An Interview with Kevin Quantum

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The irrepressible & sorcerous talent that is Kevin Quantum is returning to the Fringe


Hello Kevin, so where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m in Edinburgh, near the Botanic Gardens. Lovely part of the world.

When did you first realise you were, well, magical?
After being on a reality TV show. I was a physicist up until 12 years ago. Then I was plucked from obscurity to go on C4’s Faking It and found I had not just an aptitude but a love for being on stage. So I ceased the PhD and became a magician. Needless to say mummy was surprised.

You are a Guinness World Record Breaker, can you tell us about it?
Sure, like most of my work it was a collaboration, this time between myself and Royal Blind Charity here in Edinburgh. We brought 2000+ people together and I taught them a magic trick. The biggest magic lesson ever! It was so surreal.

What does Kevin Quantum like to do when he’s not being, well, magical?
I play in a tennis league, I compose music for guitar and bass, I spend time with my family. My daughter is 4 now and I love spending time with her. I have a huge family (mum is one of 9 kids and dad is one of 7 so lots of cousins, uncles, aunts etc ) and I’m one of 4 kids myself. We’re close and I really take the time to spend time with them. I love them all.

You know a good show when its happened, what are the special ingredients?
From the performer’s side, there are three things. 1) attention to detail. 2) Rehearsal. 3) Heart.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Well it’s definitely summer, and I’m somewhere warm but with a gentle breeze. And I have a scifi book and nothing on my to do list. That’s real magic.

Which corner of the planet has inspired you the most, & why?
This year Adelaide, I got so much from watching the shows at the Adelaide Fringe in February. And so many of my friends from the Antipodes are here this year! Check out Josh Glancy, Tom Walker, Zach and Viggo amazing acts. A wonderful city. I made friends and won awards and had sell out crowds. Kinda the perfect overseas tour. I’m not really one for the city-city tour circuit. It’s pretty tough moving every day somewhere new, so when a festival opportunity arrises then I’m well up for it. Edinburgh and Adelaide have lots in common, they both come alive during the fringe. I felt right at home.

What is it about being performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
The buzz. The adrenaline. It’s the best. With the magic/science thing I get to be an engineer when not performing building cool props and illusions.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
This year it’s NEON FUTURE. A show that examines what the future is. With magic. And laughs. In it I examine our evolution using the only discipline able to illustrate our incredible possible futures, here, in the present: magic. Having spent half of my adult life studying physics and half magic, I explore the exotic space where science and magic meet.

What does the rest of 2019 hold in store for Kevin Quantum?
Moving house! And to be honest, not too much more. I’ll likely plan a tour and get on with other jobs when they come along 🙂


Neon Future

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

July 31 – Aug 26 (18:00)

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www.quantummagician.com

An Interview with Andy Gunn

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One of Scotland’s finest Blues connoisseurs is doubling up this Fringe…


Hello Andy, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born near Glasgow, lived most of my life in the Highlands and currently reside in Portugal.

Where does your love of music come from?
My mum used to say I wouldn’t go anywhere in my pram without a radio, or wireless as my Grannie used to call it. My mum loved rock ’n’ roll music and my Dad played the same country and western compilation tape about 8 thousand times up and down the A9, the main trunk road connecting the north and south of Scotland.

What instruments do you play?
I play different types of guitar, acoustic, 12 string, electric, cigar box, National Steel, the Portuguese guitar and Ukulele, all in the same night as it happens. I’m doing a show at the Fringe this year called Fingers and Thumbs, all about various stringed instruments, come along it’ll be muito bem!

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Which singers & styles have influenced your own voice?
I love all types of singers, as long as it’s got soul behind it. I like people who improvise and really connect with the music in an honest and authentic way every time they play the song. I was just thinking about John Lee Hooker today. He was illiterate but I’d say he turned this to his advantage because his vocals and guitar playing were always fresh and alive, never sounding tired like he was just re-performing the same song. Blues and jazz are the most vibrant forms of music to me, it’s all open to interpretation, how you feel on the day, so I love all the greats of those genres.

You’ve got three famous Bluesmen from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Well Hendrix would have to be there for the psychedelic craic about UFO’s n that, Muddy H20 to tell us how he invented electricity, giving birth to electric blues and rock ’n’ roll as we know it today and of course EC ‘Slow Hand’ to pay for the garlic bread, pizza and ice cream!

What is it about the Blues that makes you tick?
I’ve always related to the blues somehow, even as a white kid in the Highlands while everyone else was listening to Kylie and Jason or Simple Minds, I was listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins because he made me feel better, the sound healed me in a way I didn’t really understand then, turning the recognition of pain and suffering into hope and resilience.

Have you made any pilgrimages to the great sites of Blues?
I went to Beale Street in Memphis a couple of times, went to Chicago and sat in on the jam nights at Buddy Guy’s club Legends and made my way south to New Orleans, to eat some gumbo and see how the Cajon folk do it. All of which were amazing experiences, Clint Eastwood said the most valuable contribution that the US made to the world was jazz, I’d say the blues even more so.

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You’ve played all over the world, from Nashville to Kinlochbervie, but which is the best audience you’ve ever performed in front of?
I like it when people listen to the music but in a relaxed way, not shouting over the top of it, but not feeling inhibited to go to the bar etc, some kind of happy medium. It’s nice when people maybe have an understanding of the influences I’ve tried to assimilate into my playing, trying to find my own voice, but it’s also nice when there’s people who don’t know much about the music but just enjoy it for what it is. The gig in Kinlochbervie was just at my pal’s house playing for the kids and the neighbours having a laugh, but yeah that was probably one of my favourite nights, just what life is all about, hanging out in a nurturing, happy environment, being creative.

You have just released ‘Rainbow Bird.’ Can you tell us about the recording process?
We recorded this live in one take in Castlesound studios near Edinburgh, though we did add the strings later, late last year. I recorded it with a jazz trio and three female local singers, the full line up is;

Andy Gunn – Guitar and Vocals
Amy Hawthorn – Second Vocal and spoken word
Marissa Keltie – Backing Vocal
Caroline Gilmour – Backing vocal
David Carnegie – Drums
Tom Lyne – Double Bass
Chick Lyall – Piano
Mr McFall’s Chamber – Strings

Why has it taken the best part of a year to release it?
I wrote this song two years ago but only just got around to recording it, that’s nothing it took me ten years to record ‘Going Home Again’ a song about the people of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.

You are doing two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe; why double up & can you tell us a bit about each one?
I created From T-Bone To Trucks last year after living in Edinburgh and talking to some of the local musicians there. I thought I’d like to be part of the Festival, so I thought well what am I good at, what do I know about and the answer hit me like a ton of bricks, blues guitar! It was a big jo but we got there and in fact it was a resounding success, a sell-out run. So I decided to return for another series of shows, only three but in a great venue. Fingers and Thumbs was another one of my bright ideas, thinking well if I’m in Edinburgh at the Fringe I might as well make the most of it and so I came up with this idea of how I could translate the skills I have in my hands onto different instruments. That show is a lot more eclectic, taking in blues, country, folk, Portuguese Fado and African music.

T-Bone To Trucks was a sell-out last year, have you tweaked it in the interim?
Yes it is an expanded show this year, running time will be about an hour and a half. We’ve added five new acts this year, John Lee Hooker, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray and Doyle Bramhall II, it’s gonna be awesome, I’d highly recommend it.

Having established a fan-base with T-bone, how do you think they’ll take the change of pace & style with Fingers and Thumbs?
Well, I like all different styles of music and listen to a wide range of stuff depending on my mood and what medicine I require, music can lift you up or settle you down or anything in between, so I suppose the show is a reflection of that. I always liked how Led Zeppelin could do everything from Bert Jansch tunes to thunderous stadium rock all in the one set and it not be out of place. I like dynamics, think it’s a good thing and I’m hoping the audiences will enjoy it, but yes it is a slower paced set certainly.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell each of your shows in the streets of Edinburgh…
T-Bone! Wanna know where rock ’n’ roll came from? Or why blues is the most vital music you’ll ever hear? Then get yo bad self down to Stramash on Sunday afternoons at 1pm, there’ll be an 8 piece rocking band, specially created videos projected and Livingston legend Amy Hawthorn filling you in on the stories of all these amazing blues legends, we’ll be belting out the blues to make your big toe shoot up in your boot! Fingers! would you like some respite from the Fringe madness on a Saturday night? Hear some soulful sounds by a great lost Scottish talent in a beautiful tranquil church? Come, listen and learn about what joins the blues, folk, jazz and Celtic music, Portuguese Fado and Saharan African music, we’re more alike than disalike as Maya Angelou said, music the universal language.. or everybody gets the blues sometime! Come hear it translated by the minstrels fingers!


From T-Bone To Trucks

Stramash

Sunday 4th, 11th and 18th (13:00)

Fingers & Thumbs

artSpace@StMarks,

 Saturday 3rd, 10th and 17th August (20:20)

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www.andygunn.net

Holy Land

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There is a certain sublime genius to the works of Elegy Theatre, & they are bringing something fresh to the Edinburgh Fringe


Hello Matthew, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I’m from Bedford originally, but I’ve been in South London ever since drama school!

When did you first realise you were, well, theatrical?
Never. I still deny it to this day!

You’ve trained as an actor at Italia Conti Acting in London, can you tell us about the experience?
Conti was great, it’s a real family atmosphere there, and I was a fantastic safe space to spend 3 years working out who I was and what I stood for. Drama school for me was more about the life experience than anything else; technique is great and gets you so far, but for me acting is just about constantly expanding your capacity for empathy – which only comes with time and the experiences that life provides. Also they really encouraged my writing, and I’m not sure I’d be writing now if I hadn’t had the support that I received there. More and more the industry is shifting to the idea of producing your own work, so I think I was very lucky to train at a place that has it’s finger on the pulse of the industry, so-to-speak.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
A huge lie-in… followed by a nap… followed by regretting my life choices, and then I’ll probably meet up with some friends and play some Warhammer! I’m a massive nerd, and a big tabletop war-gamer – so I try and fit it in around running Elegy when I can. Eat some good food, play some games, spend time with friends.

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Can you tell us about ELEGY & your personal role?
So Elegy formed in 2018 whilst I was at Conti, as a platform for small intimate shows, about huge sprawling ideas. We want to champion new writing that tackles those fundamental questions that affect everyone regardless of race, creed or culture. I’m the artistic director, so I generally decide what projects we tackle and what our future plans are likely to be. However we like to work as an ensemble, so when we’ve started working on a project my role is rather organic, and tends to float towards whatever the needs of the project demand of me; it’s different every project. We’re currently floating several ideas for new projects and I’ve got different roles in developing each of them. It’s rather exciting!

You’re bringing a play to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
It’s a deep dive into the world of gory, horrific viral content on the dark web, framed around the lives of three individuals – but really it’s much more than that. At its core it’s a human story, asking big questions about fate, possibility and control. The characters are all wrestling with these ideas: Kate’s trying to break out of her small town, Jon is trying to cope with his daughter’s death, Tim is trying to reconcile his past decisions with his new lifestyle; and we bounce between these narratives and timelines as they gradually reveal a darker picture…

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Your first major production, ‘ Faith & Heresy,’ played to sell out houses at several London Fringe venues in 2018 – so why try something new for Edinburgh?
Faith & Heresy was an absolute beast of and show, technically and creatively – it had a huge cast, and just didn’t sit well with the logistics of touring. Taking a show to Edinburgh is a mammoth task and Faith & Heresy is a show that needs a lot of time to set-up, which is hard to do when most places only let you have a 5 minute get-in! We’d love to bring Faith & Heresy to the fringe, it’s the sort of show that audiences would love to see at the fringe, it’s tender, ambitious and visually stunning, but it would have to be somewhere down the line when we can take it to a spacer that would really allow us to give it the time and love to deliver the quality show that Edinburgh audiences deserve. Also creatively who wants to do the same thing forever? We wanted to evolve, explore new ideas and forge our craft onwards! Holy Land is a definite step up for us, and we’re very excited to share it.

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Where, when & how did the idea for Holy Land originate?
I started writing the show more than a year ago as I was coming to the close of my time at Drama School. It’s a time in your life where you don’t have a lot of control over your life or decisions and that’s really what sits at the core of the play – How did we get to be here? How little control do we have? How much of it can we take? It went through a lot of iterations, but it wasn’t really sitting right for a long time – until one day I was talking to an old friend from home and she told me she’d found a video of herself online, on a less-than-ideal website… and that just struck me as horrific. Imagine finding a video of a terrible incident you went through posted online for millions to see, and then discuss, joke over, and be able to do nothing about it. It was brimming with all the same ideas I was eager to discuss, and so I started doing some research and digging into these websites. The things on there I’ve seen have honestly shaken me to my core, and no one is really talking about it. So I took it straight back to my writing desk, and in a few months there was a finished draft.

If your writing style was a soup, what would be the key ingredients?
Lyrical dialogue, vast ideas, a fragile hope.

How is the dual-role of writer & actor coming to you, – is it natural or a struggle?
They’re constantly clashing, especially with as we are constantly refining our work; cutting, changing the script. Pat has to remind me to just be an actor sometimes,

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Rick Romero as ‘Jon’

You are currently touring Holy Land about the UK – is the production still being tweaked?
Oh definitely! It’s part of our company ethos, we always are tweaking, night to night! You can only really tell if something truly works when it’s infant of an audience. What we’re tweaking changes though, the script is pretty solid right now, but we still like to dabble with the technical elements and try things out… it’s slightly different every night!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
A father’s revenge, a young girl’s dream, a young man’s regret – Holy Land is an odyssey into the Dark Web told through interweaving, explosive monologues and stunning audio visual projection.


Holy Land

C Aquila

 Aug 14-26 (13:00)

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www.elegytheatre.com

Joe Bor: The Story of Walter & Herbert

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From family & friendship to the Fringe comes a touchingly hilarious show..


Hello Joe, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
North London, I grew up in Camden.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
I could do an impression of my art teacher when I was 16.

When did you first develop a passion for being a comedian?
When I was 18 I started to go to comedy clubs and got the bug.

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You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, what have you got for us?
It’s the first story show I’ve done and the first show I’ve done about someone else. It’s actually about two people, my granddad and his best friend. It’s called ‘The Story of Walter and Herbert’, about town planner Walter Bor and actor Herbert Lom. Herbert helped my grandad Walter escape Nazi occupied Prague and they were very close for many years until they had a falling out, but something brought them back together.

How did you do your research & most of all, where did you find the humour in Nazi-occupied Europe?
I had to do a lot of research, I had to do a lot of interviews, I read my grandad’s book, listened to a 18 hour interview online and read letters they wrote to each other. On the face of it, it wasn’t particularly funny, but there is comedy in everything, I just had to look deeply and experiment with my telling of the story. What the Nazi’s did is far from funny, but there is still comedy in the story. Just looking at the photographs, the fashion, the relationships, the architecture, my grandad’s obsession with food…I realised there is plenty of potential for laughs. the challenge is in not belittling their achievements and being sensitive to the tragedy that surrounds it. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Can you tell us a little more about the two mens’ careers post-war.
My granddad was in charge of rebuilding the East End of London after the war which was pretty important and then was a town planner for Liverpool, he then designed Milton Keynes and went back to be a town planner for Prague.
Herbert had some big roles in the Theatre, the King and I, before working as an announcer for the BBC after the war, so his mum could hear he was alive and well. He did some heavy dramatic roles in big movies such as Spartacus until Blake Edwards (director of The Pink Panther) said he was funny when he was serious and cast him as detective Dreyfus in The Pink Panther, he did many films opposite fellow comedy legend Peter Sellers and was in Ealing comedies such as The LadyKillers as well.

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What was your relationship with grandfather like, & how does your show reflect that?
I discuss our relationship in the show. He died when I was 18, and when I was a teenager I wasn’t really interested in him and I am ashamed of that. I was his eldest grandson, I saw him lots and he’d take me to architecture lectures and influenced me a lot but I think we were very distant. I have since realised he had a similar sort of that relationship with a lot of people. He never spoke about his family or his life, probably because it felt too painful.

What advice do you have for anyone performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time?
Find nice places to eat and exercise and nice places to escape the festival, that’s important. Don’t drink too much!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
It’s a story about friendship, two best friends, who escaped nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, were each others’ best men, had a big falling out but an extraordinary thing happened that brought them back together. It’s a show that I’ve been working on for a while that means a lot to me, that’s funny and interested and heartwarming, if that’s what you like.

What will Joe Bor be doing for the rest of 2019?
I have a few things I am working on, some films and I am doing a big tour with Kojo Anim (finalist of BGT). Hopefully I’ll be touring this show too, I’d like it to have a life after Edinburgh, I feel like it’s an important show.


The Story of Walter & Herbert

Underbelly George Square

Aug 1-25 (17:45)

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www.joebor.co.uk

Nigel Osner: Too Young Too Old

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Nige Osner is back & he’s off to the Edinburgh Fringe…


Hello Nigel, so first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in London and still live there.

Your journey to performer is quite a convoluted one, can you tell us the short version?
Will try! I am a non-practising barrister and was employed in the Ministry of Justice. But I had a yearning to be a performer. I began by helping to write, then act in, departmental pantomimes. I fancied myself as rather good, but came to realise I needed singing lessons, courses on acting and the advantage of a good director! I appeared at a couple of fringe venues, doing a mixture of existing material – e.g. Coward, Kurt Weill, Lehrer – and writing my own lyrics. I also started to work three days a week, to spend more time on writing and performing. In 2008 I left the Department and found an acting agent. However, I stopped performing for a bit and got more involved in films or fringe theatre. In 2011 I thought I would give performing another go. Since then in London I have performed at the Crazy Coqs, the studio at the Other Palace, the Pheasantry and more alternative venues. In 2016 it seemed time to try the Edinburgh Fringe, so I put together ‘Angel to vampire!’, an entirely original show based on my life’s yearnings. My current show, which I will be taking to the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes this year, is called ‘Too young to stay in, too old to go out!’ What I do is tell stories, whether in song or monologues, as different characters, both men and women – and occasionally supernatural beings!

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You’re quite the polymath, where do you think such a wide array of interests come from?
Creativity can come out in different ways at different times. For a long time I expressed this side by painting, portraits especially. This overlapped with my writing and I had a children’s book published years ago. I helped adapt this into a musical. I have continued writing and enjoy the fantasy genre. However, I particularly wanted to express myself as a performer. By writing my own material at least nobody can say they have seen it done better! As to why there are these different interests, I can’t say. I just need to express myself in this way. I no longer paint though. But underlying everything is a sort of escapism and yet also a desire to be truly myself.

A couple of years ago you performed ‘Angel to Vampire!’ in Brighton and Edinburgh – how did it all go?
‘Angel to vampire!’ is a show about my life’s yearnings. However, I don’t illustrate everything directly. After all, I’m neither an angel nor a vampire! I thought it was brilliant title, but in retrospect not everyone likes vampires and for those who do, there would not have been enough supernatural characters. The show got some good reviews in Edinburgh, including that in the Fringe Review, which was beautifully written, supportive and a joy to have. However, the audience could have been larger so, as with many Edinburgh shows, I lost a bit of money. I also learned lessons for the future about venues and advertising. I stayed for the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe but the following year performed only seven days in the Brighton Fringe. Again, that could have been busier but the feedback was positive and I have now developed a good relationship with Sweet venues.

Can you tell us about the unfortunate break in proceedings from last year’s follow-up show?
Break literally! I had arranged to perform ‘Too young to stay in, too old to go out!’ with Sweet for four early evenings. The first two shows were full and the audience reaction was very encouraging. On the second night I went out afterwards with two friends from London. It was a jolly evening! Nevertheless, I did not get back that late to where I was staying. I had to get up in the middle of the night and somehow my right foot gave way. I could not walk on it in the morning so took myself off to the hospital. I thought I had sprained the foot or possibly broken a toe. In fact I had broken four metatarsals, which was regarded as serious because of potential swelling. As I couldn’t do the show sitting down, I had to cancel the remaining performances and hire a minicab to London. That did not lead to financial profit!

So what is ‘Too Old To Stay In Too Young To Go Out’ all about?
It is about the challenges and occasional opportunities for those who can no longer claim to be young, even to themselves. I examine dating, love, work, holidays – even the gym! I do this with original songs and stories by male and female characters. There’s lots of humour but with a bitter sweet edge. Characters include Gerald who is having a taxing night out in central London; a rich designer who falls for his hunky gardener; the woman driven mad by her companion on a river cruise down the Danube; and a fading star on an endless tour. I am particularly – but not exclusively – aiming the show at an older audience, as I am not sure enough material is written with their concerns in mind..

You’ve just performed the show in Brighton – how did it go & have you tweaked the it in the interim?
The show went well in May. Audience reaction was warm and involved. Fringe Review called it ‘a beautiful piece of solo work’. Broadway Baby said it was ‘‘Witty, bitchy, achingly sad and, finally, strangely uplifting’. I have been working on the show for over a year now. One piece has been omitted and a new song has been introduced. The narrative in between the songs and stories has been altered or developed. In Brighton the show achieved pretty much its final Fringe state. There have been only a few tweaks since then.

What are the fundamental differences between performing at the Brighton & the Edinburgh Fringes?
The Brighton Fringe is less full-on, less crowded and has more of a local audience, which I find appreciates my material. A huge proportion of the Edinburgh audience come along from outside the city. In 2018 there were 3500 shows. It is not a relaxing experience.

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What advice do you have for someone making their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe?
I would really want to catch that person before they made their debut. If they have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe, they should go up the year before and check out the venues, the shows and the vibe. If this is now their first year, go to an introduction to the Fringe if they can get to one. Be very clear about what they want from the Fringe and go after those aims. When in Edinburgh, make use of Fringe Central. Staff there are helpful. Go to events. Speak to other Fringe performers. Work hard on promoting the show. Take advantage of any opportunity. Do not expect unalloyed joy. Look out for the positives and value them.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
In August I’ll be taking my show to the Edinburgh Fringe. My aim is to promote interest in a tour of small venues and a London run of an expanded version of the show. I would like to revive ‘Angel to Vampire!’ for Halloween. Apart from that I’ll do bits and pieces plus try to get cast in a play or film. And I’ll hope to write some new material.


Too Young Too Old

Sweet Novotel

Aug 2-11, 13-18 (17:45)

osner

www.nigelosner.com