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.

Eden McDougall.jpg
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.

Pili Vergara.jpg
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.

Hannah Hughes.jpg
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!

BWitches_Mumble_Flyer Front.png

Jack Thomas headshot.jpg
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!


The Outhouse Bar

Aug 15-25 (14.00)

BWitches_Mumble_Flyer Front


An Interview with Chris Brannick


Sex, Love, Comedy, Drama & of course, Annie Lennox, all meet in a magical play from Death & the Dominatrix

Hello Chris, first things first, where are you & Karen from, & where are you at, geographically speaking?
It’s a long-distance working relationship – Karen’s in Huddersfield, I’m in London.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I want to think, but not to think I’m thinking. Not to be told to think. I want the author and the actors to slide in bits of thinking under my consciousness without me realising it.
I go to the theatre to be entertained, really.

Can you tell us about your experiences at last year’s Global Motion Picture Awards?
Surreal! I entered two screenplay competitions – I got to the quarter finals of the PAGE International Sceenplay, which is a biggie, and randomly entered another one for no reason I could think of. Then I got the email saying I’d won both Best Screenplay and Best Character Development. That was it. No Business Class flight to Los Angeles, no ticker-tape parade down Hollywood Boulevard – just the email. It’s great to have the recognition. Any writer will tell you how painful it can be to keep writing, not knowing whether anyone really rates or appreciates it. I could still have done with meeting Susan Sarandon, though.

head 2

Can you tell us about Two Foolish Productions & your role?
We put together Two Foolish Productions just as an experiment to take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe and three years on we’re still experimenting. I’ve got this not-so-guilty passion for the music of the 80s and I wanted to know whether I could write plays that would incorporate that. Get Fit With Bruce Willis was a title that randomly leapt into my mind one day. So far the plays have used the music of Jimmy Somerville, Marc Almond and Annie Lennox. We both like comedies that have a heart. Something that makes you care for the characters even as you’re laughing at them. We like our characters vulnerable. Karen’s a fabulous director and slave-driver, and she also has a great mind for plotting. I always say these plays are co-written but she doesn’t see that, as she never actually puts any words down on the page. She’s the organ grinder. I’m just the monkey.

You’re bringing a new play to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – can you tell us about it?
It’s a play about power and sex and love and disappointment. Karen plays an ageing Dominatrix who’s summoned to the afterlife by Death. But not death as we know it… he’s had a rebranding, now he’s more touchy-feely, more user-friendly. She’s a hard-nosed businesswoman, he’s a corporate suit. Turns out both these are just shells for the real person underneath.

What is it about being performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
I don’t think it’s about being ‘in front’ of people – the great thing about live theatre is that you’re in the room with them. We’re on a journey together and even though I’ve been through this journey many times – performances and rehearsals – I still want to make it fresh and real. That’s the challenge, and it’s great…

Comedy-drama is a difficult theatrical genre – what are the secret ingredients behind a good mix?
When we find out, we’ll let you know! You have to believe the characters. You have to believe that they’re always doing what they think is right, even if it’s a stupid idea. You know that cliché ‘act 1, force your character up a tree; act 2, throw stones at them; act 3, get them down’? That still holds, you just have to make the stones ridiculous and the tree preposterous. I really admire Richard Curtis (‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Love, Actually’ etc) even though I hate myself for admiring him. Every character has a gaping wound that he remorselessly exploits for drama. Comedy drama does that but just adds… err… comedy.


How much of the play’s main character, Maggie Taylor, is drawn from your own life?
Ha! How is a mini-skirted, thigh-length booted, corset-suited woman based on my life? Well… Karen and myself both enjoy talking about sex and we get an especial kick when we talk about it with younger people who seem to think that we should have forgotten about That Sort Of Thing since we’re both So Close To Death. So the fact that Maggie is unapologetic about being a Dominatrix and regards it as a perfectly valid career choice works for us. The relationship between Maggie and her impending death is also a chance to riff on existentialist themes. I like to think of myself as the Camus of BDSM. Sisyphus in high heels.

You premiered at this year’s Brighton Fringe – how did it go & have you tweaked the show since?
It went really well. We did small modifications during the run, but the time since then has allowed us to do bigger tweaks. Sadly our strongest discovery – that the title sucks – came too late to do anything about it for Edinburgh. We were already committed.

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together?
Quite often we’ve been in different continents. That’s quite challenging. Rehearsing by Skype doesn’t really allow you to practise prop setting (Karen’s biggest bugbear) though we got the lines crafted. The other big obstacle is common to every comedy writer – you never know whether a joke’s funny until the audience laughs. I’m devastated to have had to cut the original opening, which I loved… but nobody laughed. They were intrigued, but that’s not good enough at the start of a comedy.

How are you finding working with Karen Kirkup?
You call it ‘working with’, I call it ‘doing what I’m told’… It’s fab. She’s got such a good eye for structure, staging and plotting that I know I can come up with any idea, no matter how difficult to stage, and she’ll find a way round it. In Get Fit With Bruce Willis I wrote a nightmare scene in which she played four different characters all torturing my character. I think the script said ‘different hats, or whatever’, and I had absolute confidence that she’d either sort it out, or tell me why it was a bad idea dramatically.


Why are you using the songs of Annie Lennox and Eurythmics?
Get Fit With Bruce Willis was based around the songs of Jimmy Somerville and the groups he’s been in, because I look vaguely like him and I have a similar singing voice. Painted Love took on the songs of Marc Almond because I’ve always been a massive fan. That’s two male singers, time for a female one – and who is more iconic and evocative of 80s music than Annie Lennox? What a voice. What a stage presence.
We knew we’d got it right when almost everyone we mentioned it to had the same ‘ooh….’ reaction. We don’t try to imitate Annie (who could?), but the themes of her songs – empowerment, sexuality, love, vulnerability – all hit the dramatic spot.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
It’ll make you laugh. It’ll break your heart. How often do you get whips, wit and existentialism in the same play? It’s sexy and it’s got a fabulous Annie Lennox soundtrack. Death goes management-speak – ‘it’s not death, it’s a negative lifestyle outcome’. Where else can you get all that at 1pm?

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
Writing the next play! Provisional title is ‘Hit Me, Baby’ (guess where we’re going musically with that one…) and Karen plays a woman who decides to take up boxing in later life but gets mistaken for a hit-woman. She finds herself unexpectedly contracted to take out a hit on a man’s wife…

Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man

Sweet Novotel

Aug 19-25 (13:30)



An Interview with Russell Clarke

Russell Clarke Chain of Trivia headshot 1.jpg

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

When did you first realise you could write, & write well?
About ten years ago I was invited to write a half-hour contribution to a radio show in London on Pink Floyd and the response from the listeners was very, very positive so I was invited back the next week and every week after that. I’m all about the history of rock and roll and I always try and tell a story, rather than just give a whole loads of random facts. The BBC has a very dedicated audience and so word got round, especially the BBC and its local radio stations so I’ve pretty much been on every one talking about anything of rock and roll significance. I’m proud to say I am currently BBC Radio Berkshire’s go-to guy for anything rock and roll relayed. I may even be a household name in Reading!

Russell Clarke in action.jpg

Can you tell us about your literary output thus far?
I’ve written and presented over 300 pieces for the radio in the last ten years, mainly on BBC Radio London. I’ve tried to systematically tell the story of rock and roll in the UK from 1951 onwards so I’ve covered Lonnie Donegan and Tommy Steele, our earliest rock and roll stars all the way up to Acid House and Brit Pop, with everything inbetween: the Floyd, Zep, Stones and especially the Beatles. I’m a huge fan of the Beatles and there is so much to tell. A book can’t be far behind if I can find the time!

You are a transatlantic radio star – can you tell us more?
Through a few contacts, I came to the attention of a production company in San Francisco which specialises in putting together packaged shows for National Public Radio (NPR) in the USA, a bit like the BBC. When they’re doing something on rock and roll I get the call. If you think about it, some of America’s favourite music is British. They have deified the Beatles, the Stones and Led Zeppelin way more than we ever did, so they like a British accent and luckily they like mine. They put together a 12-15 minute package to tell the story and edit ion other people they have interviewed, so I can honestly say I appeared alongside Eric Clapton,. Pete Townshend and Anjelica Huston (though didn’t actually meet any of them).

What is it about Rock music that makes you buzz with so much enthusiasm?
I don’t know why but I find it as fascinating now as I did when I first saw T.Rex or Marvin Gaye on Top of the Pops when I was 9 years old. When I was at school, all the other kids got the Beano or Dandy every week; I got the New Musical Express and my best mate Pete got the Melody Maker so we swapped. Each week from the age of 11 to 18, I read two music papers a week and just had that kind of brain that could remember all the detail. I’m pretty useful in a Quiz Night, I have to say. But it goes hand in hand with the music. I bought my first single in 1972 and every time I got 40p I would buy another one. When I got more money I progressed the LPs. I had an overdraft of course when I left University, but it was because I bought so many records and not because I drank too much beer. Although I did drink a lot of beer at University.

Chain of Trivia A5 FLYER.jpg

Which of the Rock eras do you specialize in & why?
I confess it’s a little while since I kept an eye on the charts and I don’t buy a lot of new music – although my stepdaughter has made sure I know who Stormzy is – so I tend to specialise in just about anything before the mid-90s. I like the history or rock and roll and how it fits into its time. Rock and roll started in the mid-50s when after years of austerity and bombsites, young kids just thought we want something exciting and a bit exotic. And then Elvis Presley appeared with Heartbreak Hotel and kids were never the same again. The same thing happened in the 60s when the Beatles swept away all who came before with their songs and their energy. All of a sudden the World went from black and white to colour. The Seventies is my decade really, I was a teenager and came of age but what tumultuous times they were. If the music hadn’t been so good, I wonder how we would have got through them. The Eighties were just enormous fun.

What is it about doing your radio shows that you love the most?
I think it’s the opportunity to tell a story. I love all rock and roll and whilst I may not be a huge fan of someone’s music, I am almost certainly a fan of their story: where they came from, how they got a break, where they lived, where they made their records, all that kind of stuff. It’s also very rewarding when people write in and say how much they enjoyed the show and how much the music of whoever I’ve talked about means to them. It means I chose my subject well.

You’re stranded on a desert island for an indeterminate amount of time with only three albums & a solar-powered CD player – what would they be?
My All-Time Favourite Album of All-Time is The River by Bruce Springsteen, which I bought for £5.99 on the day it came out in 1980 and played to death for months after. I’ve never really tired of it to be honest, it’s rather timeless. ABC’s The Lexicon of Love is really about 1982 but I was a young guy, quite fancied myself in a gold lamé suit – we all did in 1982 – had the correct hair and let’s face it every track is a belter. Finally I’d have to have a Beatles album. They are our Civilisation’s favourite pop group, so I’d take a Greatest Hits collection or if that’s not allowed I’d take Revolver, their finest LP.

You’re debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
If I’m bringing anything it’s the enthusiasm I have for telling a story. We all know who Elvis Presley is and certainly what he became, but I tell his story from when he was a kid, how he accidentally invented rock and roll as we know it and became the biggest star in the world. I hope everyone else will be as amazed as I was when I managed to link Elvis to another internationally famous singer by just an awesome bit of trivia. I can’t tell you what it is, you’ll have to come to the show for that, but I’ll give you a clue: it’s something to do with his trousers. That’s just the start of the Chain of Trivia. We’ve got stories of Nobel prizes, lawsuits, radio bans and asteroids, all the way to Freddie Mercury and Queen ten steps later. At the very least, you’ll leave the show knowing a hundred things more than you did when you went in!

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting the show together?
I cant honestly think of any obstacles. We’ve been coming to the Fringe for years as punters and I had already developed this show which I’d done in London on several occasions and just thought it might work in Edinburgh. Once you’ve reached that point, you’ve got to find yourself a promoter/venue and you’re off. Luckily the guys at SpaceUK liked my pitch and we did a deal on the Surgeons Hall on Nicholson Street. I’ve seen all sorts of shows there over the years so I know the place well and can recommend their pizzas. I’m really looking forward to spending three weeks in this city. It’s just fabulous when the Fringe is on.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
You look intelligent, you look curious, you like rock and roll. Put all that together and find out things you never knew about some of the most significant rock and roll stars of the last 60 years, starting with Elvis. There’s more trivia than you can shake a stick at!


Chain of Trivia

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

2-10 (15.05) / 12-24 (13.05)

Chain of Trivia A5 FLYER


An Interview with Wannabe

'Wannabe - The Spice Girls Show' Edinburgh Fringe 2019 (20) photo by Keaton Chau.jpg

Girl Power never, ever went away & its soaring up to the Fringe

Gabbie Smith as 'Scary Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (1).jpg
Gabbie Smith as Scary Spice

Where, when & why did the idea for Wannabe happen?
Gabbie: When the show’s producers, Red Entertainment, had the idea of creating a show based on the Spice Girls phenomenon, we all attended auditions for the touring and international productions. I was subsequently cast as Scary – totally my favourite Spice Girl! – and spent five weeks rehearsing before our first tour dates in Spring 2019. The show has been open since 2017 then I joined this year and I can honestly say we’ve been having the best time onstage.
Rhiannon: Like the other girls I auditioned for the show and when I got the part of Sporty I was beside myself! I was obsessed with Sporty when I was growing up and I so wanted to be like her I joined a gym club so I could learn to do her backflips! We’ve all got to know each other really well and we’ve become really good friends as well as professional colleagues. It’s a dream job!

Lucy Claire as 'Baby Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (2).jpg
Lucy Claire as Baby Spice

Have any of the original Spice Girls seen the show, & if so how did they take it?
Lucy: Geri Halliwell has watched a video of us and liked it, not sure about the other girls – and if any of them came to see the show that would be amazing! We’d be honoured!

How are the audiences reacting to the return of the Spice Girls?
Natalie: Well from audience reactions to our recent tour dates of ‘Wannabe’ I think we can say they really love the show! Our upcoming run at the Assembly Rooms will be the show’s first time at the Fringe and we’re all really looking forward to it; we performed at the Edinburgh Playhouse back in March as part of our UK tour dates, and it went down really well. Of course we don’t want people to get confused and think we’re the actual Spice Girls! We’re all stage performers playing the roles of each Spice Girl!

You’ve been touring the show extensively, how has that been?
Melissa: Amazing! Audiences are really up for it – we get loads of different people at the shows – lifelong Spice Girls fans with their own little daughters, guys and girls, groups and solos and definitely all ages. They’re very familiar with the songs and as soon as the intro starts up – like with Say You’ll Be There at the beginning of the show, you hear the audience roar with excitement! I get such a buzz from the audience’s reaction and their anticipation of a great night out that it just flows onto the stage and gives us all a huge burst of amazing energy – it’s an amazing feeling.

You’ve performed with both Take That on their Progress Tour & Boyzone on their A Different Beat Tour – did mixing with boyband royalty set you up for starring in the female version?
Gabbie: Definitely! Dancing onstage with Boyzone and then Take That was an incredible experience. I’d always loved boy bands – and girl bands – and having the opportunity to perform in such enormously popular shows so early on in my career inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue musical theatre as a career.

Melissa Potts as 'Posh Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (3).jpg
Melissa Potts as Posh Spice

Wannabe is receiving a great deal of critical popular & acclaim – how does that make you feel?
Melissa: It’s the BEST feeling! And it makes me feel even more excited about performing in the show at this year’s Fringe. It’s a huge privilege to be performing the role of Posh – I admire her so much personally and professionally – and I get to strut around the stage in a little black dress!

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about the show & your role?
Lucy: Yes, I can’t wait! I play Baby Spice in the show Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show which is a really fun, high energy show about Spiceworld, Girl Power and all those brilliant hit songs. Baby Spice was always my favourite Spice Girl when I was growing up – she’s fabulous, flirty and fun and her sweet character brings so much energy and life to the line-up. And I love her hair – those pigtails! I always loved the way she sang too – she can sing a ballad and then rock-out on a big pop song without batting an eyelash!

Wannabe Edinburgh Fringe flyer.jpg

What songs have we to expect from the show?
Melissa: We’ve got a great mix of the Spice Girls biggest hits including Say You’ll Be There, Who Do You Think You Are, Wannabe, Stop, Viva Forever and some of the band’s best solos are in the show too such as I Turn To You which was sung by Mel C, For Once In My Life from Mel B’s album, and It’s Raining Men which Natalie, as Geri, does brilliantly!

Rhiannon Porter as 'Scary Spice' photo by Rhian Cox.jpg
Rhiannon Porter as Sporty Spice

How will you be spending your month in Edinburgh, away from Wannabe?
Rhiannon: Ooh, I’ve got loads of plans for my days off… I want to catch lots of other shows and I really want to take a tour around the Edinburgh Dungeon where there’s a new exhibition about the notorious 19th century bodysnatchers, Burke & Hare and…obviously a whisky tour… or two!
Lucy: We all get on brilliantly – we really got to know each other during the rehearsal period which we dubbed ‘Spice Academy’ and I think it’s safe to say we’ve become really good friends. For instance, we’ve got similar ideas of what we’d like to do in Edinburgh outside our own shows – some of which includes climbing up to Arthur’s Seat – and so we’ll go and do stuff together. It’s all very relaxed and great fun being with the other girls.

You know a good show when it’s happened, what are the special ingredients?
Gabbie: I think it’s really important to deliver a top-quality show that will entertain audiences and give them value for money. We want to give audiences a fun, entertaining experience so that they have as brilliant a time as we do and send them home happy! For me the special ingredients are about connecting with the audience through our characters, the story and our onstage chat – which is generally great fun and really engages the audience’s response. We also have a great time together onstage and I think that comes across to the audience.

Natalie Gray as 'Ginger Spice' photo by Rhian Cox (4).jpg
Natalie Gray as Ginger Spice

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Natalie: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show is a journey through the music of the Spice Girls, Spice World and Girl Power which is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago! Say You’ll Be There!

What will you & the girls be doing for the rest of 2019?
Rhiannon: After Edinburgh we’re having a week off then we’re going back on tour in September, October and November. We then have a break over Christmas and the new year and we’ll be back on the road in February 2020 through to the summer.

What are your top three personal highlights in the show?
Natalie: Oooh, just three?! Ok – well one is our fantastic jazz version of Too Much which involves some very cool choreography by our choreographer Becky Jeffrey. She’s created some great moves for us and has absolutely nailed the 90s moves but with her own modern twist. The second one is being able to wear a dress like Ginger Spice’s iconic Union Jack dress which for me is a costume highlight! And the third is sharing a stage with four amazing girls and singing all about GIRL POWER – in sequins, obviously!

Wannabe: The Spice Girls Show

Assembly Rooms

Aug 1-24 (22:35)

Wannabe Edinburgh Fringe flyer



An Interview with Middle-Weight Theatre


Middle-Weight are masters of language AND drama, & when they combine them the results are sublime

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.

Hello Matt, so 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.


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…

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 Eminem’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.


How did you & Matt meet?
Tom: For a while I was a local music promoter 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.

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.

Can you tell us more 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 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.

Six 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, 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.

1. EdinburghPoster.jpg

This Fringe you will be bringing ‘amendments – A Play on Words’ to Edinburgh, can you tell us about it?
Matt: It’s 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.

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

What will you guys be doing after the Fringe?
Tom: There will be a very quick break, (after a tour, Matt and I generally part with the mutual sentiment of ‘I don’t ever want to see you again’, which usually lasts about a week, until we get bored). Whilst we’re touring and in that ‘creative mind-set’ we tend to write new material on-the-go, and so it was originally planned to put this show to bed and start rehearsals / production for one of at least three new-writing scripts we have to choose from. However, we have been touring ‘amendments’ close to a year now and the audience / press reaction has been so encouraging, we’ve decided to extend the run into 2020. So, for any producers out there – get in touch!

amendments: A Play On Words

TheSpaceUK@ Northbridge

Aug 19-24 (21:35)

1. EdinburghPoster