at the Oscars because of its celebration of Hollywood and the sheer joy it seemed to evoke in audiences, it actually wound up being upset by Moonlight for the Best Picture honor. Even so however it proved that a completely original modern musical could take the cinematic world by storm.
The film’s nearly universal appeal seemed to come from its purest aspect, which is to say the songs. Even an LA Times piece that was harshly critical of the movie’s message about young musicians in 2017 stated that few movies as “dumb” about music as this one are also as alive to its emotional potential. The article’s point was that the film’s message contrasting sellouts with genuine artists was somewhat childish or outdated – but that when the movie boiled down to its original numbers, it shined nonetheless. This sort of critique wasn’t unheard of, but it did represent the minority opinion. Even so however it demonstrated exactly how this show could work on Broadway.
A stage version of La La Land would almost certainly be stripped down a little bit in terms of plot and dialogue, and would emphasize the music that people will remember from the film. It’s even been suggested that new numbers will be added, which should provide some depth for a score that, if it can be criticized for anything, might be a little too repetitive. The formula of highlighting songs above story, and adding more music to the project, actually sounds like a winning concept for the eventual stage musical.
We haven’t heard much in the way of specifics about when this is coming or where it will debut. But a La La Land stage production has more or less been confirmed, and this is a reminder that it’s almost certainly coming in the near future.
Principal Edinburgh George Street
August 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27
This morning I took a walk around Yester Woods near Gifford with my wee dog Daisy, deliberating on the marking for Interactive Theater’s newborn baby, Pamela’s Palace. Was I really going to give a vernal work-in-progress five stars? Was that really the right thing to do? Then I remembered something important. I had taken my wife to the show, & as we were leaving, I was practically begging her to tell the girls at her work to organise a Fringe posse & all go out together to see Pamela’s Palace. In that moment I was vicariously experiencing the Mumble’s 5-star litmus test – if one feels compelled like the Ancient Mariner to tell everybody you know (or the wife knows) to see a show, then its the definitive 5 Stars.
Meeting upstairs in the pleasure-to-be-at Principle Hotel, some of the audience are befrocked in pink smocks as we are led down to a traverse style setting of chairs, with the salon spread out quite jazzily between us. This was only the sixth ever show – a 3 night run in Brighton, & three so far in Edinburgh – but God did create the world in six days! Apparently there have been changes made after every edition, which indicates a serious sense of professionalism in an extremely unserious setting. Welcome to Scissors Palace, ran by the deep-tann’d, bling-jangling, Vogue wannabe Pamela Jones (Donna Gray). Its Salon Of the Year awards time, & she’s pulling out all the stops with an ubersassy Classical Greece theme.
Also working at the Salon are Tiffany (Katie Grace Cooper) & Bronwen (Ayesha Tansey), one gregarious, one demure; both top actresses & all together the complete trio, when not pulling off proper bangin’ Beyonce-level dance routines, positively bounce off each other & the classy script & roleplays created by the funny-bone knocking Katie Grace Cooper.
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!
Read the full interview…
Interactive Theatre International are the guys behind the ever-brilliant Fawlty Towers & the Wedding Reception. The one drawback is that with those shows being food-inclusive, a few folk are priced out of the superslick comedy acting of the ITI contingent. On the other hand, Pamela’s Palace is a much more doable £15 – there’s a glass of bubbly & some nibbles thrown in too – which is a price well worth paying to see the same actresses in action who pull off so well the ladies in the Wedding Reception, & Sibyl in Fawlty Towers. Indeed, Pamela is quite simply the Sibyl of this millennium, & lets hope the dangerous drama that is her Palace runs & runs like the others. As for this Fringe, the volcano has only just exploded, & the lava has not yet set. One expects as the ladies find their feet & the full measure of their personal & audience interactions, the show will just get better & smoother &… well… I’ve just seen it & its wonderful stuff!
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.
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.
The Loft, The Counting House
Aug 2-17th (13.30)
The combination of Steve’s genuine quality & a cleverly thought-out, gag-punctuated, innuendo-pregnant script brings dividends – Mumble Theatre
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?
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.
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!
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).
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.
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!
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.
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
Birnam Institute, Dunkeld
10th May 2018
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
There’s a story about a farmer who meets a traveller on the road and the traveller asks what the people in the next village are like. The farmer asks how the traveller found the people in the last village he came through. “Oh! They were a rough lot. They were mean and ignorant!” replies the traveller. “Well,” says the farmer, “the people in the next village are even worse!” A little later the farmer meets a traveller coming in the opposite direction to the first. This traveller asks the same of the farmer as the first (this being a folk tale) and the farmer asks the same question as before. “They were the kindest of people” answers the second traveller. “I am only sorry I could not have stayed there a little longer.” The farmer grins, “Well I think you’ll find the people in the next village to be even better than that.” Farmers often embody a wisdom that would seem to be at odds with the ‘fashionable’ ways of the urban world. They literally are a source for playwright Kieran Hurley’s most recent work ‘Six Inches of Topsoil and the Fact it Rains’.
Last Spring, Hurley and Perth Theatre’s artistic director Lu Kemp went round Perthshire interviewing rural people, asking them how living on the land in the present-day compared with how it was twenty years ago. They asked what their hopes and fears for the future were, living as we all are in a time of great political, social and environmental change. The responses were distilled into this entertaining and thought-provoking little one act performance played by Melody Grove and Aly Macrae. In a recent interview with the Mumble, Hurley gave his own take on the research process;
The idea for the show started with Lu wanting to make a piece for and about rural Perthshire. The idea of doing a verbatim play came about because we’d worked together on another verbatim piece, still in development, for a theatre down south and we’d both gotten a lot out of it. Verbatim theatre basically just means a play based on real life materials, usually interviews. So we made this piece about the farming industry, basically by driving around rural Perthshire, following leads and speaking to people. Farmers, mostly. But also food campaigners, journalists, seasonal workers, storytellers… It might sound quite narrow, talking about farming but the amazing thing is becomes a jumping off point for such a broad range of issues. Talking about the food industry means talking about climate change, about Brexit, about how we use and share this land that we all have to live off, how we produce enough food for us all to be able to eat. Really big, fundamental stuff. And because it’s a verbatim play it’s full of this distinctive voices and witty and unique perspectives.
The Birnam Arts Centre was packed out on Thursday night to see Grove and Macrae. The audience sang along to familiar songs and music and possibly recognised some of the local characters Macrae and Grove so artfully brought to life in this wonderfully intimate venue. There was a real sense of a community celebrating itself throughout the performance, hearing itself talking to itself about what, to it, is important.
Macrae and Grove presented a host of voices, explaining what they love about farming, how Brexit will affect their ways of living and what their fears are for how farming will have to change in order to respond to climate change, migration and overcrowding. This was interweaved with songs and music, all performed by the duo. Some of the voices give contradictory opinions and present opposing views of the challenges of the future, and one would expect that from a vox pop style of production. But through the multitude of opinions and stories there was a sense that, thankfully, farmers take the long view. Things will have to change. Our politicians and landowners may have some sleepless nights and difficult choices ahead as we pull out of the EU and have to think about how land gets used to feed a population instead of being used by a privileged few for huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’. However, the relationship to time and to the land would seem to some of those things that remain steady through these changes. “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow” says one of Macrae’s characters, “but farm for a hundred years.”
‘Six Inches of Topsoil’ is travelling round Perthshire venues at the moment. If it is near you and you want an evening that will make you laugh, smile and also think a bit about some serious questions, then make sure you see it.
Review: Mark Mackenzie
Photography: Fraser Band
LEITHEATRE are bringing their production of Harold Pinter’s ever effervescent THE HOMECOMING to Edinburgh this week. The Mumble managed a wee blether with the lady who plays Ruth…
Hello Lindsay, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Lindsay: I was born and raised in Belfast, then moved to Edinburgh to study drama at University and just never left.
Treading the boards, as they say, is not your day job, can you tell us what is?
Lindsay: I’m Marketing and Communications Manager for TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) which is based at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. TRACS brings together networks of artists and cultural organisations in collaboration, to showcase and improve the knowledge and practice of Scotland’s traditional art forms. I am lucky to work in a beautiful venue which is welcoming and inclusive, with a wonderful variety of events showcased year-round, plus TRACS presents regional opportunities to engage with traditional culture, live.
Have you found your Celtic roots in Ireland have helped you to slot into the Scottish cultural scene?
Lindsay: Well, my maternal grandparents were Scottish, so a lot of the culture was immediately familiar to me. I was lucky enough to be raised with two siblings amongst a large family unit, with memories of everyone taking a turn on the hearth with a story, tune or dance at weekly gatherings at granny’s, so traditional folklore, music and dance has always fascinated and intrigued me. There’s a shared and intangible heritage between Scotland and Ireland, which is probably why the move across the water was an easy transition.
How do you find living in Edinburgh?
Lindsay: What is there not to love about this city! I could be negative and go on about Tramgate, student housing overload, lack of decent music venues, a Starbucks on Leith Walk and endless road works/closures, but that all pales in comparison to the culture available on your doorstep. I love the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern that makes up Edinburgh’s landscape, the shadow of Arthur’s Seat and the countless pockets of green spaces still available to soak up some nature. You could literally fill every day of the year with a cultural event or activity and that still only scratches the surface of what’s available.
Can you tell us about Leitheatre?
Lindsay: Leitheatre is an amateur theatre group based in Edinburgh, just off Easter Road, that was founded in 1946. They usually produce three full-length productions each year, performing at The Studio and Church Hill Theatre, plus a show during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at St. Serfs. They also take part in the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA) One Act Play Festival, with a consistently good record for places and wins in the competition. It’s a wonderful company to be involved with, plus the talent and enthusiasm amongst the members, in all areas of theatre involvement, is infectious.
Do you & the cast socialise outwith rehearsals?
Lindsay: If we aren’t too shattered! It’s a great way to unwind, get comfortable in each other’s company and discuss details of the show that there isn’t time for in the rehearsal room.
You are about to play Ruth in The Homecoming by Harold Pinter. Why this play?
Lindsay: It’s the director Lynne Morris’ favourite play and she’s wanted to stage it for ages. I am a fan of Harold Pinter’s work too, so knew I wanted to audition, and Ruth is an enigmatic character who intrigues me, so the opportunity and challenge of bringing her to life appealed.
That agelessness translates because Pinter never moralises or resolves situations, you’ll leave with questions buzzing in your head about the characters, their past and their future
Its been 41 years since The Homecoming won the Tony Award for Best Play on Broadway in 1967. How well has the play aged, especially the themes around the violence and exploitation of women?
Lindsay: I think in a lot of ways Pinter’s work is timeless because he’s a master of studying human interaction through the mundane. He is remembered as an outspoken social commentator, renowned for his witty put-downs, both in his real life and writing. Plus, it was nominated for a Tony for Best Broadway Revival too, showing its subject matter still resonates. That agelessness translates because Pinter never moralises or resolves situations, you’ll leave with questions buzzing in your head about the characters, their past and their future. In regards the views of exploitation and violence, that’s one interpretation but there’s many more scenarios possible in the reading and viewing of the piece. Pinter probes enough to make a conclusion of sexist and degrading or feminist and empowering both valid, the desire being to engage the psyche and start conversations. If anyone thought it inappropriate, I would argue that recent events make The Homecoming even more relevant for a contemporary audience to acknowledge issues of sexuality, exploitation and power. Plus look up Pinter’s own thoughts on the matter.
How will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Lindsay: Well Ruth is a brilliant character to step into and forget being me! The rest of the cast are wonderfully talented, making it easy to play off them and get lost in the action as it’s happening. We’ve had a few rehearsals, with Leitheatre members observing, when everything “clicked” and you can feel the change in atmosphere, so when I sense that tingle, I’ll know the audience are enjoying this fascinating sixtet of characters with very real and often darkly comic traits.
What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Lindsay Corr & Leitheatre?
Lindsay: Leitheatre are straight back into the rehearsal room to prepare this year’s Fringe show, The Steamie by Tony Roper. This affectionately loved and hilarious comedy will be brilliant and the cast are brilliant. I am looking forward to being involved in the chorus for the show. Apart from that, it will be the day job for me, enjoying some concerts and festival events over the summer and making some time to visit my four adorable nieces.
Edinburgh’s Festival Studio Theatre
Wed 16 – Sat 19 May
Tickets £12 (£10) from Festival Theatre Box Office: 0131 529 6000
A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
It’s taps aff in Glasgow’s Oran Mor. Not the ritual removal of shirts, T or otherwise, due to the arrival of the long overdue good weather but because the bath is full and Annie’s for a soak. She doesn’t like a smelly soak, involving exotic lotions, potions and bath bombs gifted by family and friends (are they trying to tell her something), though she does enjoy a long immersion, with nobody banging at the door asking her to hurry up, as they are needing in.
A solitary woman, her idea of bliss is to leave the splendid isolation of her nice wee terrace, visit the library, come home and spend an hour in the tub with Radio 4 playing on the wireless. It’s a great place to reminisce, remember past exploits, like using her concession card to travel to the East Neuk of Fife, swim the chilly waters along the shore at Crail and lose her clothes. There are other, more philosophical matters to consider, such as her relationship with god and where exactly, she would like to be buried at sea. Her only worry, for the moment, is not to bathe too long in case she suffers pernicious pruning…
Steven Dick has written a splendid play about a woman who has reached a stage in life where isolation is, the not unpleasant, norm. Yet as we hear her expansive thoughts on the state of skin, from exfoliation to rigor mortis, we realise she has tremendous resources of wit and wisdom that really should be shared.Janette Foggo portrays Annie as a woman we all recognise, strong, independent, capable of taking life’s vicissitudes on the chin and getting on with things. The actress mixes stand-up type zingers to the audience with lengthy, humorous, existential monologues and ends her performance by displaying, for our entertainment and enlightenment, an impressive piece of recollection, worthy of the nerdiest schoolboy (or girl). A slam-dunk success.
David G Moffat
Haddington Corn Exchange
3rd May, 2018
The Catherine Wheels Theatre Company & The National Theatre of Scotland have teamed up to bring us an entertaining & innovative play by Anita Vettesse. The Mumble sent in two of our youngest reviewers to see what all the fuss was about…
Eddie and the Slumber Sisters from the start was a charming production. As soon as you walk in, The Slumber Sisters greet you in character, and when everyone is being seated they realise that they themselves are a part of the set, as the slumber sisters put on their show by traveling around the stage and portraying the distinctive characters.
The seating arrangements were very unusual, with an assortment of chairs, stools, armchairs and a bed. Some were lucky and were seated in an armchair, bed, or a plain old chair. However, the others and myself were seated on the less desirable stools; yet this is my only complaint as the acting was on point.
The crew was a key component to the production as there were crucial cues that tied the show together. One of my favourite parts was the slow-motion affect they created with a clever use of lighting. The performers managed to incorporate singing into the piece, yet I would not say it was a musical, which is rare.
As to the acting… absolutely fabulous. They all sell the characters extremely well and sang beautifully throughout. This was a brief summary of my opinions, but I will now pass you over to my 8-year-old sister, Roxana for her thoughts:
I for one enjoyed the singing and the setting was excellent. And the pilot was great. So good. I was a little disappointed with the timing, and felt there should have been a break in between the show. I agree with Ivy that the acting was amazing. My favourite character was Robin.
Reviewed by Ivy & Roxy Oakman
Eddie & the Slumber Sisters is currently touring Scotland, with tickets still available for the following dates only
12 May: Raasay Community Hall, Raasay
14 May: Macphail Centre, Ullapool
18 May: Mareel Theatre, Lerwick
23 May: Clarkston Hall, Clarkston
27 May: Castle Douglas Town Hall, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival
30 May – 3 June: Edinburgh International Children’s Festival