Milan’s Game


An international team of top-class dancers are heading to the Fringe for a Duet with a difference


Hello guys, first things first, where are you all from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Xavier: Hi there! So we’re all from different parts of Europe. Delicia is from Thessaloniki in Greece, Samuel is from Mallorca in Spain but has lived in the Midlands most of his life, and I am from Porto in Portugal. We all met when we were training in Bath, where we each graduated in either Dance or Acting and where the collaborations began in which AllouAqui was born. Since then we have stayed in Bath and Bristol, which is where we make our performance work.

Can you tell us how your company AllouAqui came together?
Delicia: Well, both Xavier and I graduated from the same contemporary dance course and were both interested in pursuing a career in performance and choreography. Having worked together during the course we knew our aesthetics, ideas and visions matched and complemented each other so I think it was inevitable that sometime we would start collaborating through the form of a company. AllouAqui’s story started with a book by Milan Kundera which sparked the idea of creating a duet inspired by one of its stories. We started playing in the studio and soon decided to make a duet to be toured around England and possibly Europe. Noticing how well we work together we decided to set up a dance theatre company and that is how AllouAqui was born. The duet gradually developed through sharing and performing at different platforms and through the involvement of theatre director Samuel De La Torre who soon became the third member of our company.

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What is, would you say, the quintessence of the company’s creativity?
Samuel: Since the birth of the company, Delicia and Xavier have tirelessly worked to create work that merges movement with text. Dance-theatre is a world that has been so brilliantly explored and exposed, and a world that will never cease to amaze. AllouAqui’s creativity emerges from the simplest of life’s experiences. We use these to blend with our fantasies to create a world where all possibilities are available. We are driven by our experiences imagination and instincts and by a desire to play with the edges of our creativity; to explore the subtle and the extreme; and to disrupt the logical and the instinctual. Our creativity relates and retells the story of so many in our audiences, and exposes realities that are strangely easy to watch. The different cultural training and upbringing of each artist brings unique quirkiness through visual imagery that combines in such a way that delivers in our creativity. It is also important to consider our literary inspirations that opens our minds to so many more avenues and themes as well as the cinematic world that stimulates some of our visuals used whilst creating.

DELICIA SEFIHA

Delicia, you have performed all across Europe as a physical theatre performer and dance artist. Do you find the cultural styles of performance alter across the Continent as with its languages?
Delicia: I think in Europe every country and city has its own specific dance and theatre scene and I think it is natural for people who live in the same place and share the same sociopolitical concerns, the same language and the same cultural influences to also develop their own performance style. This is something I love about Europe’s performance scene. I remember watching a dance performance in Amsterdam thinking how much it didn’t fit the scene in England. I felt as though if it was performed in England, it wouldn’t have been received as brilliantly, but in Amsterdam it was a success. Having said that I also believe we have a lot in common, especially nowadays that each European country hosts so many different cultures. Our company is formed by a Portugese, a Greek and a Spanish artist living and working in England. So there you go, one company; four different cultures! There is definitely a common ground, but each country has to offer its own spices, and this is something we all love about creating work in Europe.

Where, why & when did you make the leap from Acting to Direction?
Samuel: Directing had always been a fear of mine; even before going into actor training. I felt it was always a little too out of my comfort zone, and never something I could achieve, having previously worked with some brilliant directors and witnessing their incredible skills. I guess self-doubt is the biggest enemy. It was in my first year of training that my tutor spoke to me about directing and if I had ever given it a try. I suppose it was at that moment that a seed was planted, and that my vision for directing began to develop. However, it was only after an invitation to assistant direct a production, that I really began to take the leap into directing. It was this experience that led me to join AllouAqui. The whole process with AllouAqui has definitely been a collaborative one, with choreography, text, sound and other elements all combining into one. I could not have done it all on my own, and the incredible creative vision of both Xavier and Delicia are unparalleled. However, I have definitely enjoyed taking a step back from performing on this one, and hope it is a vision for the future.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
Delicia: We are bringing an exciting mixture of movement, theatre, text and improvisation. A blending of the real and the surreal and a game between the ordinary and the unexpected. We are bringing two characters that reflect the paradoxes and the peculiarities of romantic relationships. Two characters that love, hate, ignore, support and overpower each other as they transform themselves and the space around them. And we are bringing a lot of humour!

Xavier, you are doing the choreography for the show, can you tell us about your training & experience?
Xavier: My journey as a performer began when I was a little boy, living in Portugal and watching my mum boogying to her favourite music! It was this that led me to attend training at Balleteatro in Porto, a dance and theatre school in my hometown where I trained in contemporary, improvisation, physical theatre and ballet. From then on, I couldn’t stop moving and learned quite an array of different dance styles. I then moved to Bath in order to continue my training and focused more on contemporary dance. However, I have always been interested in merging theatre with dance, and so I always focused on this during my training here. It was here that I met Delicia, and so we started the company AllouAqui, and together we choreograph and create work, which is how Milan’s Game came about.

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together?
Xavier: Throughout our creative process, in no doubt has the classic problem of ‘artists with no money’ been an obstacle for us. That being said, we have been extremely fortunate to have a great relationship with our university and the space we have been able to use there for rehearsals. Our biggest obstacle however, will always be our continual alterations for sections we create. It has now become almost routine for us to create sections, then revisit that section some days or weeks later, and recreate the whole scene again. When time is of the essence, sometimes it is not the most efficient way to work, however, it definitely should be seen by us in a positive light, as it ensures that we are meticulous in everything we create.

Do you feel you are match-sharp for the Fringe & if so, why?
Samuel: This question is some-what difficult to answer for me or for us as a company as this is our first time visiting the Fringe, let alone performing at it. That being said, we have worked tremendously hard for this piece and have done so for a while. We have performed Milan’s Game at various festivals and testing grounds which has shaped, refined and driven our performance as a whole. We’ve received feedback in a variety of ways, through speaking to audiences, via Q&A’s, online comments and also through reviews, which we feel have all added some grounding to our making process. So in a humble yet empowering sense, yes I feel we are match-sharp for the Fringe.

What disciplines are we to expect from the show?
Xavier: We, AllouAqui, play with a range of disciplines that focus on visual and auditory story-telling. In Milan’s Game definitely expect a lot of contemporary dance, blended with spoken text, improvisation as well as other theatrical elements that we are keeping as a surprise.

What are the magic ingredients to a good duet?
Delicia: I don’t think I can give a successful recipe that will work for everyone but I can certainly tell you what works for us. I think the most important is the relationship between the artists and performers, in this case, Xavier and myself. We both have the role of choreographer and performer and this could be something tricky as we have to agree to make decisions. Luckily, we are very good friends and very honest to each other. There is nothing we hesitate to test or to experiment with and there are no restrictions. One of the rules of our collaboration is to always express when we do not like something and to never get offended when one of our ideas gets rejected. As a result we go on stage and we are performing something we both love and the audience can see that too. There are certainly many difficulties when, in a duet, the choreographers are also the performers, so we are really lucky to have Samuel with us. Being with him in the studio means that we are constantly testing what we make and receive his reactions as well as his suggestions, advice and direction. There are many other elements that contribute to the composition of a good duet, like the idea behind the piece, the space, the timing, the movement language, the relationship with the audience and the list goes on and on. But to me it seems that if the relationship of the performers does not work none of the rest matters. After every performance we hug each other and say how much we enjoyed performing together; there is this lovely feeling of sharing your energy and passion with someone else. I value this more than the applause.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
Samuel: At 10am every morning this week at Surgeon’s Hall, come and spend your breakfast time with Milan’s Game! It’s a 45-minute, thoroughly-entertaining absurd comedic reality that exposes a couple’s relationship as they try to keep their momentum spicy.


Milan’s Game

the Space @ Surgeons Hall

19th – 24th August (10.00)

www.allouaqui.com

B’Witches

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Somewhere in the realms where entertainment meets expertise reigns BBC Radio’s Russell Clarke


Hello Pili, you are a young Argentinian living in London – where, when & why did you cross the Atlantic?
Pili: So, last year during my summer holidays, I decided to come to London for a month to take a screen acting course and I loved the multi-cultural vibe here so much that I decided to stay longer. Then those few months turned into 6 months! Then after 6 months of acting classes, I decided to audition for Drama Studio London, got my Visa sorted and here I am. It’s definitely a challenge to study and act in a different language but I love the challenge.

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Eden McDougall

Hello Eden, you’ve shot 18 short films since leaving drama school 4 years ago. Do you have a preference between stage and screen?
Eden: I can’t choose! I like to have my cake and eat it so I do a bit of both. I hadn’t done any theatre for a while so when I stumbled on this, it was perfect timing and I couldn’t refuse a part like this – playing a girl for a month!

Hello Jack, away from the stage you are a martial arts expert, can you tell us more?
Jack: Yeah, I grew up training a tradition Korean art which I started when I was 5. And when I was 18, I competed for Team GB at the World Championships and won 3 gold medals. Since then I’ve taken the performance aspect of competing and thrown it into my acting and stage work.

Hello Hannah, can you tell us about your training?
Hannah: Yes! So, I moved from Manchester two years ago (I think) and went to Rose Bruford to do a foundation in acting and I’ve not gone back since. Since then I’ve been living in London. I did a couple of months at Identity school of acting where I got to do a really fun showcase with Ian McFarlane before I got into DSL! It’s been the best and I’ve made some friends for life.

In a world where you can get entertainment ‘on demand’, what makes theatre special?
Jack: The live human interaction and energy in the room of live theatre is unmatchable in performance. You can capture that energy on camera sometimes but you will capture it all the time if you’re in the room, I think.

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Phil Vergara

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Pili: I always loved movies and theatre. When I finished high school, I studied drama at Uni. I also was lucky enough to go to the theatre with my dad from a young age and he really pushed me to achieve my dreams.

How did you find working with Igor Zolotovitsky?
Jack: Working with the Moscow Arts Theatre was a dream come true. We are so grateful to ETEFI. We got the wackiest week imaginable and got to experience loads of different ways of accessing the work including Butoh dancing! And meet like-minded creatives from Europe and Russia.

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Hannah Hughes

You are studying together at Drama Studio London, what’s the institution like?
Hannah: Drama Studio is like a home away from home. It’s like a big old family. It’s got a focused feel in the training but you feel supported and looked after by our tutors and directors. Shoutout to Kit Thacker for helping us believe it can happen!

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
Hannah: I like to take a minute by myself after walking around the space, to ground myself and breathe deep. Then I would probably just pray to theatre Gods I don’t fuck it up.

Have you ever done any immersive theatre before? How are you going to prepare for unexpected audience responses?
Eden: I don’t think you can ever second guess an audience but as long as we’re having fun, they’re having fun and we as a cast are all on our toes the whole time, I’m looking forward to the unexpected challenges chucked our way. Bring it on!

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Jack Thomas

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
Jack: We are bringing a silly comedy that is put together by friends. It’s created a performance that brings across everybody having a good time; so, the audience gets to join in on the good time, especially with the immersive experience we’re bringing.

Do you guys socialize much outside your formal drama duties?
Pili: Well Eden is pretty new to the group but Hannah, Jack and myself basically live in each other’s pockets most of the time. We’re almost telepathic with each other.

You’re playing Camilla after she’s been turned into a boy. Is it fun playing a woman?
Eden: So much fun! My favourite bit is when Camilla discovers she has a penis! We went charity shop hunting for my costumes and scared off a few of their customers with our in-shop catwalk display.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Hannah: Hey guys! Do you like drinks, immersive theatre, comedy and magic? We have your seats warmed up for you upstairs. Our play is about three witches trying against all odds trying not to turn to stone. Sounds fun, right? That’s because it is, we can’t wait to see you there!


B’Witches

The Outhouse Bar

Aug 15-25 (14.00)

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www.bwitches.co.uk

Black Sheep

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 Eddie Mullarkey and Mag’s McHugh have teamed up
The result is emerald, comedy emerald!


Hello, so first things first, where are you both from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Mags: I was born Watford England. Irish parents from Co Mayo. Irish upbringing. So Irish Dancing (Not Riverdance standard) Holidays in Ireland . Never felt English whatever that is. Just wanted to marry Elton John. He married Renarta, I was devastated. In my 50’s now. I moved to Ireland to care for parents. My Dad loved comedy and lent me his chair. I still live in Dublin and for now it’s home.
Eddie: I’m from Galway in the rainy west of Ireland. I’m based in sunny Dublin.

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When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Mags: People laugh at me when I’m acting normal. I’m bewildered really as I think a bit differently… I did stand-up as a wee break from minding my parents. I knew I could talk to people as I work in recovery and with groups. Comedy was a challenge.

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When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
Eddie: Hmmm… my family always make fun of each other, I’ve three older sisters that used to call me ‘Edwina’ when I was a young boy. They tried to convince me I was a lesbian girl, so comedy and jokes were necessary to get through that sibling rivalry. And we watched all the Marx brothers repeatedly on VHS tape, watching Groucho Marx try to scam self entitled people probably developed my passion for comedy.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Mags: The first time I did a real gig there was laughter. I was so shocked I came off stage early. They loved my psychic set. Comedy is a vehicle for change for me. It’s a place to play.

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You’re Washed up on a Desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo. What three movies would you bring?
Eddie: I hope there’s buttered popcorn on this island. The Sound of Music – and the sequel ‘Ex nuns vs Nazis.’ Marx brothers – A Night at The Opera. Coen Brothers – No Country For Old Men

Last year a reviewer saved your life, what’s the backstory?
Mags: A reviewer said ‘Mags is funny and quirky as a chipmunk’ bit intriguing it made me look up chipmunk as I wanted to see what one looked like. Mainly Fat cheeks! He was right very fat. Next day I was busy trying to see myself in a window reflection without looking at the road. (It made sense in my head) I got hit by a white van. I didn’t see it at all. Long story short. I had gone blind in my left eye and was in heart failure. 2 ops on eye and heart and I’m grand now.

Where and when did you two meet?
Eddie: We met a little after Brexit, I cant remember what comedy gig, she made me laugh and then she helped me organise a few gigs and we’ve been laughing since. She’s a very cheeky lady.

Last year you came runner up at the Irish competition ‘Show me the funny’, how was that experience?
Eddie: It was a really fun gig, I hadn’t been doing comedy too long so I was ecstatic afterwards. My sisters kept my ego in check by saying Mags was robbed.

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You’re performing at this years Edinburgh Fringe. What are you guys bringing to the table?
Eddie: We’re going to bring some levity to the mental health discussion, laughing at yourself is the best therapy as Freud said. Together the two of us are bringing two very different life stories, Mags is in her 50’s and grew up a devout catholic. I’m in my 20’s and grew up with porn on a mobile phone. Different realities. Different struggles, different anxieties. It’s a very fun show.

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What are you looking forward to the most about returning to the Fringe?
Mags: Oh looking forward to getting accessibility and domestic abuse into comedy arena. Making people laugh. Throw in Fat,OCD and the madness of making same mistakes repeatedly and working with Eddie of course coz he is class. He’s funny and clever.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to someone on the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Eddie: Mags grew up as a black sheep, she claims to have an award winning vagina. Eddie is trying to stay woke. Mags just wants a nap. Different generations with the same guilt. Join us for a laugh.


Black Sheep

Sofi’s Southside

Aug 1-25 (12:00)

Black Sheep

Nicole Burgio: xoxo moongirl

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All the way from America comes circus with meaning…


Hello Nicole, first thing’s first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Staten Island, New York. Grew up in New Jersey. Live in Philadelphia. And am Currently in Edinburgh.

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Can you tell us about your training?
I was introduced to Gymnastics at 3 yers old and continued to pursue the sport competitively until my matriculation at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. Graduating university I left gymnastics and focused on getting my master degree in health psychology from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  During my time at graduate school, the circus came to Philadelphia. I went. The next day I decided to go to circus school. I was accepted at the New England Center of Circus Arts were I majored in trapeze and minored in partner acrobatics. From there I did a 2 year residency in Montreal, Canada training with coaches from the Ecole National de Cirque. And now, I travel all around the world to share, teach, and create with other artists.

When did you first realise circus was your passion?
When I sat in the front row as a 23 year old. In that moment I felt art-less. I felt detached from my body. I missed moving and I missed sweating. I looked at the performers below me and I thought to myself “how incredibly beautiful”. It just seemed like the perfect fusion of art and sport.

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Can you tell us about Almanac Dance Circus Theater?
Almanac Dance Circus theater in an ensemble based collective located in Philadelphia. We like to define ourselves as storytellers. Each one of Almanac’s members come from a different place of specialty: circus, theater, dance, clown, music, writing. We combine our forces and make something strong and beautiful.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Well… It has to be a sunny day. I want to wake up with a coffee and a chocolate muffin while I watch Shameless. Then I would like to laugh with my sister on the phone until she tells me she has to go to the bathroom so we have to hang up. Then, I would love to pick out a funky outfit…grab my partner.. and spend the day outside. Get lost in Philadelphia. Eat somewhere I never ate before… find friends randomly on the street… allow them to distract me into a new adventure. I would love to end my Sunday watching a movie and after walk around the block to exhaust whatever energy I have left. Then..Finally… hold my parter as we watch anime to fall asleep.

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You are bringing a piece called oxo moongirl to the Edinburgh Fringe Fringe, can you tell us about it?
Yes, I am bringing my solo show xoxo moongirl to Edinburgh. The show is a blend between a circus fantasia and my real life experience of growing up in a house with domestic violence. Ben Grinberg (director) and myself attempted to make an ugly story and a somewhat scary one.. into something beautiful…. in my opinion we did just that.

Moongirl is your co-creation with Ben Grinberg, who is also directing the piece – how did you & he meet?
After I graduation circus school I cam back to Philadelphia and taught a workshop at the Pig Iron School of Theater, where Ben was completing his final year of school. After Ben graduated he created a show called Communitas which included a ton of acrobatics… he ask if I would be the acrobatic consultant for the show.. I said yes… and never left.

What have been the creative processes behind xoxo moongirl, from inception to realisation?
I was in Mexico teaching and directing at one of Mexico Cities largest circus schools, Casa de Artes Circo Contemporanea, and I was spending a lot of time alone. I started to think maybe I could make a solo show…what story would I want to tell? I started to think in all sorts of images. I wanted flying dinner tables… eggs everywhere… red sweaters that unraveled.. mirrors.. and milk. I told Ben. He said “ok…. that seems like a lot”. We decided to get in the rehearsal room and play… And what came out… the story that was hiding in me… was the story about my messy family… about the abuse I saw… about how I love adventure…. about how I love story telling and sharing. and then… there was xoxo moongirl.

Domestic abuse is not a typical theme for circus, how has it been going down with audiences?
This was very scary for many reasons. I didn’t want people to feel bad for me or think “oh poor her”. I didn’t want to trigger those who have experiences violence or domestic abuse. And, I did’t want to seem callous or insensitive because the show involves a lot of clown and humor.  But, I am lucky. I have had the experience of talking to many audience members some who have had experience with abuse, some who have no relation to violence, some who have been in an identical situation to my mother. The feeling that I get from them is that I and my team have done a good job. People are messy. I am messy. The public seem to understand that and resonate with that message.  One thing that I hear from audiences is that circus is something that requires discipline, physical strength, courage in the face of fear. So on a basic level, circus is a pretty good metaphor for what it takes to overcome domestic abuse situations. Then I think we’ve done a pretty good job connecting specific circus apparatus with specific feelings and characters within the show, so that they don’t feel like they come out of nowhere, but are an integral part of the narrative. Handstands are a way of processing a traumatic moment, the silks become a world my mother enters when she is drunk and on ambien, and the trapeze is about transformation and a returning to the ground to face what needs to be faced.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell xoxo moongirl on the streets of Edinburgh …
xoxo moongirl is a story about a girl, her experience with domestic violence, and her flight to the moon to escape and prevail. If you ever felt like an underdog or unheard… I think you should come…


xoxo moongirl

31 Jul – 25 Aug (19:50)

Assembly Checkpoint

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www.thealmanac.us

An Interview with Konstantin Kisin

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The Russians DO have a wicked sense of humour…
Konstantin Kisin is living proof


Hello Konstantin, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union, then Russia. I now live just outside of London.

When did you first realise you were funny?
I broke my arm playing basketball and found myself cracking jokes in the emergency room to keep everyone calm as they straightened my arm out!

How did you get into stand-up?
I went to a comedy festival where I saw top tier comics doing clubs sets for 8 hours a day, 5 days in a row and naively thought “That looks easy – I can do that!”.

23509094_10159714357840531_2394626030599129146_o.jpgWhat is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It’s a buzz. I think the most addictive thing about it is that it’s unpredictable. One night you’re killing it, next night you’re struggling. You never know how it’s going to go so it keeps you hungry and sharp.

Can you tell us what you know about the comedy scene in Russia?
There isn’t much of one. To have a genuine comedy scene, you need a freedom scene.

Can you tell us about Kilkenomics & your role?
Kilkenomics invites some of the leading political and economic thinkers in the world to participate in debates hosted by comedians. It’s the perfect place for a political comedian like me!

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You’re debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
A show about being in the middle of a major international newstory, being saluted by John Cleese and abused online by Katie Hopkins.

What are the ingredients that make your show special?
It’s a funny but intelligent, informative show that pushes back against woke dogma and restriction of free speech.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Did you see the news story about the comedian who refused to sign a safe space contract? Wait, don’t go!


Orwell That Ends Well

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Aug 1-26 (19:00)

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www.konstantinkisin.com