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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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Six Inches of Topsoil, and the Fact it Rains

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Birnam Institute, Dunkeld
10th May 2018

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

Melody Grove (2).jpegThere’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;

Kieran-HurleyThe 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


An Interview with Lindsay Corr

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



Hot Water


A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
7th-12th May

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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.

IMG_7655i.jpgA 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


Eddie and the Slumber Sisters


Haddington Corn Exchange
3rd May, 2018

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

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



An Interview with Robin Cairns

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A new play by Robin Cairns, The Life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is coming to Glasgow. The Mumble caught a wee blether with its creator.

Hello Robin, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I’m fae Clydebank, I live at Shawlands. I spent my days in Govan.

You ran your immensely popular poetry event in Glasgow – Last Monday at Rio – for ten years. There’s been a sea-change recently. Can you tell us what transpired & why?
The Last Monday at Rio poetry night put more than 1000 voices on the stage over ten years. From total beginners to established names. Almost to a decade after we began though the bar was sold to people who felt they could do without 50 odd paying customers in their place on a Monday night. By chance I was asked around the same time to run events in Waterstones on Sauchiehall Street. So we now do Last Monday at Waterstones every month, with up to twenty open mikers and a headline poet doing a full set.

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You are quite a stalwart of the Glasgow artistic scene. Can you tell us about it & how it compares to the rest of Britain?
Glasgow’s arts scene is more grounded than most other cities in Britain. We have people doing literature, art and music who have not necessarily emerged from the university blanding process and maybe have a more immediate sense of life’s precarious vertigo.

You’ve been washed up on a desert island with a solar-powered DVD player & three films. Which would they be?
Three films would be “Under Milk Wood”, “Pinnochio” and “The Warriors”

I know you more as a poet, but the theatre has always been a great passion of yours. Can you tell us about Stage Dialogue, for example?
I drifted into theatre around 1980 after answering an ad in a cafe looking for actors. A couple of years on I started writing and producing shows, in Glasgow, Edinburgh Fringe but mostly London. We had some success with shows such as “John Dillinger, From Sepia to Cinema” (with real machine guns) and a staging of the dram when Orson Welles panicked America with his broadcast of “The War Of The Worlds”. Stage Dialogue was the name of our company, a mix of rather brilliant actors and the pushy, punky, young version of me, telling stories in fractured narratives, always wanting shows to be lively and powerful. I had a loyal bunch who tolerated my idiosyncracies – can’t think why!

You are a classic creative polymath; but today we shall be concentrating on a forthcoming play of yours. So, what for you would make a good piece of theatre?
Good piece of theatre has to tell me plenty I don’t already know, so with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh play I read a shelf on the subject, visited almost all the sites, then read the shelf again. Theatre’s got to be gripping, funny, inspiring, tragic, it’s an entertainment and as a writer you must never, ever preach to your punters.

CRM Poster Govanhill Baths.jpgCan you tell us the back story behind the creation of your new play, The Life of Charles Mackintosh?
I’ve been interested in Mackintosh since I visited The Hillhouse in Helensburgh one teenage day when I had nothing else to do. I read and investigated over the years. People knew I had a fair knowledge of the subject so, when an experienced tour guide wanted to retire from showing bus parties of posh people round the Mackintosh sites he asked me to take over. The research for this galvanised me to write the play. And I wanted to concentrate on Mackintosh’s mentor/enemy – John Keppie. I feel that it is in delving into their relationship that I have added something to the diligent work of all the other authors on the subject.

The venue you have chosen for the performance is interesting. Can you tell us more?

Govanhill Baths is a fine small theatre space – in a building which is a hotbed of knitting, swimming, radicalism and community rescue.

What do you think your audience will feel when they are watching your new play?
I believe my audience will feel fulfilled by a grand scale telling of Charles’ life, but the ending is very sad and there’s no getting away from that. Like all tragedies though you know that the bad thing is coming, it’s just a question of how you hint at it and let the knowledge build.

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What does Robin Cairns like to do when he’s not being creative?
I like kayaking. I’ve got a red one and can be spotted at Loch Lomond, Lochwinnoch, The Clyde, The Sea. I wear a hat, usually a homburg.

Will you be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?
I’m doing a full run of 22 shows at The Fringe this summer. “The Weegies Have Stolen The One O-Clock Gun” – the tale of a posh bloke called Morningside Malcolm whose lovely daughter has married into a family of Glasgow gangsters. I’m at The Outhouse at 6pm each night, Broughton Street Lane. Tickets from The Fringe Office – £7.

You can catch The Life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh at Govanhill Baths, Glasgow
Saturday 12th May @ 7.30pm

An Interview with Lu Kemp & Kieran Hurley


Perth Theatre’s artistic director Lu Kemp and playwright Kieran Hurley have created A Six Inch Layer of Topsoil and The Fact it Rains, a lively piece of ceilidh theatre based on conversations with Perthshire land dwellers and owners. It will be starting its rural tour in a few days, & The Mumble was lucky enough to catch a wee blether with Lu & Keiran

Hello Kieran, so what for you makes a good piece of theatre?

KIERAN: Wowzers, I dunno, I feel if I could answer that in one neat answer in a piece of preview press there wouldn’t be much mileage in the artform and I probably wouldn’t be giving my life to it. Theatre’s an incredibly varied thing. I’d say in general I like work that genuinely tries to speak to people, work that values its audience. I don’t like theatre is self-important or self-involved. Theatre’s real advantage over other forms is it’s liveness, and I like to see shows that make a virtue of that – the fact that we’re all here together in the same room.

Hello Lu, so when did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
LU: By accident largely, but I was interested enough in them to find work at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, as one of my three student jobs. I worked on box office with a young bloke – now the playwright Robert Alan Evans – and to kill time we started sending bits of writing back and forward between us. And then we decided to make a play together, which was a terrible idea and complete hell, but somehow it did well and we ended up taking it to the National Student Drama Festival, and then someone offered me a job, and I didn’t have a better offer at the time, and so it goes on!


Keiran, are a relative newcomer to the Scottish theatre scene, but have arrived with a bang. How did you find the success of your Fringe First-winning HEADS UP, played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016 and 2017, which also won the Best New Play at the Critics’ Awards 2017 for Theatre in Scotland?
KIERAN: Am I newcomer? Cool. I feel I learn something new about myself every time I answer one of these things. I’ve been doing this professionally for about ten years now, and was just beginning to feel like I couldn’t trade on “newness” any more so I suppose it’s nice to have faith in my relative newness restored. Heads Up was a great experience, though a bit of a whirlwind. We made the show very quickly, and on very little resources. At the time a lot of my work was tied up in commissions or screen work and I really wanted to re-capture the sort of DIY spirit of some of my earlier work and make something that would immediately meet its audience. So we got together the bare minimum of what we needed and just did it, We called it “three chord punk” which was really just a fancy way of saying we’ve got no cash, and to be honest when we opened I had no idea how it was going to be received. I was delighted with the audience and critical response, of course.

You’ve also toured HEADS UP a couple of times, how do you find the experience?
KIERAN: I love touring because I love the chance to take the work to people. As a writer or theatre-maker you really just want the work to be seen widely. When you’re performing you’re own work it can be tricky though. I love performing, but unlike other shows Heads Up toured with just me on the road and that can be a bit of a slog. And I’ve got a family now and that limits how long I can take it out for. So it was very different from any other tour I’ve done in that sense, but no less valuable.

What does Lu Kemp like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
LU: Cycle around.


Lu, you are just about to launch your creation with playwright Kieran Hurley, A Six Inch Layer of Topsoil and The Fact it Rains, can you tell us about the play?
LU: We wanted to make a piece that felt relevant to Perthshire now. Last year, before the theatre opened, we drove around Perthshire meeting lots of people and talking to them about what’s changed in Perthshire over the past 20 years and how they feel about Brexit and what they think is going to happen next. Kieran and I had worked on a similar project about the state of education for the Royal Shakespeare Company the year before. We thought it would be dry as a biscuit and were really surprised by how bloody and funny it was.


Can you tell us something of the research process behind A Six Inch Layer of Topsoil and The Fact it Rains?
KIERAN: 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.

Could you describe your working relationship with Lu in one word?

Could you describe your working relationship with Kieran in one word?
LU: Good.

Have you grown as a person after the experience of meeting with & talking to so many members of the agricultural community?
LU: I’ve certainly learnt a lot. And it’s made me think about things in a way I didn’t have reason to before. Mostly about milk. I’ve thought a lot about milk recently.

You have quite an interesting itinerary coming up; Perth, Aberfeldy, Birnam, Crieff, Blair Atholl, Alyth , Blairgowrie & Kinross Who is the brains behind the tour, & will they be managing the affair?
LU: We want to be touring in Perthshire as a theatre. Perth Theatre isn’t, and shouldn’t be, just about the venue in the centre of Perth. And we had a ball last year going to all the different venues with And Then Come The Nightjars by Bea Roberts (also about farming). People behave differently in their local venue to the way they do if they come to a theatre, it feels like a community night out.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?
KIERAN: It’ll be a really good night out. It’s going to be full of thought-provoking stuff that’ll sure to leave you with lots to discuss and think about afterwards, and all entirely relevant to rural Perthshire. But more than that, it’ll be a braw evening’s entertainment. We’ve two of the finest performers in the country in Melody Grove and Aly Macrae, both incredible musicians as well as being beautiful actors. Spending an hour or so in their company in this intimate setting will be a joy for any audience.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?
LU: I hope it will entertain them, and that there are enough contradictory ideas in the piece that it will make people go to the pub and debate over a drink! Hopefully they’ll go home humming the tunes as well.

These rural tours are a great theatrical asset to this part of Scotland. How well do you think they are received?
KIERAN: Every time I’ve toured rurally in Scotland before it’s just been a joy and a privilege, and I wish I had the opportunity to do it more. The last time I did a proper rural tour was with a show called Rantin for the National Theatre of Scotland in 2014. We went all over the place, and audiences were just so appreciative and warm. It’s long been a part of the fabric of Scottish theatre, rural touring, and really needs people committed to making it happen if it’s going to continue to survive and thrive – which is one of the reasons it’s so brilliant that Lu has committed to touring rurally in Perthshire with Perth Theatre.

What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Lu Kemp?
LU: Sleep. I hope.

For tickets and info for A Six Inch Layer of Topsoil and The Fact it Rains in Perth Theatre visit or call Box Office on 01738 621031. Tickets are also available from the venues.

Wed 9 May: 7.30pm
Aberfeldy Town Hall

Thu 10 May: 7.30pm
Birnam Arts Centre

Fri 11 May: 7.30pm
Strathearn Artspace, Crieff

Wed 16 May: 7.30pm
Blair Atholl Village Hall

Thu 17 May: 7.30pm
Alyth Town Hall

Fri 18 May: 7.30pm
Blairgowrie Town Hall

Sat 19 May: 7.30pm
Loch Leven Community Campus, Kinross

Where’s Lulu

IMG_7622i Sarah McCardie, Stephanie McGregor, Romana Abercrombie.jpg

A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
30th May-5th April

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For people of a certain age it’s hard to forget Britain’s early entries to the Eurovision Song Contest (‘Sing Little Birdie’ by Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson, from 1959, anyone?) but we should try. The nascent competition favoured a particular type of perky, bouncy melody with simplistic lyrics and not a lot had changed by 1969, when a troubled Lulu faces singing ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ in Franco’s Spain. Has her voice gone or is it all IMG_7587i Stephanie McGregor Sarah, McCardie,Romana Abercrombie.jpgpsychosomatic?

Danny McCahon’s play is set in the singer’s dressing room before she takes to the stage to represent her country. Lulu (Stephanie McGregor) has concerns that go beyond pleasing the audience; she has seen the future of music and it is not MOR. This isn’t what her manager, Marion (Romana Abercromby) wants to hear. She’s more interested in pleasing the BBC and getting future TV shows commissioned. Lulu’s mother Betty (Sarah McCardie) reminds her daughter she’s been performing and charming people since she was four years old and tonight will be no different. Certainly the marshmallow pink dress that Lulu is compelled to wear, looks like it was designed for a four year old but she is assured it will look splendid on the relatively novel, coloured broadcast.

IMG_7609i Stephanie McGregor.jpgMcGregor’s Lulu bears a remarkable resemblance to the pop star, visually and vocally. The fluttering spider eyelashes, the head tilts and hand gestures are all spot on. When she speaks, the slide from the extended vowels of her adopted English to the guttural consonants of her native Glasgow, are delightfully half and hawf.  McCardie’s Betty has a brash confidence and belief in her daughter that is tinged with just a hint of envy that Marie (as she calls Lulu) got out, and got on. Is her green dress trying to tell us something? Abercromby’s Marion is elegant in patterned culottes, with a beehive that’s a testament to the power of hairspray. Her well spoken tones are a template for Lulu’s acquired, Received Pronunciation.

Complex issues of identity, ambition and coming of age are thoughtfully addressed in this play about a young woman seeking to find her own way in the music business. McGregor’s performance of ‘Boom Bang A Bang’ is something to shout about.

David G Moffat


The Persians

IMG_7545i Liam Brennan, Megan  Tyler, Irene Allan.jpg

A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
23rd-28th April

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What have the Persians ever done for us?

Well they developed the first modern economy, including the introduction of paper money, instigated the first postal service and invented algebra. But surely all these achievements fade into insignificance, when measured against their contribution to problem solving major decisions. Those determining the outcome had to agree when they were drunk and still agree later, when hung over.

IMG_7552i Meghan Tyler, Liam  Brennan, Irene Allan.jpgIn Tory Ian Wellesley’s Westminster office there’s only Earl Grey, muffins and a political hot potato on offer, when fellow parliamentarians, Kirstin Thompson and Mary Rodgers, join him to discuss a petition in favour of the reintroduction of capital punishment. Agreement proves impossible and in an effort to calm the growing turbulence, Ian breaks out the fortified wine, well any port in a storm. Soon the women are shoes-off drunk and dancing to tunes from the office laptop while Ian struts his stuff to the strains of ‘Macho Man’. Wheels oiled, the ideas on how to handle the tricky petition start to flow fast and thick. There may even be time to sort out Mary’s Northern Ireland too! In vino veritas for sure; what could possibly go wrong?

IMG_7546i Liam Brennan, Irene Allan, Meghan Tyler (1)

The author of the drama, Meghan Tyler, plays Mary, a fiery young DUP member dressed in a crisp white blouse and royal blue trousers that wouldn’t be out of place behind an Ulster, Lambeg drum. Her language is as strong as her fundamentalist belief that ‘Dinosaurs are lies’. Liam Brennan’s Ian is a grey suited Conservative, very much the professional politician, all for consensus – if it makes problems melt away. His voice has the resounding, practised tones and rhythms of chamber debate, in contrast to his circumspect manner with his colleagues. Irene Allan’s Kirstin is power dressed in black with dark hair scraped back from her forehead. Sensible, practical, conscious of what it means to represent Scotland, she’s a politician with an eye on the future.

There are energetic but nuanced performances from all three cast members in this enjoyable, cautionary tale of parliamentary pitfalls. Exit polls say yes.

David G Moffat