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FringeReview at PBH’s Free Fringe

The spirit of free and the free spirit thrives again at The Free Fringe of the great PBH. Here are our top recommendations for PBH’s Free Fringe.

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Paul Levy talks to Walter DeForest about Van Gogh Find Yourself

In his first Edinburgh fringe show (part of PBH’s Free Fringe) Van Gogh Find Yourself, New York City based actor, artist, and writer Walter DeForest gives the audience a chance to have an intimate moment with Vincent van Gogh, experiencing the passion, humour, and heart of a great artist.  This intriguing interactive portrait play is written and performed by DeForest whose dramaturg is based on scores of letters between Vincent and his brother Theo, and a short memoir written by Adeline Ravoux, which details Van Gogh’s stay in Auvers-sur-Oise. DeForest, who has a striking physical resemblance to Van Gogh, tells Vincent’s side all whilst drawing portraits and conversing with the audience. In this interview Walter chats about how he created the show and also mentions his other reason for being in Edinburgh – an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most portraits drawn in 12 hours.

Listen to our interview with Walter DeForest about Van Gogh Find Yourself


Writer and performer, Tina Sederholm talks about Till Debt Us Do Part

What’s the theme of your show?
A humorous but unflinching plunge into our skewed relationships with money, and the addictive, compulsive nature of debt.   A humorous but unflinching plunge into our skewed relationships with money, and the addictive, compulsive nature of debt.

Describe one of your rehearsals.
I rehearse a lot by myself as inhabiting parts of the show before they are fully formed is part of my writing process. I tend to rehearse in front of a mirror or looking out an open window. It sounds strange but if I can’t look myself in the eye, or if the world doesn’t seem to respond to what I am doing, then I can be pretty sure that it’s not working. After I get a workable script together, I rehearse together wit h director Rachel Mae Brady, who has a playful, anything goes approach to performance-making, and we try out lots of different ideas until we find the ones that fit.

What’s new or unique about the show?
Money and debt are touchy subjects, so I haven’t seen many other shows that go into the psychological causes of chronic debt cycles. Rather, they focus on the effects of debt. But I wanted to get down and dirty with debt, to investigate it as an addiction, a cycle one is bound it to repeat until the necessary healing takes place.

How did the show come into being?
I found myself, although I ‘know better’ getting stuck in a cycle of getting into debt, paying it off, and then getting back into debt. I am skilled, hardworking and have no major health issues, so why did my debt keep returning?

I got busy with a lot of research into the history of money and debt, and tied that together with my own experiences and shame around debt. Then I found the funny side. Because there is always a funny side.

How is the show developing?
Til Debt Us Do Part had its first outing at Off Beat Festival in Oxford, and went down really well. I have a few nips and tucks to make before I take it to Banres Fringe Festival, and need to cut about five minutes so it fits into my slot at Edinburgh, so it should be super tight by the time I get there.   .
Describe the process of creating this work.
I have been researching and writing it for over a year. I started with a huge palette, looking at the origins of money and the theology behind debt, and then dug into my own process round getting sober with spending and learning how to charge properly for my work. Then I worked with Rachel to identify the overarching themes, and work out the staging, which helped me hone the script more.

How have you experimented?
I experimented with setting the whole story in an alternative Universe with an usual payment method, but the central metaphor didn’t quite work, so three months ago I threw away 95% of it and started again. I went back to my own story, brought in elements of audience participation, poetry and music and tied in the micro element son my story, with the macro elements of Government debt and the flaws in our banking system.

What are your favourite shows, and why?
Butt Kapinski, sadly not at Edinburgh this year, but I saw it four time last year, because the sheer inventiveness of having every audience member play a part in the show, the courage of the performance, plus the flipping of gender roles. Oh, and it was really funny.
Promise and Promiscuity – Penny Ashton’s one-woman send up of Jane Austen. Penny is an incredibly versatile performer, and somehow go the to believe she was playing every part it he show without a moment’s doubt.
The Sleep Show – Anything Rob Auton does is filled with humour and wonder. It’s impossible to leave without having cried a little, laughed a lot, and feeling somehow cleansed.

Show dates, times and booking info:
When: Saturday 6th – Sunday 28th August (not 15th or 22nd), 12.30pm
Where: Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG (Venue 156)
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: free
Details and booking here. 
Visit Tina’s web site: http://www.tinasederholm.com


Amber Huckle from Idle Playthings Secretary talks about Safe Places and How to Ruin Them

What’s the theme of your show?
Follow Terry’s unsupportive support group as they cope with bizarre addictions: monologuing, interpretive dance, wordplay, the internet, puns and more! The Idle Playthings return to the Fringe with a bright, hilarious sketch show of new writing after the success of their 2014 debut show Ctrl-Alt-Sketch.

Describe one of your rehearsals.
We usually end up, settled under a tree in our local park – weather dependent of course, the cast discuss staging, performance, dialogue and expression. Although we are aways interspersed with searching for Bees, ice-cream, tree-climbing, pranks, laughter, and strange-looks from members of the general public. Combined with the occasional canine visitor, to break the afternoon up a little, our rehearsals are chaotic, at points childish, and a great deal of fun.
A typical rehearsal is 50% work, 50% fun, as at heart The Playthings are more of a family than a professional comedy troupe, we all work together to produce something that we can say we are proud of at the end of the day, but the journey is as important as the finished product.

What’s new or unique about the show?
The show is collaboratively written, by the Idle Playthings (Bath Spa Comedy Society) by members of all years, providing us with a huge variety of sketches – with something for everyone included in the show. Following the success of The Idle Playthings Fringe Debut show, Ctrl Alt Sketch, this years Fringe show is once again all new writing by students.

How did the show come into being?
The show came into being as a result of this years comedy cohort, writing and performing alongside generally laughing, learning and forming friendships that will last forever. Co-written by the entire society the show is the culmination of our years work, and the Edinburgh Fringe festival will serve as a finale for our years work.
Following the success of our annual Christmas show, work began in earnest for the Edinburgh Fringe, group sketch writing sessions were hosted, by Kate Jeanes (head of The Idle Playthings Fringe Committee 2016, and VP of the society). Once the sketches were collated, Kate Jeanes Connor Macleod brought the show to life.
Casting and an intensive rehearsal schedule in the lead up to our previews (on the 21st July at the Ring o’ Bells, Bath and the 28th July at Komedia, Bath) the show is beginning to take to life.

How is the show developing?
The show is developing well, with rehearsals in their final stages in preparation for our first preview, staging and props are now the main focus of rehearsals. We are looking forward to testing our material fully and working to ensure that if any tweaks could take us one step closer towards perfection, then we can make the best of the experience.

How has the writer been involved? Or describe the process of creating this work.
Many of the writers who contributed to the project, are integral parts of the cast. The process of writing the show has been something of an evolution – with changes and directional notes forming a crucial part of the rehearsal process. There is a good spread of writers who are cast within their own sketches, allowing them the space to maintain a sense of creative direction within their own work; whilst still ensuring the overarching theme of the show is not disturbed. Our aim is to ensure that our sketches stay within the framework of the show, without being limited creatively.
One of our strengths as a group of writers, is being able to respond to feedback and criticism, in order to maintain the overall direction of the wider show. By ensuring that the creative process has continued beyond the initial drafting stage, we feel we will have a stronger and more cohesive show.

Company web site: http://theidleplaythings.co.uk

Booking dates: Venue: Silk (444), Dates: August 6-14 and 16-27th, Entry Cost: Free, Time: 12:05, Duration: 1 Hour

Book here



Jessy Parker Humphreys from Transgression Productions talks aboutNot Your Nice Girl

Not Your Nice Girl, PBH Free Fringe cabaret comedy queer drag show, 17.15

What’s the theme of your show?

Our show is based around contemporary understandings of both marriage and gender stereotypes. Despite the Equal Marriage Act which allowed British gay people to get married for the first time, the institution still often excludes trans and queer people. We were interested in trying to understand how to resolve the contradictions in LGBTQ celebration and LGBTQ struggle and we decided to do this by trying to build a ‘perfect’ woman and a ‘real’ man to explore the gender stereotypes that play into heterosexual marriage.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Our rehearsals are based around lots of improvisation and play. We are interested in reclaiming children’s games for adults, who rarely get a chance to have meaningless fun. Games like Duck, Duck, Goose and What’s The Time Mr Wolf which we then use to capture an enthusiasm which we can take into our own work.

What’s new or unique about the show?

Our show takes a unique look at marriage because we are a queer couple who disagree about whether to get married. Jessy is a trans non-binary person who is excluded from the institutional framework of marriage but who desperately loves the idea of having a big party celebrating love. Kaiya is a bit more skeptical about the whole thing.

Our different experiences of performance also makes the show unique with its blend of forms from spoken word to sketch comedy via songs on a ukulele.

How did the show come into being?

The show came into being when we were once again extravagantly dressed up at a club night and decided that we could and should put our daily lives on stage. That we were discussing issues with our friends that weren’t being seen in theatre spaces. That we were aware of how much we enjoyed our politics being presented on stage by other people. And the thought that we could do that too.

How is the show developing?

We first started developing the show as part of an open ‘drag’ night which we hosted where we ran a workshop to create material and encourage people to participate in gender performance. Off the back of the sell-out show, we continued to create more material, refining the sketches and exploring the use of music.

How have you experimented?

We have experimented by trying out a range of different performance styles and bringing them together in our work. We started out thinking we were going to create a show of devised theatre but soon moved into sketch writing and sketch writing. We have been experimenting with a wide range of musical styles as well from the English madrigal to the ukulele.

Audience participation also adds a layer of experimentation to every show as you never quite know how audience members will interact with you. Over time we have been coming up with the best ways to set an audience at ease and so help them participate in the most effective and enjoyable way for audience and performer.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

We’re really excited to see Canon Warriors – a great play about two queer women and puppets – and Callisto: A Queer Epic – which looks at different queer stories across the ages. Queer representation in all art forms is seriously lacking and we are thrilled to see people trying to tackle that.

We also love The Oxford Revue’s show ‘Hello You’ and comedy duo, Shelf.

Show dates, times and booking info

Not Your Nice Girl are performing from the 7th to the 27th August (not 10th or 17th) at 17:15 (50 mins). The show is part of PBH Free Fringe so seats are free and allocated on a first come first served basis.

Company web site: http://www.notyournicegirl.com