An Interview with Valour & Tea

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Valour & Tea love Vancouver, & of course Vancouver loves Valour & Tea. The Mumble managed a wee blether with the intrepid duo…


Hello ladies, so where are you both from and where are you at, geographically speaking?
Val: At present, we are both located in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). But Celene arrived in Alberta by way of Prince George, British Columbia.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Celene: Probably when I was around 9 years old and was cast as Mrs Claus in my primary school Christmas play. I’ve become a marginally better actor since then.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Val: I believe good theatre accounts for its audience – it requires them to be there. If your audience watches your play and thinks “that would work just as well on screen as on stage” then you’ve missed out. I think this is why so many theatre practitioners are now leaning towards site-specific work, shows that require audience participation, and pieces that are immersive – all of those experiences demand that the audience be present in order for them to happen.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Val: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Carl Reiner’s The Jerk and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Celene: Catherine II, Aphra Behn and Salvador Dali.
Starter: stuffed mushrooms
Main: charcuterie and cheese selection
Dessert: black forest cake (picked up from a bakery)

Stuffed mushrooms always remind me of family and home, and I think comfort food is a great ice-breaker. I’m not terribly domestic and wouldn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen whilst having such luminaries in my abode. Plus, I really like charcuterie.

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Can you tell us about Valour & Tea?
Val:
‘Valour & Tea’ is the banner that Celene and I fly over our comedic misadventures. It provides us with an outlet for our mutual love for vaudeville-style duo comedy, as well as our other recklessly ambitious theatre projects. Our official-unofficial motto is “we can totally do that;” we chase our impulsive creative pipe-dreams with a profound bullheadedness and somehow make them work. And – amazingly – audiences seem to like it. Our work is character-driven, audience-interactive, often site-specific, and we always think we’re hilarious.

Six years into your creative journey together, what are you doing differently to when you started?
Celene: We’ve managed to introduce some order to the chaos – we didn’t really know what we were doing with our first show, DOES THIS TURN YOU ON? We had a lot of ideas but didn’t know how to refine and focus them into the greater story. As a result, DTTYO was very manic (though oh so fun) and I think we learned a great deal from that process. We also have the obvious benefit now of a long working relationship: we understand and trust one another. That encourages us to take risks and challenge ourselves, resulting in more interesting work.

You’ve done Vancouver before, with DOES THIS TURN YOU ON? – how did it go?
Celene: We love Vancouver as a city, and as our first non-hometown Fringe it was wonderfully welcoming of our weird clown sketch comedy show. The show received mixed reviews – I recall one person wrote at length about it and I was thrilled, thinking, “Yes, he got everything we were going for!”. And then I read a review where the critic’s one positive note was that it had a short running time. We didn’t lose our shirts, so overall I consider the experience a success. Vancouver is the last of the North American Fringe touring season, so it’s always really special to connect with other artists for one last hurrah. I think that’s part of the reason we keep coming back.

What are the ingredients to your style?
Val: Vaudeville, slapstick, physical theatre, music, dance and a teeny bit of puppetry.

Can you describe your working relationship with Celene in one word?
Val: Audacious

Can you describe your working relationship with Val in one word?
Celene: Intrepid

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You’re bringing your new creation, Jan & Peg’s Ritual Sacrifice, to the Vancouver Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Celene: Two well-meaning housewives, one Tupperware party, one search for the perfect sacrifice. Nothing is sacred in this irreverent romp through the perils of multi-level marketing, proper ceremony etiquette, and ambrosia salad. Join Jan and Peg for some good old-fashioned fun, and who knows? Maybe later a very special guest will be conjured… er, drop by. Come for the cupcakes, stay for the summoning!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Val: “Oh hi there, hon! What are you doing this evening? Maybe you’d like to attend my totally normal Tupperware party! It’s totally normal and not at all suspicious in any way – say, how’s your liver? You look like a guy who has a really nice set of internal organs. You should bring those to my party – Kidneys, too, okay? Super, hon, see you tonight!”

What will you & your play be doing after the Fringe?
Celene: There are no concrete plans yet, but as we build a repertoire of shows to draw on I think a tour is inevitable. We both love travel and there’s nothing like the working vacation of doing a project in a new city. And as a company we design our shows to be as low-waste and mobile as possible. Have art, will travel!


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Jan & Peg’s Ritual Sacrifice

Tickets on sale August 8th

Performance Works

Sept 7 – 6:00pm
Sept 9 – 9:30pm
Sept 11 – 7:00pm
Sept 12 – 7:00pm
Sept 15 – 3:00pm
Sept 16 – 5:45pm

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www.facebook.com/ValourandTea

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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www.interactivetheatre.com.au

An Interview with Sam Rees

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Sam Rees possesses a brilliant theatrical mind, & is just about to unleash a Nick Cave inspired, dreamy love paean upon the Fringe. The Mumble managed a wee blether…


Hello Sam so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Sam: Hi! I was born in North-East London but moved to East Anglia when I was 2. I grew up in a town called Bury St Edmunds, about 20 minutes from Cambridge.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Sam: Looking back, I think when I learnt all the words to ‘Commotion in The Ocean’ before I could read, it was already pretty inevitable.

What does Sam Rees like to do when he’s not being creative?
Sam: Mainly earn money in order to be creative! But I also love music and have recently gotten back into swimming after some less than healthy years at university.

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How, where, when & why were ‘We Talk Of Horses Theatre’ formed, & what is your role in the company?
Sam: The company was formed by me and one of my bestest mates, Pip Williams, who also studied drama at UEA. We solidified around an idea about July 2017. We’re both artistic directors, as well as (for this project) writers and performers. We brought in another mate to direct, another to do the music, and another to do the publicity art. Next time round I think the pair of us would like to switch up our roles again, scare ourselves a bit.

What is the company ethos, exactly, what are trying to achieve?
Sam: We formed because we believe that when it really comes down to it theatre is more collaborative than it is competitive. Particularly in this day and age, with more and more people wanting to succeed at it, we think it’s so, so important to form bonds, compromise, make friends, share ideas, enrich each other. No man’s an island. As we expand we want to bring more and more people in, add more talent to the melting pot.

Last year you were in Edinburgh with Suited Elephant’s ‘POV,’ how did you find the experience?
Sam: That was an amazing experience. And for me, very formative. It was a verbatim show about pornography, and as such there was no proper writing involved, but I was given the opportunity to lead some workshops and put the piece together, edit, arrange, be a dramaturg essentially. I don’t think any of us had worked on a piece like it before, so we were quite unsure about how it would be received. Then we got there and spoke to our audiences, saw we were getting some 5 star reviews, and it just took us aback. To be validated in that way is very intoxicating. It made me realize I wanted to make work, not just be in it.

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This Fringe you will be bringing You Down There and Me Up Here, can you tell us about the show?
Sam: I don’t want to just bash out the flyer blurb, but the quick pitch is it’s about two young men struggling to hang onto their identity in the face of crisis. One is a recovering heroin addict who is convinced he’s the rock star Nick Cave (and maybe he is) the other is a man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with someone while already being in a relationship. It follows their parallel journeys, their struggles to fulfil their desires, and how they change for the better or worse. It’s about the nature of truth, our expectations from life, how we see love and devotion, what it means to be obsessed with someone, and the difference between who we are and how we are seen.

Where did the idea come from for You Down There And Me Up Here?
Sam: The pair of us had been struggling with a direction for a few months, and then we experienced some work that seemed to point a way ahead-particularly ‘Sad Little Man’ by Pub Corner Poets and ‘Men In The Cities’ by Chris Goode. We wanted to make something lyrical, almost like prose-poetry, but also something cathartic, where we could try and crush a few of our own demons along the way.

Why Nick Cave?
Sam: We both love him. I think he’s extraordinary. And his music is equal parts violent and romantic, fevered and beautiful. It had to be someone we both idolized to an extent, for the basis of the show to work.

You’ve performed the play already this year in Norwich and London. How did it go & are you tweaking as you go along?
Sam: Yes we’ve tweaked, mainly in order to make the show say what it’s trying to say better, to be its best self. It’s been hugely educational both times. I’m personally very happy with the five shows we’ve so far done, and I think they will go to strengthen our performance at the Fringe. We’ve ironed out the cracks now, it’s tight and muscular and dynamic and ready for whatever Scotland throws us at us!

Do you & the cast socialize outside rehearsals?
Sam: Yes, excessively. To the point where we have already come up with some rules about not going straight to the pub after every show in Edinburgh.

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What do you hope an audience member will take away from the show?
Sam: It might frustrate them, it might confuse them, hopefully it will touch them on some level. It’s very wordy and dense at time but I really think fundamentally it’s got a huge, beating heart at the middle of it. So it would be nice if people see something of themselves in it. So far it’s always been a show people want to talk to us about, have questions about, want to unpick, and for me that’s a huge compliment. You want people nattering about it at the bar afterwards.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Sam: Well, I’d ask them if they’ve ever been in love with the wrong person? Whether they’ve ever treated someone close to them in a way they shouldn’t? Whether they’ve ever been unsure of who they are or what they really stand for in the world? And if I get a reluctant nod to any of those questions you can bet I’m shoving a flyer in their hand!

What will Sam Rees & We Talk of Horses be doing after the Fringe
Sam: Personally, I will be sleeping, eating some greens, earning back a bit more money. We’ve got some possible places we can take this show, but we’ve also got ideas coming out of our ears for the next one, and we’re still so young, so I reckon we’re going to try out as many different things as possible. It’s our time to learn, and fail and get better. And for making more friends along the way!


You Down There & Me Up Here

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Greenside Infirmary Street, Ivy Studio,
Aug 3-11 (16:05)

An Interview with Allison Hetzel

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Step Mama Drama!

Step Mama Drama! 2018 Fringe

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

Tickets: £8.00 (£5.00)

An Interview with Middle Weight Theatre

Middle Weight Theatre are bringing their ‘amendments: A Play on Words’ to the Fringe this August. The Mumble shared a wee chat with writer/performer, Matt Roberts, and director/performer, Tom Stabb.


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Tom Stabb

Hello lads, so where ya both from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Tom: Hello! Matt is originally from Cornwall, he studied in Exeter, Devon (where we met) and is now based in Bristol. I’m from and based In Exeter. So you can only imagine the type of arguments there are over who makes the better pasty.

When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
Tom: From a very early age. Both my parents were involved in theatre; my father was an actor/director and my mother a ballet teacher/choreographer. My house was continually packed with actors, dancers, stage hands and as a result was always full of creativity; there were constant rehearsals, debates and arguments over the latest Bafta or Tony award winner. I actually learnt to count by watching rehearsals of the ‘39 Lashes’ from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ It was inevitable there was going to be an influence. Or therapy…

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
Matt: Several years ago I was a singer in a metal band and someone told me there were auditions being held near me for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ They reckoned I’d make a good Judas, because it was a ‘rock’ musical. My natural rock tenor voice (and my tendancy to betray people) made me a perfect candidate. I got the part, I loved performing it and this lead to other acting roles over the subsequent years.

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What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Matt: For me, I want to be transported into the world of what I’m watching. I don’t want to sit in the audience and think ‘I’m currently watching a play;’ I want to be there thinking ‘I’m in their world.’ Ultimately, it’s about being immersed I guess. Also, I want to exit the theatre with residual thoughts and feelings – a good play should send you straight to the bar for a discussion, an argument or should at least prompt dialogue about the themes and psychodrama of what you’ve witnessed.

What do you like to do when you’re not being all theatrical?
Tom: I would love to give you a list of cool stuff to make myself sound all wind-swept and interesting, but honestly, the past three to four years have been consumed with establishing and maintaining the theatre company. Whether this is by going to watch other companies’ productions, talent scouting, learning new direction techniques, promoting or reading play after play after play, my interests are almost always work driven. I can do a good rendition of Eminen’s ‘Rap God’ or ‘A Modern Major General’ by Gilbert and Sullivan after a few glasses of wine; does this count?

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Matt: James Foley’s ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ and Alexander Mackendrick’s ‘The Sweet Smell of success.’ A close fourth would be ‘Noddy goes lap dancing.’ I can’t remember who directed it.

So Tom, how did you & Matt meet?
Tom: For a while I was a local music promotor around the Southwest. On several occasions I booked a heavy metal band that Matt was the vocalist for. They were such an outstanding group, I ended up muscling (and blackmailing) my way into being their bass player. We gigged and toured for over five years together, which (unsuspectingly at the time) developed into an on and off stage chemistry with regard to performance, comedy, writing, trust and, dare I say it, ethics… The band ran its course, but we have continued to collaborate on theatre projects ever since. Thus Middle-Weight Theatre Company was born.

Can you tell us about Middle-Weight?
Tom: It was jointly founded in 2013 by Matt and I, and the aim – from day one – was to maintain a high standard of entertainment expressed by a wide variety of talented actors through new and thought-provoking original writing. Along the way we have welcomed the crucial talents of Al Wadlan, Jemma Gillard and Chrissy Marshall in co-running the company. Everyone who has been involved in any of Middle-Weight’s productions, be it performing or behind the scenes, usually has a keen interest in discussing or debating current affairs and politics, which is why our new play ‘amendments: A Play on Words’ (about censorship and the devolution of language) has been such fun to produce.

 

Can you tell us more about this year’s play?
Matt: It’s basically about how our language is being profoundly diminished by the rampant political correctness currently infesting our society. Don’t get me wrong, I completely acknowledge that we need to have codes in place to ensure people and the groups those people are part of aren’t persecuted or victimised, by I’m worried that the populus is becoming so sensitive and have developed such a finely tuned sense of ‘offense’ that our language is becoming subject to so much prohibition and censorship that soon there will quite literally be nothing left to say.

Five years into the Middle-Weight experience, how have you changed as a person?
Tom: Interesting question. I have changed in the sense that I’ve rekindled an interest in embracing new methods and to be more pluralistic. Honestly – I’m a bit of a control freak and have a somewhat nervous disposition by nature, so gaining and developing new techniques and experiences has taught me to compose myself – when for example a piece of scenery we’ve spent weeks making doesn’t fit properly or a prop doesn’t arrive on time, I don’t tend to hit Matt in the face as my first response anymore – so there’s definite growth there.

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How would you describe your working relationship with Tom?
Matt: Tom is great to work with because he is one of the very few people I’ve met in my life who is thoroughly reliable. If he says he’ll do something, he actually does it, and that’s a rare commodity in a person. He’s also very patient, which is, considering my phenomenally large ego, quite important.

This will be your third time at the Fringe, can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Tom: Enchantingly exhausting.

As an actor, how will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Matt: If I’m sweating a lot, that’s usually a good sign.

Do you & Matt socialise outwith rehearsals?
Tom: No. We have a keen disdain for one another.

What will you guys be doing after the Fringe?
Matt: There will be a quick break (after a tour, Tom and I generally part with the mutual sentiment of ‘I don’t ever want to see you again’) and after which, it’ll be one of many potential projects. We have 3 new original plays to choose from, so we are delighted to know we will be busy until 2020!


amendments: A Play on Words

3rd-11th August (23:05) 
thespaceUK on NorthBridge 

BUY TICKETS HERE

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www.middleweighttheatrecompany.com

An Interview with Alice Sylvester

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


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

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

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

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three box set TV shows, what would they be?
Alice: Mad Men is probably my favourite show, Game of Thrones I can (and have) watched for ten consecutive hours, and then Sex and the City is the show I can annoyingly predict every sentence of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


How to Swim in Hollywood

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

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

www.thebathtubheroine.com

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

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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).

www.interactivetheatre.com.au