Whats on at Edfringe 2017

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Luke Barnes Interview: ‘There are some writers who write two or three plays for big stages each year and they say fucking nothing.’

Luke Barnes, aka one of the most important theatre voices of his generation. Read on please.

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Luke Barnes

A man who’s not afraid to talk openly and honestly about real issues –  success,  failure, this fuck up of a government etc – while also knocking out high-quality writing.

Basically, okay, Middle Child is a company based in Hull and they cooked up All We Ever Wanted Was Everything for the UK City of Culture programme. The remarkable show was part of the Edinburgh Paines Plough’s Roundabout season at Summerhall. Think of it as a melding-together of a play (written by Luke) and a gig (with music composed by James Frewer). All We Ever Wanted charts Thatcher’s reign, through the Blair era and right up to the present day. The subject matter is a scorching dissection of consumerism. Really great.

We are talking at the Fringe, the day after I have seen the 75-minute spectacle.

It feels like a very 2017 show, I say. “I set out to make something that was quintessentially for our generation. Something that is made in a way that our generation can consume. The response has been what we’d hoped it would be, we’re really happy with it,” he smiles.

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He describes the lessons that he learned when writing the story. “The most important thing I have learned from making this show is: Hull Capital Culture. Hull, pre-this, was a city living in a shadow of itself, you’d go to there and everybody would be like ‘it’s shit but we love it’,” he says. “Invest money and time into a city like that and you’ve suddenly got an active community and a model you’ve given artists licence to be themselves and make work with breadth and scope.”

“It goes to show Arts Council England moving money out into the regions pays dividends. We can’t sustain a culture of artists having to go to London and needing their work seen there to make it. It’s about telling stories and finding partners to tell those stories,” he says.

Does he think enough writers speak up about politics? “Politics for James Graham means something very different than politics to Rachel De-lahay. What I try to do is articulate how politics affect everyday lives and our actual tangible existence,” says Barnes.

“I read something by Edward Bond recently where he says that a playwright’s duty is to record this moment in time, how this moment feels.” He continues. “A lot of playwrights of my generation try to write plays that are abject of time in the hope that they’ll be revived in the future or have life in Germany. For me, that’s not enough,” he shrugs.

‘FYI’ Barnes spent several years acting in the biggest television show on the planet: Game of Thrones.

So how does he handle success and failure ? “I think the lesson I learned was to surround myself with people who don’t necessarily work in theatre,” he declares.

“My mates all do normal jobs. It wasn’t until I left the show I realised that everyone had gone. It’s really fun having highs and lows but what you want is constant middles that are always going to be there.”

So what is next, post Edinburgh? “My play called ‘No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution’ is on at the Hampstead Theatre, Downstairs. We’ve started rehearsals and I’m really excited…. It’s sort of like an archaic storytelling piece about a family that move to a new money town, being a teenager and fighting for acceptance; irrespective of your background,” he says.

CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR COPY OF ‘ALL WE EVER WANTED’ SCRIPT

“There’s a finite number of theatres in England. You can’t hit all those theatres over five years”, he announces. “There are some writers who write two or three plays for big stages each year and they say fucking nothing; if you don’t live a normal life how can you engage the world?”

No One Will Tell Me How To Start A Revolution is on at Hampstead theatre, Downstairs, London, until 21 Oct.

Box office: 020-7722 9301.

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Pleasance launches in-house award, The Indies!

The Indies are here

The Pleasance Theatre Trust celebrates its 33 years at Venue 33 with a new award, “The Indies”.

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In its 33rd year in Venue 33 on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Pleasance Theatre Trust is proud to launch The Indies, a new award celebrating the best shows at the Pleasance as voted by the companies and artists themselves.

The categories for The Indies are as follows:

Best Show Categories

Celebrating excellence across the programme as a whole.

Best Comedy, Cabaret or Variety Show

Best Theatre, Family, Music or Dance Show

Newcomer Categories

Highlighting companies and acts bringing their first full show to The Pleasance.

Best Comedy Cabaret or Variety Newcomer

Best Theatre, Family, Music or Dance Newcomer

Miscellaneous Categories

Best Poster Design

Spirit Of The Pleasance

Each company in the Pleasance programme can cast a single set of votes in the category relating to their own genre.

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The Indies highlight not only the best in Pleasance’s comedy and theatre programmes but shine a light on Festival newcomers, staying true to the Pleasance’s mission of supporting new talent in the arts industry. The Award also recognises the best poster design and gives a special recognition to a company who showcased the Spirit Of The Pleasance by going out of their way to help another company or act. This spirit is reflected in the Awards themselves, encouraging companies to celebrate the work of their peers.

The Award is named after Christopher Richardson’s (founder of the Pleasance) beloved dog Indie.

Anthony Alderson, Director of the Pleasance said:

“I’m delighted to announce the Pleasance Indies in our 33rd year. Cultivating a supportive environment where ideas can be realised to their fullest potential has always been a cornerstone of the Pleasance’s mission and the introduction of these awards is a perfect way to both promote this sense of community amongst our artists and celebrate the wealth of creativity in our programme.”

Winners of The Indies will be announced on the Pleasance Twitter (@ThePleasance) account today (Thursday, 24 August) at 3pm.

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Edinburgh Festivals Diary: Day 6

Edfringe Festival Diary-Day 6

It’s 9.45am at Hotel Du Vin, Edinburgh and I am having a coffee with the Times Theatre critic: Ann Treneman. Ann was the Times political sketch writer for 12 years. We are talking about navigating the wonderful arena of theatre.

‘The theatre world is much crazier than the world of politics… Seriously,’ she tells me.

‘Amazing. We must go out for a drink before I fly home,’ I said.

‘Some of us have reviews to write, Carl,’ she replied with a smile.

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Ann Treneman

We talked about the various things, shows we’d seen etc, etc and so on.

‘Well, I always think of that terrific Michelle Obama quote: ‘When they go low, we go high,’ she smiles. 

I made my way over to the Traverse for Gary McNair’s one-man piece about the writer’s teen years when he chose Morrissey as a confidante. Letters to Morrissey is the theatre equivalent of a chunky chocolate bar. The audience was mostly male and mostly 25 to 44-years old. I can’t remember much else to be honest.

I head over to Pleasance for Cardboard Citizens’ remarkable version of the TV drama ‘Cathy’. Beautifully written by Ali Taylor, ‘Cathy’ is a new forum theatre show which looks at how life might be like today for the protagonist of Cathy Come Home. The show speaks stridently and is one with that comes with a pain at its heart.

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Cirkopolis / Letters to Morrissey

I check my emails.

‘This looks like the kind of thing you’d like to crash,’ it read.

Attached was an invitation to the 2017 Federation of Scottish Theatre – Festivals Reception on Tuesday 22 August at 5.30pm at Dynamic Earth. It soon became clear that Scotland has got it right. The level of joined-up thinking and networking in the room was palpable: bringing the sector together and starting proper conversations. Brilliant.

After giving up on Google maps in this city I finally arrive at the EICC for Quebec company Cirque Éloize take on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Cirkopolis is never less than interesting. Dazzling acrobatics build up a remarkable parade of imagery, yet this lively show never quite touches the heart. ‘Entertaining’, is how I would describe this show. In an ideal world, the music wouldn’t be so loud, but nothing in life is ideal.

WHO DOESN’T LOVE ACCESSIBLE CIRCUS.

Anyway, the last show of my Edinburgh Fringe was Toxic Avenger at Pleasance Courtyard. I loved this show at Southwark Playhouse. I didn’t in Edinburgh. The cast are seriously talented and I think it’s the perfect venue and time slot, the show still boasts exquisite performances and is still really well sung. Hopefully some of the dumbed-down changes will be reversed, which includes but is not limited to squirting the audience with a water pistol.

This was my third time in Edinburgh and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city so busy.

I’ve had a terrific time but now I must go. 

Thank you to the beautiful people of Edinburgh who treated me with such equanimity and friendliness. To all, great thanks.

I’ll be back…

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR LETTERS TO MORRISSEY 

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR CATHY

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR CIRKOPOLIS

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR  TOXIC AVENGER

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Edinburgh Fringe, Tago Korean Drum, Interview: “Our music is very sexy, intense, and sophisticated!”

TAGO Korean Drum II live
TAGO Korean Drum II live

TAGO Korean Drum II live

TAGO return to The Fringe 2017 with a new show which follows their enormously popular and successful Fringe debut last year.

‘FYI’ TAGO means ‘lighting up the world by beating drums’ and this young ensemble achieves it with a spectacular mixture of Korean traditional instruments – from gigantic drums to small percussion instruments – spiced up with extravagant martial arts movement.  TAGO’s performances are a masterful display of thrilling percussion and precisely choreographed movement that has wide audience appeal.

TAGO Korean Drum II live shot 4 players

TAGO Korean Drum II live shot 4 players

TAGO – KOREAN DRUM II is one of a collection of Korean shows at the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe supported by Korean Arts Management Service (KAMS), an affiliate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Korea. The collection, which consists of MEDEA on media, Behind the Mirror, TAGO: Korean Drum, Mind Goblin and SNAP is part of Korea/UK 2017-18 presented by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, a year-long cultural exchange in partnership with leading British cultural institutions, set to bring the best of Korean art to the UK.

I thought it would be nice to talk to TAGO master drummer Kim Si-Won. I was right. It was quite nice.

Here is what happened.

Hi! Can you describe TAGO KOREAN DRUM?
TAGO master drummer Kim Si-Won:  Our music is very sexy, intense, and sophisticated!  Korean drums play an important part in traditional Korean music; it’s an art that has been passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years.  In TAGO we harness our traditional music with a more modern touch combining traditional Korean instruments – from gigantic drums to small percussion – with some exciting martial arts moves!  And we wanted to break the assumption that all drums are round so we’ve built a square drum and put strings and a wooden keyboard on it so it takes four of us to play it!

Performers are always busy rehearsing, preparing or performing; how do you relax?
That’s a good question Mr Carl!  We actually practise for 3-4 hours a day because you have to constantly develop strength and technique to play the drums…but we love to find new places to eat, drink and relax.  Edinburgh has some great bars and we’re looking forward to trying out some malt whiskies.

You recently took part in the London Korean Festival. How did audiences respond?
It was absolutely amazing!  We performed a 30 minute set against a colourful backdrop and the audience were dancing and cheering.  The Kensington Olympia venue is gigantic and the sound of our drums was perfect for the big acoustics.  They also had lots of Korean food stands so we felt right at home.  We signed lots of autographs too and did many selfies with audience members.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Performing abroad, definitely!

How would you like this show to be remembered?
As a big, exciting and sexy show!  Also we would like people to enjoy the sounds of the different drums and percussion instruments, some of which you can only see if you come to Korea.

What do you like most about the city of Edinburgh?
The people are so friendly and the beer is great!  When we performed for the first time in 2016, we didn’t realise there were so many shows on – some of our Korean friends are here with their own shows – magic, illusion, dance, music – and we’re hoping to go and support some of them.  Last year we had to buy umbrellas…

TAGO Ho-goon Hyun on the big drum photo by Young Kyong

With the costs of putting on a show – what would be your advice for other international companies that want to bring work to Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
Don’t pack too much!  We send our biggest drums in advance and we take the smaller items on the plane with our luggage.  We could easily bring more then end up not playing them all – so, rather than have a big choice of instruments, we perform a specially designed international show that we know we can deliver.  If you try to pack everything, you can easily run out of money.

What is the Korean Arts scene like?
Really vibrant and diverse. The art of drumming has been around for centuries and you have to be very dedicated to train for many years before you can perform professionally.  Drummers usually started training intensely from the age of 10.  The K-Pop scene is huge now – Korean pop music – and young audiences are moving away from traditional art forms which is why our show is a combination of old and new.  Also the phenomenon of magic and illusion shows is very new to Korea and very popular and the Korean National Ballet (since 1993) is also very cool with people who like ballet.

What do you think audiences enjoy most about your work?
I think people really dig the huge sound of the drums – the sound really fills any performance space and it’s exciting to experience.  I think they also like our combination of drumming and martial arts moves – it’s a really hard thing to learn but very satisfying when you hear the audience cheering!

Are there any shows you are looking forward to seeing?
We are hoping to check out some comedy shows – we didn’t have chance last year – so we’re going to try and see Kwame Asante who we hear is a doctor as well as a comedian and our friends in the Korean magic show Snap which is also very funny.

 What is the most rewarding part of being a performer?
Being up there onstage with my friends is the best – we all met at university and set up Tago nearly 15 years ago.

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London cast and Edinburgh transfer announced for Nassim at the Bush Theatre Studio

Nassim at the Bush Theatre 25 - 29 July 2017
Nassim at the Bush Theatre 25 - 29 July 2017

Nassim at the Bush Theatre 25 – 29 July 2017

The Bush Theatre has announced that their production of Nassim written by Nassim Soleimanpour (While Rabbit Red Rabbit) and directed by Bush Theatre Associate Director Omar Elerian (One Cold Dark Night, Islands) will transfer to the Traverse Theatre for a full run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. Nassim’s new play Nassim will preview at the Bush Theatre Studio from 25 – 29 July before opening at the Traverse on 3 August, with a press night on 4 August.

Casting is also announced today for the London run of Nassim. For each performance across the run, a different cultural figure will join Nassim on stage to perform his new work. Performers will include: British-Egyptian actor and activist Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, United 93), actor Vivienne Acheampong (City of Glass, Rainbow Class), playwright and screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell (Apologia, Woman in Gold), director Phelim McDermott (Akhnaten, A Christmas Carol), writer and performer Sabrina Mahfouz (With a Little Bit of Luck, Breaking the Code) and actor Hattie Morahan (Anatomy of a Suicide, A Doll’s House). Casting for the Edinburgh run to be announced.

Nassim Soleimanpour’s audacious theatrical experiment explores the power of language to unite us in unknown, uncertain times. Nassim is the Iranian playwright’s second play to receive its UK Premiere at the Bush Theatre. The first, BLANK, was produced as part of the Bush Theatre’s annual new writing festival, RADAR, in 2015. This will be the Bush Theatre’s first production to transfer to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall in 2009.

Dear performer. I want to show you something. Did you know, in Farsi my name is written like this:  ‘.ROUPNAMIELOS MISSAN si eman yM’

No rehearsals. No preparation. Just a sealed envelope and an actor reading a script for the first time.

Nassim follows Soleimanpour’s globally acclaimed White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which has been translated into 15 different languages and performed over 1000 times by some of the biggest names in theatre and film including Sinead Cusack, Ken Loach and Whoopi Goldberg. It had already been performed hundreds of times in more than a dozen languages by 2013 when Soleimanpour was first permitted to travel outside his native Tehran.

Nassim a Bush Theatre commission – is written by Nassim Soleimanpour, directed by Omar Elerian and designed by Rhys Jarman. Lighting design is by Rajiv Pattani with sound design by James Swadlo.

Khalid Abdalla (performer) is a British-Egyptian actor and activist. Notable film credits include The Kite Runner and United 93. Further film work includes Assassin’s Creed, Our Kind of Traitor, In the Last Days of the City, Tigers and Green Zone. He is a founding member of the Mosireen Collective of Egyptian filmmakers, focusing on documenting the events leading up to and following the 2011 revolution in Cairo. He himself has starred in and produced several documentaries, including The Square, which won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award.

Vivienne Acheampong (performer) recently completed her run in City of Glass at the Lyric Hammersmith. She returns to the Bush Theatre following her one woman show Rainbow Class (RADAR 2015) which she later took to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Further stage credits include Monster Raving Loony (Soho Theatre), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (West End), Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (First Light Theatre/ West End) and Julius Caesar (St. Ann’s Warehouse).

Alexi Kaye Campbell (performer) was born and brought up in Athens, Greece, then trained as an actor in London and New York. He appeared in several television series before turning to writing. He returns to the Bush Theatre following his play Apologia, a revival of which is currently running in the West End. Other writing credits for the stage include Sunset at the Villa Thalia (National Theatre), Bracken Moor (Shared Experience/ Tricycle Theatre) and The Faith Machine and The Pride (both Royal Court). He recently wrote his first film, Woman in Gold, which was directed by Simon Curtis and featured Dame Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

Phelim McDermott (performer) is most widely-known as an award-winning theatre and opera director. He is a founding member of theatre company Improbable and collaborates regularly with ENO and Metropolitan Opera, New York. Notable directing credits include Akhnaten (ENO) which won the Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production, A Christmas Carol (West End), The Enchanted Island (Met Opera), The Addams Family (Broadway), Philip Glass’s Satyagraha and Così fan tutte (Improbable/ ENO/ Met Opera) and Shockheaded Peter (West Yorkshire Playhouse/ Lyric Hammersmith/ West End/ Little Schubert Theatre, Off Broadway/ World Tour) which won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. Further productions with Improbable include Lost Without Words and Theatre of Blood (National Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (Young Vic), The Hanging ManCinderella (Lyric Hammersmith), Lifegame and the multi-award-winning 70 Hill Lane. He has a longstanding interest in using improvisation in rehearsals and performance, and is a regular improvising guest with the Comedy Store Players.

Sabrina Mahfouz (performer) was raised in London and Cairo. She is a playwright, performer, poet and screenwriter. She returns to the Bush Theatre following productions of her plays Battleface and Dry Ice. Further writing for the stage includes With a Little Bit of Luck (Paines Plough), SLUG (Nabokov), The Love I Feel is Red (Tobacco Factory Theatre), Chef (Underbelly at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe/ Soho Theatre) and Clean (Traverse Theatre). She is also known for her poetry collection How You Might Know Me and the literary anthology The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write. She created the television series Breaking the Code and further work with the BBC includes, Railway Nation: A Journey In Verse and We Are Here.

Hattie Morahan (performer) won the Best Actress Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Nora in A Doll’s House (Young Vic).  She returns to the Bush Theatre following her performance of Nassim’s BLANK (RADAR 2015). Further stage credits include Anatomy of a Suicide and The City (Royal Court), The Changeling (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), The Dark Earth and the Light Sky (Almeida Theatre), Plenty (Sheffield Crucible), The Real Thing (Old Vic), The Seagull, Three More Sleepless Nights, Time and the Conways, Some Trace of Her, Iphigenia at Aulis and Power (all National Theatre) and Family Reunion (Donmar Warehouse). On television she is best known for her roles in My Mother and Other Strangers, The Outcast, Ballot Monkeys, Arthur & George, Outnumbered, Eternal Law, Money, The Bletchley Circle, Marple, Sense and Sensibility and Bodies. She appeared as the Enchantress in the recent Disney film Beauty and the Beast. Other film credits include Alice Through The Looking Glass, Mr Holmes, Summer in February and The Golden Compass.

Nassim Soleimanpour (playwright and performer) is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker best known for his multi award-winning play White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Nassim’s play BLANK premiered in the UK at the Bush Theatre’s RADAR festival in 2015, also playing in Amsterdam and Utrecht with further performances all over the world including in Argentina, Australia and India. Further plays include Blind Hamlet which premiered at LIFT Festival 2014 prior to a UK tour and productions in Bucharest and Copenhagen. Nassim now lives in Berlin and has been commissioned to write a new play for Teater Momentum (Denmark).

Omar Elerian (director) is Associate Director at the Bush Theatre where he directed One Cold Dark Night by Nancy Harris and Islands by Caroline Horton. He also co-directed the Olivier nominated You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy at the Bush Theatre alongside Daniel Goldman. He was also Associate Director on The Royale by Marco Ramirez, Perseverance Drive by Robin Soans and Chalet Lines by Lee Mattinson. Other directing credits include acclaimed site-specific production The Mill – City of Dreams (Bradford, Yorkshire), Testa di Rame (Festival Inequilibrio, Italy) and Les P’tites Grandes Choses (Maison de Arts du Cirque et du Clown, France).

Rhys Jarman (Designer) previously designed the set for MONEY: The Game Show at the Bush Theatre. He was one of the winners of the 2007 Linbury Biennial Prize, for his design of Varjak Paw for the Opera Group.  Further stage design credits include James and the Giant Peach and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Northern Stage), The Time of Your Life (Gecko/ Battersea Arts Centre/ BBC), The Dreamer (Gecko/ Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre), The Machine Stops (Pilot Theatre/ York Theatre Royal), Hurling Rubble at the Sun, Hurling Rubble at the Moon (Red Ladder Theatre Company/ Park Theatre), Institute and Missing (both Gecko/ World Tours), The Nutcracker (Nuffield Theatre), Holes (Edinburgh Festival Fringe/ Arcola Theatre) and Three Way (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Forthcoming work includes Alice in Wonderland (Northern Stage), How I Hacked My Way to Space (Unlimited Theatre) and The Wedding (Gecko). He also designs work for outdoor events, opera and television.

Bush Theatre Studio
25 – 29 July
Traverse 2, Traverse Theatre
3 – 27 August

Press Night 4 August, 4pm

LISTINGS

25 – 29 July, Bush Theatre Studio
3 – 27 August, Traverse 2, Traverse Theatre
NASSIM
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour
Directed by Omar Elerian
Designed by Rhys Jarman
Press night: 4 August, 4pm, Traverse 2, Traverse Theatre
TICKET PRICES

Count Me In: £10 (Theatre)

Adult: From £20 (Theatre) and £10 (Studio)

Count Me In tickets are just £10 and are available for performances in the Theatre. These are unreserved tickets which will be allocated to a seat on the day of performance. Audience members might not be sitting next to the people they booked with but will be guaranteed a seat.

Concessions: Bush Locals, Senior Citizens, Disabled and Unemployed patrons, and Bush Connect (Students and U26) members will be eligible for concession prices.

Booking
Phone: 020 8743 5050
In person:   Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ
Online: bushtheatre.co.uk

Traverse Theatre
Adult:
£19.50 (£13/ £9 previews)
Concessions: £14.50/ £9.50

Booking
Phone: 0131 228 1404
In person: 10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh EH1 2ED
Online: www.traverse.co.uk

ALSO AT THE BUSH THEATRE IN 2017

15 Jun – 22 Jul
HIR
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Taylor Mac
Directed by Nadia Fall
Designed by Ben Stones
Lighting Designed by Eliott Griggs
Sound Designed by Elena Peña
Press night: 20 June, 7pm
Captioned: 7 Jul, 7.30pm
Audio described: 15 Jul, 2.30pm
26 – 28 July at 7.45pm, Bush Theatre Attic
3-27 August (not 14 August) at 6pm, Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly)
THE B*EASTS
A Monica Dolan and Something for the Weekend production
Written and performed by Monica Dolan
Directed by John Hoggarth
Designed by James Button
Produced by Suzanna Rosenthal for Something for the Weekend
Press are welcome to attend from 4 August, Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly)

20 Sep – 21 Oct
RAMONA TELLS JIM
A Bush Theatre production
Written by Sophie Wu
Directed by Mel Hillyard
Press night: 22 Sep, 7pm
Captioned: 13 Oct, 7.45pm
Audio described: 7 Oct, 2.45pm

18 Oct – 25 Nov
OF KITH AND KIN
A Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres co-production
Written by Chris Thompson
Directed by Robert Hastie
Designed by James Perkins
Press night: 20 Oct, 7pm
Captioned: 3 Nov, 7.30pm
Audio described: 11 Nov, 2.30pm

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Assembly Announce the First Winner of the Assembly Roxy Theatre (ART) Award, Andy Edwards and Amy Gilmartin, to present Scribble at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017

Assembly Festival has announced the first winner of the brand-new Assembly Roxy Theatre (ART) Award for developing Scottish performance companiesat the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


Andy Edwards is a playwright and performer based in Glasgow who makes work about language and mental health. His new play Scribble is an attempt to understand the intersections between mental health, disability and the author’s own ethnicity, gender and class.

Bran flakes, anxiety and gravity. The smallest moments in history and the largest events in the universe. A thought and a supernova. Blink and you’ll miss it. A scribble from the chest. Scribble is a new work about what it means to have mental health.

In 2016 Andy was mentored by Playwright’s Studio Scotland to develop a new piece of work, supervised by Rob Drummond. Scribble is the result of that. It was awarded a Small Grant Award from the Tom McGrath Trust and directed by Amy Gilmartin as a rehearsed reading at the Traverse Hothouse showcase in November.

Andy’s first play Killing Time was performed at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, receiving four star reviews from FEST, Three Weeks and the Edinburgh Evening News. Since graduating with Distinction in MLitt Playwriting and Dramaturgy at the University of Glasgow, Andy has presented work with galleries, heritage organisations and theatres as a playwright, performer and digital artist.

Amy Gilmartin is a freelance theatre director, who focuses on directing and developing new writing, and Co-Artistic Director of emerging company Urban Fox Theatre.  She has directed three productions at the Edinburgh Fringe with Urban Fox Theatre; Globophobia (which was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Club Award), Safeword and Heartlands (which received six four star reviews). Her freelance directing work includes Warrior, a play exploring modern Sectarian themes, which has extensively toured schools, community centres and theatres, including the Citizens Theatre, since 2014. Amy also assisted Orla O’Loughlin on Milk at the Traverse Theatre in the 2016 Festival, where she is now employed as a script reader and has directed as part of development performances. She is currently the assistant director on Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery, a co-production with Grid Iron, Lung Ha Theatre Company, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.

Andy and Amy will receive up to £5,500 worth of support, including Fringe and Joint Venue Brochure registration fees, rehearsal space, and development and promotional support. Scribble will be presented at Roxy Downstairs as part of Assembly 2017 in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Playwright Andy Edwards and director Amy Gilmartin said, “Andy and I are thrilled and honoured to be selected as the winners of the first ART award! We are so excited that we are able to bring Scribble to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, under the support and guidance of Assembly.  Scribble explores mental health in a brave and unique way and I am delighted that Assembly are giving us the opportunity to share the playwith a Fringe audience.  As emerging artists in Scotland, without this award, we would not be able to present our work this year.  We’ve got lots of hard work ahead of us and we simply can’t wait!”

William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director of Assembly said“We received some really terrific applications for the ART Award and we are excited to have engaged with so many fresh and exciting new creative voices in Scotland. We are delighted to have selected Andy Edwards’ new work Scribble directed by Amy Gilmartin to receive the first ART Award and look forward to supporting its development and profile at the Fringe this summer as part of the Assembly Festival programme. Mental health is a key issue for all areas of society, young and old, and theatre is proving itself to be an important forum to openly explore this complex and personal subject. The script is written in a really interesting graphic way which leaps off the page and shows great promise as a production.

“The Fringe offers one of the most challenging but potentially life changing opportunities for emerging theatre makers and we’re pleased to offer Andy and Amy an opportunity to make that step within the supporting framework of one of the Fringe’s most well-regarded presenters.”

A number of new and established Scottish playwrights and theatre companies have made Assembly their home over previous Edinburgh Festival Fringes including Vanishing Point, Stellar Quines, In Your Face, Nonsense Room Productions, Lickety Spit Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland.

Assembly Festival is the longest running multi-venue operator at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The organisation is based in Edinburgh all year round at the Assembly Roxy, where it hosts theatre, music, comedy and events. Assembly also tours the best of its program, including the multi award winning Nirbhaya, which premiered at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe before touring to London’s Southbank Centre, New York, Canada, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Assembly Festival pride themselves on putting the world’s best talent on stage in Edinburgh, and beyond.

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James Seager: Les Enfants Terribles’ Producer on Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the LET Awards and more

James Seager
James Seager

James Seager

James Seager and Oliver Lansley are the masterminds behind Les Enfants Terribles. Their previous work includes multi-award-winning, international stage shows, including Dinner at the Twits, Alice’s Adventures Underground and The Vaudevillains. James Seager is Les Enfants Terribles’ Producer.

Last week I had a phone chat with Seager. We talked about the origins of their partnership. He says, “We met fifteen years ago, working on a Shakespeare play – As You Like It – and we are truly great friends. We direct together and have similar tastes,” he laughs. “We come up with ideas and 95% of the time it works, usually we are on the same page.”

Seager and Lansley recently announced the winners of the annual LET Awards. Nominees took part in a showcase at Greenwich Theatre. “It’s been pretty magic. The standard was the highest we have ever seen. We had over one hundred applicants – of which we shortlisted ten companies. All of them were brilliant and it was a very difficult decision to choose one winner.” 

Two winners were selected, Rendered Retina and BoonDog Theatre. Both will receive a performance slot at the Pleasance as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, £1000 cash as well as mentoring. “Rendered Retina are young, fresh and enthusiastic,” he says. “We could tell that they have a passion and genuine love for theatre. A lot of the decision was down to mine and Olly’s instinct; we felt that they could really benefit from our mentorship. What Rendered Retina did was inventive, slick and clever. Their work showed a great deal of potential for development. Both companies stood out.”

The Rendered Retina boys: Tom Mangan, Jordan Choi and Alex Mangan are upbeat about their recent win, “We are so honoured to have been offered this opportunity! The LET Awards gave us the chance to meet some incredibly talented artists and performers, and for that we are very grateful. We are excited to receive mentoring from LET, as well as the chance to showcase our work at the Edinburgh Fringe,” says Choi.

The winners of the LET Award 2017. Oliver Lansley, James Seager, (Tom Mangan, Jordan Choi, Alex Mangan - Rendered Retina Theatre Company) and Matthew Dwyer. Credit Anthony Hollis.jpg

The winners of the LET Award 2017. Oliver Lansley, James Seager, (Tom Mangan, Jordan Choi, Alex Mangan – Rendered Retina Theatre Company) and Matthew Dwyer. Credit Anthony Hollis

It’s behind Les Enfants Terribles’ love of facilitating opportunities for emerging talent, particularly the LET Awards, where their work shines. “This is the sixth year we’ve done this and there are two main ways in which we help. One is creatively; direction, storytelling and writing. Secondly: on a productivity level, we find that new company’s want more help with finance and accommodation. I.e. the nitty gritty and boring things involved in taking a show to Edinburgh. We have fifteen years under our belts of taking work to Edinburgh Fringe, so we are in a position to guide them. It’s quite expensive! Time slots, venue hire, accommodation, flyers, PR etc – it all adds up,” cautions Seager.
Les Enfant Terribles are providing an invaluable service for emerging talent.  It’s brilliant. Really very brilliant indeed. They have just announced The Stepladder Award, which is designed to support developing fringe theatre companies making original work. The emphasis of the award is on supporting a company to mount a professional tour of their Edinburgh Festival Fringe show and building their company profile and structure from the roots.

Taking a show to Edinburgh Fringe is no mean-feat. Balancing ambition with breaking even is nearly impossible, other benefits of appearing at Edinburgh are infinite. “The experience – its intense putting on a show and taking it to Edinburgh – it is a huge learning-curve,” says James. “It’s important to be there meeting new people, raising your profile and showcasing work where all the important people working in this industry are in one place. “

If the output of dynamic work is anything to go by, 2017 will see Les Enfants Terribles progress on to even more innovative projects. “As well as the Step Ladder programme, our sister company Les Petits Theatre Company have the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ ‘The First Hippo on the Moon’ out on a U.K Tour. ‘Alice Adventures Underground’ is back at The Vaults from April. We also have a brilliant outdoor show doing the Festival circuit over the summer and a really exciting show opening in London in October.” He pauses: “So, watch this space.”

ALICE’S ADVENTURE UNDERGROUND OPENS AT THE VAULTS ON 25 APRIL 2017

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