Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Julius Dramaturgy: Amanda LaBonte @ Edfringe 2017

Women. Power. Ambition. 
Australian company set to burst onto the fringe stage with their all-female Julius Caesar.

In this age of uncertainty, one thing is clear - Caesar will die, tonight.

The inevitable fate of this leader is real, it’s palpable and you are invited to witness this extraordinary act of assassination.

theSpace @ Niddry Upper (Venue 9)
Niddry St, Edinburgh 

August 14th to 19th 11:25am (70mins)
August 21st to 26th 7:40pm  

What was the inspiration for this performance?

This idea of the all female cast is born from the fact that on average there is only one female role to every four male roles in the canon of Shakespeare’s works.

Shakespeare is tantalising to actor and audience alike. His plays are filled with wonderful words to say and dramatic situations to witness, it is just a pity that he gives women less of a voice and consequence within his plays.

We have chosen Julius Caesar, a play not deeply embedded with gender issues and romantic story-lines, as the perfect vehicle to see the women take centre stage, speaking mighty verses about freedom, leadership and destiny.

Shakespeare’s words empower the speaker, and it’s wonderful for audiences to hear that power
and responsibility from female voices.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely! Sitting in the theatre, exposed to a variety of characters/story lines - some that you can relate to, some that you aspire to and others that repulse you. Each teach you something about you, about the world. Some make you laugh and others challenge you , but good performance initiates discussion and helps us learn.

How did you become interested in making performance?

After finishing drama school, I quickly realised the phone wasn’t going to ring with Steven Spielberg offering me the “perfect” role to launch my career. 

 I learned that it was only me, as an artist, that was responsible for staying active and inspired. 

Twenty years on it’s the work that I have created that has been the most rewarding.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I think a script intensive workshop is a great way of approaching a classic like Julius Caesar. We spent three days away by the ocean in a beach house, eating good food and spending hours upon hours dissecting the script, analysing the language, investigating the characters and the relationships.  

This script intensive workshop was a great way for us, director and cast, to formulate the world we were going to “play” in and understand collectively where we want to go with it.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes it does.  Over the past 15 years we have toured Shakespearian comedies to wineries across Australia.  This is the first political tragedy we have tackled, and the first all female cast we have heralded.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

This is what one of our audience members said
after our latest showing of this  - "Julius Caesar is one of the best productions I have experienced in recent times. I adored the gender ‘swap’ and it was brilliant to observe strong, powerful, articulate female characters on stage. This interpretation was utterly enthralling. The feelings of turmoil, dismay, betrayal and grief this performance evoked was tremendous... certainly not for the faint hearted!” 

We hope Edinburgh audiences experience and feel the same.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We used two main strategies to help shape audiences experience of our production - Firstly, casting 6 women to play these infamous roles. And secondly, editing the script to 70 minutes.  Both very deliberate choices with a lot of impact.

Fresh from successful seasons at The Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals (Australia), Essential Theatre are excited to share their relevant and gritty take on Shakespeare’s tragedy with Edinburgh audiences. 

The production has been edited to a taut 70 minutes - this is Shakespeare at its best.

This story will be told by six tenacious women.  In a genre that is generally dominated by male characters, it’s a welcome and glorious surprise to see strong females taking centre stage, speaking mighty verses about freedom, leadership and destiny.  

Julius Caesar has never been more relevant.  Director Fleur Kilpatrick says “With each news bulletin this play feels newer and more connected to the world around us”. As current political figures are either heroes or traitors, there has never been a more apt time for Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to be played out. 

The company
Essential Theatre are a proud independent Australian theatre company with over 18 years experience. They have established themselves as a leading national touring company known for its creative and dynamic presentations of Shakespeare.  They are beyond thrilled to be making their debut in Edinburgh this year.

The Dramaturgy of Moistly Hollow: Marc Wall @ Edfringe 2017



In 1851, Lord Beauford returns to his ancestral home on the border between England and Scotland. With him he brings his secretary, several crates of gin and a terrible family secret that would awaken dark and sinister forces within the old Mansion...

Tuesday 15th August, until Tuesday 22nd August 2017
  17:45 - 18:45

What was the inspiration for this performance?

A never-ending, childish obsession with Ghost Stories,  most importantly the British ones.  That, and wanting to sing songs in lingerie...

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

For 'telling stories' and the ideas and themes they contain, I think it is one of the finest and most entertaining ways of securely handing our culture and heritage to the next generation, reacquainting ourselves with 'who we are and where we've come from', as well as allowing other cultures to experience and enjoy it, too.  

How did you become interested in making performance?

As a child at my Grandmother's Sunday family meals, it was sadly missing the important element of cross-dressing, shouting and showing off; so my cousin and I would write and star in plays, using my 3 cousins and 2 siblings to strut and fret upon Grandma's faded shag. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Beer, cigarettes and the Spectre of everything going tragically wrong. When that unholy trinity are in place; it's sweatily bashing out tunes on the piano, having a notepad and pen in every room (just in case you come up with an idea at 3am, whilst perched on porcelain). 

If I can make myself chuckle with an idea whilst damp-proofing the cellar, or make myself cry at a song I've created whilst tinkling the ivories, I'll know that the skeleton of the piece is forming. then its just lots lots more beer and cigarettes (naughty) in front of the PC, 'til its fleshed out.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I've been incredibly lucky to have been part of the creative team behind LetLuce, who always do rather splendidly at The Fringe- their shows are so beautifully absurd, observed and so irreverent. The Ghosts of Moistly Hollow's narrative isn't surreal, but the elements that bring the story to life are. It's bloody strange and bloody good fun.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

A feeling that they have been thoroughly entertained by a bald chap in lingerie singing songs, playing with a puppet, and being spooky and scary. There's no profound message to the show, just harmless, funny hokum. 

Or, I wish to press upon the gathered crowd that the folklore, legends and myths of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is part of our lifeblood as a storytelling, experiential, influencing  quadruple-countried nation, under our British flag. Maybe.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Narcissistic as it is, I created it with the theatrical bits and bobs that I would have wanted to have seen in a show by me: singing, costumes, special effects, gayness and some good old nonsense. 

Get Egg Productions presents the world premiere of The Ghosts of Moistly Hollow, a mini-musical comedy written by and starring Marc Wall, who makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut.

 In 1851, the gin-swilling, cross dressing, bald and brash (yet quite tuneful) aristocrat, Lord Beauford, along with his loyal secretary (the highly-strung and thoroughly   nervous) Mrs Dandridge, make their way from London to his family estate on the border between Scotland and England; for the first time in in twenty years. Over the coming days it becomes frighteningly clear that the terrible legends Lord Beauford was told as a child are true: ghosts, monsters and a tragic family curse.

Throughout these sinister events, his Lordship must contend with his grief at the loss of his lover, Kenneth; disappearing bottles of gin, his secret love of lingerie and the ever-increasing paranoia of Mrs Dandridge, who is convinced that evil lurks around every corner...

Taking its inspiration from Victorian ghost stories by authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, M R James and modern horror writers such as Susan Hill, infused with the spirit of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the anarchy of television’s Green Wing and Bottom; The Ghosts of Moistly Hollow is a creepy, queer and hilariously chaotic mini-musical.


 An alumnus of the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), whose prolific past students include David Suchet (Poirot), Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) and Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy The Vampire Slayer); Marc Wall makes his Edinburgh debut with his original new mini-musical, The Ghosts of Moistly Hollow. His previous acting experience the titular character in the UK premiere of celebrated writer, Tony Kushner's Hydriotaphia-or the Death of Dr. Browne; as Gordon Brown in Stiffed (written by The Sun's Clodagh Hartley and The Metro's John Higginson) and most recently as the voice of Anthony Hopkins and God in LetLuce's Edinburgh shows Show Pony and Seamen: A Naval Tale.

As part of the creative team behind LetLuce, whose hilarious Edinburgh Shows have consistently received outstanding reviews and award nominations at the Fringe and all over the UK, his show The Ghosts of Moistly Hollow follows in their tradition of farce, absurdity and heart-breaking pathos.

Trash Test Dramaturgy: Dummies @ Edfringe 2017

TRASH TEST DUMMIES RETURNS TO EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE 5 – 26 August 2017 (not 14th, 21st) 1pm Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows (The Lafayette), Edinburgh EH9 9EX Presented by Underbelly
Everyone put your bins out! Trash Test Dummies are back in Edinburgh! This sidesplitting, slapstick comedy circus show returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a third year running, delivering a dump-truck of hilarity!

Trash Test Dummies have been taking the festival world by storm since 2015, receiving accolades including Best Children's Presentation at Adelaide Fringe Festival 2015.

The Trash Test Dummies are as full of laughs as their bins are full of surprises.

Returning to the Fringe after sell out shows in 2015 and 2016, this award winning comedy takes the household wheelie bin to new heights.

What was the inspiration for this performance? 
We wanted to make a show that we would have as much fun doing as the audience would watching. We were given Wheelie bins to play with whilst studying at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) in Australia and had so much fun exploring this mundane inanimate object that everyone is so familiar with and uses for one purpose. 

We found an ample amount of creative ways of using the wheelie bin in unconventional ways as well as being able to perform circus stunts with them.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

We believe it is a great way to communicate an idea and a wonderful platform to start discussions.

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 

The three of us met at NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts) in Australia where we became great mates and decided to make a fun show together.

How did you become interested in making performance? 
It probably stems as far back as putting on performances in the lounge for my parents. I can’t remember a time when I was not on stage - whether in a band a play or a musical. After finding a love for Circus and Physical theatre it just seemed like a logical progression to make a performance with this art-form.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our first show as this company. We are currently making a new show called “Splash Test Dummies” where we are taking the same approach as we did with the first. It’s all about creating a fun show that we enjoy making and performing as much as the audience will enjoy watching.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope audiences will forget where they are as they are having so much fun being with us in the moment. We hope they live inspired and maybe add a little silly into their own lives.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 

We are influenced by comedy, clowning and circus. We try to use these mediums to take the audience on a journey into our playful imaginations where we explore everyday objects in profound and hilarious ways.
 Winner: Best Children’s Presentation, Adelaide Fringe 2015 Runner-up: Primary Times Children’s Choice Award, Edinburgh Fringe 2016 Winner: Best Children’s Presentation Weekly Award, Adelaide Fringe 2016
Title Trash Test Dummies
Performance Dates Sat 5 – Sat 26 August (not 14th or 21st)
Running time 60 minutes
Location Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows (The
Lafayette), Edinburgh EH9 9EX

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

RashDramaturgy: Two Man Show @ Edfringe 2017

A RashDash and Northern Stage co-production in association with Soho Theatre: 

RashDash: Two Man Show 

Two women play two women playing two men - RashDash return with their Fringe First winning show about gender and language 
Devised by RashDash | Music by Becky Wilkie Part of Northern Stage at Summerhall // Tech Cube, 21 – 26 August 2017, 22:15 (23:25), 14+

Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen are women playing women playing men in a show about how patriarchy is bad for everyone, and how being a man can be a dangerous, difficult and confusing business. A female punk/pop band predict a non-binary future in a show that embraces the feminine, masculine and everything in between. It’s about broadening the discussion on gender. It’s about masculinity, what two women think of masculinity but also what men think of women. It’s about feminism and men and feminism and masculinity.
What was the inspiration for this performance? RashDash exists to make radical, feminist theatre. We think about how our sex and our gender interact and how gender affects who and how we are. So far all of our shows have been about women, because feminism is about women, we thought. And it is about women!

Of course it is! It’s about equality and empowerment – but it’s also about men. It’s about men moving over. Which is hard, because when you’ve been in a position of privilege, equality can feel like oppression. But it’s also about how Patriarchy, which is most definitely bad for women, is bad for men too. Because Patriarchy places unhelpful expectations and stereotypes on men and women, but when we can be fully ourselves – masculine, feminine, anywhere in between or outside those categories – we can be happier and freer.
We wanted to make a show that was about making more space for more people to be more themselves. Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? Yes. Which is one of the reasons I find interviews and articles difficult. Writing the essay of the show or talking about the story of the show can’t get close to what the show is.

It is essay, it is story, it is being in a room with other people – watching and feeling them react to the same thing in front of them as you are. It’s wondering whether that thing that performer just said is true or made up or somewhere in between.

It’s seeing that woman’s muscles up close, it’s smelling her sweat – the sweat that tells you that what she’s saying (with her body, with her words), she really, really means. She really thinks and feels these things.
In performance you are captive for a short while. In our show, there isn’t really space to talk back or discuss with us or each other until it’s over – so I can start the show by shouting at you about the origins of patriarchy and I can finish the show half naked in a tutu telling you my biggest secrets and in the middle I can dance the history of fine art and sculpture – and unless you leave – you sit with the ideas/images/words/sounds I’ve put together and you think and you feel and – hopefully – they add up to more of the sum of their parts, and then you can go away and do what you will with it.

Never think about it again, think about it again, come and see it again… But ideally, you finish it all before you process it. And that’s different from dipping in and out or pausing, or being in your living room surrounded by your life, or objecting in the middle, or asking for clarification before I’m ready to give it. It’s not a dialogue until afterwards. It makes you respond differently. And also – it’s 3D. Like life. More dimensions in which to experience it. So it can go in deeper and to more bits of you. Ideas aren’t just for brains, they are for bodies too. How did you become interested in making performance? I am a performer, that’s what makes me feel good (sometimes) and it’s what I’m good at. I am also a very political person. I’ve realised that unless I really care about what the show is saying, what it’s for, I find it very hard to be a good performer. So I make theatre. Because I am a performer who wants to make positive offers. Helen and I met at University and started working together because we wanted to make shows with singing, dancing and acting, but that weren’t musicals. We wanted to work out what that was and in order to do that, had to decide to make a show about something. It was in those weeks in which we thought about how to decide what it was about, that we realised it also had to be for something. It had to explore something that might be good/useful/difficult to think about. Make more space for people.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show? We are always searching for ‘the right’ process. This one has been very playful. We did 3 weeks of research, 4 weeks of making a first draft and then 3 weeks of rehearsing, all with good chunks of time in between, doing other projects. It’s allowed us time to think and change our minds and find creative ways to express all the essay writing we did in the research phase. Does the show fit with your usual productions? There is no ‘usual’ I think. There’s live music, dance and story. That’s usual. It’s feminist – that’s usual. But I think it’s better than our previous shows. More wild and less conventional and more honest and more nuanced. What do you hope that the audience will experience? I hope the audience will be moved and provoked. I hope they will see some of their own experience of being a human in the show and also have a window into very different ways of being. I hope they are entertained. I expect they will be confused at points, but it becomes clearer if you stick with it.
I hope they will feel a bit like they know us by the end of it. What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? Making a show that I would want to see. Trying to make beautiful images that delight and make movement that gets your mirror neurons firing. The show is in traverse, so the audience watch each other watch the show – this has a big effect on the experience.
We also try not to think about audience sometimes, so that we can be brave enough to go deeply into the material and to make ourselves as vulnerable as that show makes us, at points. I like it when I feel like I’m watching something I’m not sure if I should be watching. So sometimes we have to imagine no one will watch.

Performers Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen said, “This is an exciting time to be a woman. This could be the beginning of the end of patriarchy. We’re alive and we want to be part of the change. This show is an invitation to men to be part of it too. If you’re not already. It’s an invitation to create a new language that will allow us to think new thoughts. It’s an invitation to create more space for the people we really are. The show is live music, movement and women playing men and it’s a mass of contradictions. Like the world. Expect to be moved and confused and gently provoked.”
RashDash are theatre makers and performers Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen. They make theatre combining movement, music and text. Their work is a combination of radical feminist ideas explored through an articulate physical style in a form that they continue to reinvent. RashDash has won three Fringe First Awards (in 2016, 2010 and 2011), The Tods Murray Awards for Best Book and Innovation in Musical Theatre, and have received nominations for Total Theatre and Off West End Awards. Shows include: The Darkest Corners (Transform Festival, Leeds) Snow White and Rose Red (Cambridge Junction), We Want You to Watch (National Theatre/National Tour), Oh, I Can’t Be Bothered (Finland, Soho Theatre/Tour), The Ugly Sisters (Edinburgh Fringe/National Tour), Scary Gorgeous (Edinburgh Fringe), Another Someone (Edinburgh Fringe/National Tour), and SET FIRE TO EVERYTHING!!! and The FRENZY, both outdoor shows commissioned by Lyric Hammersmith, Watford Imagine, Greenwich Docklands International Festival and Latitude Festival.
Becky Wilkie is a composer and musician and a regular collaborator with RashDash having worked on Another Someone and The Frenzy. Becky has toured internationally with Fear of Men and Bright Light Bright Light and is a regular composer and performer on the Manchester music scene.
Northern Stage in Newcastle has a reputation for breathing new life into classic texts, curating ambitious and sometimes daring contemporary theatre and working with thousands of people every year in a strong participation programme. This is the sixth year that Northern Stage has hosted a programme at the Edinburgh Fringe, presenting some of the most interesting theatre from across the north of England and beyond, in partnership with Royal Exchange Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Hull Truck Theatre.

Rash Dash: Two Man Show Part of Northern Stage at Summerhall Summerhall Place, Edinburgh EH9 1PL 21 –26 August 2017 (except Wednesdays) | 22:15 (23:25) £12 / £10 concs Tickets: 0131 560 1581|
Company information:
Devised and performed by Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen Music by Becky Wilkie Designed by Oliver Townsend Lighting Design by Katharine Williams
Supported by Arts Council England and Golsoncott Foundation

Press Contact: Sharon McHendry at SM Publicity on or 07970 178643 or @smpublicity OR Helen Fussell PR & Communications on or 07801 369778 or @hellfuss

Dramaturgy with Legs: DIGS @ Edfringe 2017

A playful, twisted ode to the millennial generation and surviving your 20’s -  shared living, anxiety, love and loneliness
Performed by Jess Murrain and Lucy Bairstow | Directed by Jemima James (Complicite associate director) 
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 5 - 28 August (not 26), 13:45 (14:45), 16+

Wanna crash at Theatre with Legs’ flat? Swinging sledgehammers and cutting loose to 70s pop, Theatre with Legs are pushing through grime, through grief, through the wall. They are clawing for space and searching for answers about shared living. 
Trapped in overdrafts, in each other's pockets and approaching 30, Theatre with Legs regularly find themselves too anxious to go and sit in their own front room. This second full length performance from the emerging company asks questions about Generation Rent and human behaviour in the public and private space. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

All our work comes from the conversations that we have as friends; the things we offload on each other over pints in the pub.  We’d both been through periods where we’d struggled with the places we lived, the dynamics of the people we shared with, the financial ramifications of trying to live in a city you can barely afford to. We got fascinated with the complex behavior that seems to manifest between people who live together in the way that we do, and we wanted to try and understand what is at the root of all that weirdness, intimacy and passive-aggressiveness. 

And the more we tried to understand, the more we saw it as a symptom of something much bigger – as a symptom of the underlying anxiety, isolation and violent conditioning of our generation – Generation Rent… whatever that really means… We came to realise that in making a show about shared living, we were really making a show about the way we are living, the way we think about living, and the way we’re relating to each other in a much larger sense.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

Absolutely! It has to be! We need it. Because performance, live performance is a space for dialogue between people. It’s a conversation, it’s an exchange, it’s a meeting. And in a time when it feels like there’s a lot of superficial chat happening, but not a lot of real conversation, that feels really vital, really important.

How did you become interested in making performance?

We met when we were training as actors and
theatre makers on Central’s Collaborative and Devised theatre course. It was magnetic; we were drawn to each other because of shared humour, really, and enjoying using humour to express complicated or difficult ideas. We connected over the art we liked, not just theatre, but poetry, music, movement. So alongside our actor training, we started collaborating, making work that reflected what we liked, celebrated what we liked… Theatre with Legs was born from that.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We talk about the ideas we’re interested in for months and months. Then we bring it from our everyday lives into the rehearsal room and see what we find. We work instinctively, musically, physically. We quite often start by writing poems, making snatches of music, fragments of movement. We work from images we’ve collected, from interviews with people we’ve spoken to, or conversations we’ve had between ourselves in the past. Our real-life relationship, Lucy and Jess as friends and makers, is central to the work - it’s sort of the touchstone or anchor. We’re not interested in calling it autobiography, but we make work that is deeply personal and encouraging each other to be as honest as possible, in a way that is creative not cathartic, is a large part of our process.

And then we layer the rough things we make against each other. Ask ourselves what we like and why… write and re-write. The material isn’t sacred or precious, we get rid of a lot of stuff -  usually after sharing work in progress with audiences. We like to do that at quite early stages of development. You learn a lot about what needs to be articulated through the terrifying chaos of showing new or unfinished work to audiences; somehow when you get material in front of people, it reveals itself to you in a way it never would in the rehearsal room.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It’s only our second show, so there isn’t really a usual… Our first show, 'Maybe I Should Freeze My Eggs' explored some of the same themes as DIGS; searching for connection, anxiety, the uncertainty of the future, and maybe DIGS is a more nuanced and sophisticated version of MISFME… And perhaps our next show will be an even more sophisticated version again? Who knows. In terms of style, DIGS is classic Theatre with Legs, in that it is raw, playful, queer, funny and experiments with form. And at the crux is our dynamic as friends and as makers. It also involves and relies on a very specific relationship with the audience. 

The audience are key to our work. We want to take them on a journey, a quest! However, unlike our first show, DIGS has been a much bigger collaboration, in terms of having a creative team around us, so having a director, producer and designers working on DIGS has been a real period of development and transition for us. Gone are the days of making work in Lucy’s lounge and doing everything ourselves!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that they laugh; whether that’s comfortable or not. That they recognize particular sensations, behaviours and situations; whether that’s comfortable or not. That they empathise with us. That they are frustrated with us. We want the show to be provocative – a question mark rather than a statement. We hope the audience feel that the show has a lot of space built into it for them, their individual and collective responses, their imaginations. We hope that it stays with people beyond the immediate live experience of seeing it.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We work with a particular awareness of the audience, which comes from our clown and comedy training. We try to simultaneously draw them in, bring them with us, but we’re not trying to make them like us… In the early part of the show, there’s the opportunity to look them right in the eye, really see them, and we do. Because once you’ve seen them, and they’ve seen you in that moment, then they are no longer “general audience” but a specific collection of people that you respond to and work with during the course of that show. 

Every group is different, and therefore every show is different in response. And there are whole sections of the show which are direct address to the audience. Where we, as versions of ourselves, speak directly to them. We describe it as ‘having a thin skin between us and the audience’, that’s the sensation that we work with, to keep that connection alive.

Performer Lucy Bairstow said: “Jess and I became obsessed by unpicking the humdrum conundrum of shared living and the serious issues underpinning it. Why does everyone in their 20s seem to have anxiety? And why does it feel so hard to have proper conversation in your own home? In creating DIGS we have observed our own patterns of behaviour, along with those of others, and tried to articulate this experience on stage, with guts and humour. DIGS has become our heartfelt ode to a millennial generation that can't afford their own space to breathe.”
Performer Jess Murrain said: “In making work as Theatre with Legs, and especially for DIGS, Luce and I have always been looking our own experiences - like anxiety, grief, love and loneliness - square in the eye. We're not trying to shy away from the things we feel, but use them to give voice to the modern day situations of young people like us, who aren't always able to talk about their growing insecurities and deepest desires. We're exploring our own vulnerability basically, and revelling in it.”
Director Jemima James said: “As queer performance makers, Theatre with Legs speak to audiences with a voice that is totally unique. Their work is anarchic, darkly hilarious and has a beautifully crafted rawness. In colliding theatre, poetry and music, they are making hybrid work that is personal and outward looking, asking themselves and their audiences provocative questions that are deeply political and deeply human.“

Theatre with Legs are Jess Murrain and Lucy Bairstow. Based in London and Bradford, their process is devised and experimental. Combining dark comedy, physical storytelling, live music and spoken word, their work is playful, political, queer, (dyslexic) and inherently live.
Previous work includes: Maybe I Should Freeze my Eggs (Brainchild Festival, Illuminate Festival at New Wimbledon Studio & Camden Fringe), Cold Feet (Roundhouse), Dating Blues (Bussey Building).
Jemima James is a director and writer. She is an associate director at Complicite and for their show The Encounter. Current projects include DIGS (CPT/Pleasance) and Skate Hard, Turn Left (BAC).


Performed by Jess Murrain and Lucy Bairstow

Directed by Jemima James

Produced by Sophie Nurse

Movement by Alexandra Green

Lighting by Joe Price

Sound by Dominic Brennan

Stage management by Libbie Khabaza

Theatre with Legs
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, Edinburgh, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ
5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 27 Aug (not 26) | 13:45 (14:45) | £10 (£9) 
9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 August | 13:45 (14:45) | £9 (£8) 
14, 15, 21, 22 and 28 August | 13:45 (14:45) | £7.50 (£6.50) 
Previews 2 - 4 August | 13:45 (14:45) | £6
Box office: 0131 556 6550 | 

Edinburgh Fringe preview: 
Theatre with Legs
Pleasance Islington, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF 
Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 June 2017
7.45pm | £12 (£10) 
Box office: 020 7609 1800 | 

Our Carnal Dramaturgy: Rachel Mars @ Edfringe 2017

Our Carnal Hearts
Live choral surround singing, storytelling and physical theatre merge in this hilarious, incendiary show about the hidden workings of envy and the dark side of human nature.

Devised and performed by Rachel Mars | Original music by Louise Mothersole (Sh!t Theatre) 
The Dissection Room, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL, 16 - 26 August 2017, 11:00 (12:00), 14+  

“Envy is a directed emotion. Without a target, it cannot occur.” Sociologist Helmet Schoeck 
Four belting singers create a wall of sound in this thrilling, energetic and ritualistic celebration of desire, competition and how we screw each other. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The show interrogates envy, competition and the way we relate to each other when we are in a society that promotes both. Going back, I think it was first triggered by the London riots in 2011. I was interested in how people's genuine anger tipped into looting and the accumulation of 'stuff'. That led me to think about the drivers we have to own things. Plus, I'm very interested in feelings that are taboo. 

Envy is something people don't feel comfortable talking about because you are often envious of people very close to you. I wanted to make a public space to explore these very personal,
 shameful feelings and unravel them from capitalist doctrine about envy. 

I also remember listening to the language around David Cameron's 'Big Society' period, 'we are all in this together', all of that. It was at the time when joining choirs suddenly became more fashionable again, and I wanted to think about the tension of singing together about shameful, solo things. 

I was also feeling that an artist, I am constantly pitted against other artists who are peers, friends. We're competing for funding, for slots at festivals. As we are fed this culture of scarcity, we can double-down on that competition. I am interested in how we can remain a community in these circumstances.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes, I definitely think so. I think, when it's working best, the liveness means audiences really feel invited to hold their own ideas up against the ones in the shows. With this show, people stay around afterwards, or email to say the ideas in it were provocative or comforting. 

We were performing it in Boston and opening the night after the US election. When we got booked, no-one thought the result would go the way it did. The nights following, you could really feel there was so much desire to be in a place where other people were and the show space became one of assembly. The show could be viewed through those turbulent recent events and it gave people a focus to express their ideas and worries for the future.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I come from a small but loud family, where joke telling and story telling always happened around the table. If you wanted to be heard you had to have a good story. So, I think I've always been interested in the performer/audience relationship and who is which, when. 

I watched a lot of stand up and comedy on TV growing up - French and Saunders, Billy Connolly, Richard Pryor - and I got really into the rhythms of it, the surprises - what gets an audience response and what doesn't.  Then, after university, I started encountering the performance art world and all the possibilities of that form and began testing small ideas at underground London nights.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I worked on the show on my own for a long time, creating a core of writing and visual ideas that I brought to the rehearsal room. I always knew I wanted a choral score in the piece, so then I worked with Louise Mothesole (composer) in quite a rapid way, bouncing around ideas for the sound of that - pop, classical influences. 

She came back with some brilliant music and we headed into a first draft performance. The real make of the show happened  when all the singers, myself, Louise and director Wendy Hubbard got in a room and stared pulling the work together. 

It was important that that space was open, honest and collaborative. Especially for a show about envy, competition, capitalism and F*cking each other over - the all female, generous, and loving space of rehearsals felt quite radical, like a resistance.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It's a much bigger beast! Usually I've worked in solo or duo performance. This is also the first time I've worked with live music - this show is performed by me and four brilliant female singers, performing a surround sound choral score.  It's also the first time I've worked in the round, - it has very deliberate staging and design choices that are different from my other work.

Our Carnal Hearts has the direct address, the edgy humour of my previous work, but it's also much darker, perhaps responding to the uncertainty of politics at the moment. I do think all of my work is researched across politics, sociology, psychology and then spun through wicked entertainment. This show is powered by a political or social question -  and asks how that political question plays out personally for people, so in that way it fits with other shows.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

It is a collective experience but also a personal one. I think the show invites you to think about your place in your community, about some of the grubby feelings we aren't normally allowed to express. 

I also hope that it is funny and entertaining. The shape of the show moves towards a potentially cathartic but also energising finale, but one that is deliberately murky. So I think it is an invitation to be in that complexity of feelings, all while people are brandishing rubber chickens and singing Spandau Ballet.

Our Carnal Hearts Trailer from Rachel Mars on Vimeo.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

The staging choices are very considered, we are on a four sided stage with the audience banks facing each other. This shapes the experience of  the show at times feeling like a community, at times like a show-down. The whole look of the stage, the design choices give a semi-religious, ritualistic feeling to the space. It should feel like we all just rocked up for some off-book, semi-illegal service. 

The singing - and the occasional invitations for the audience to join in - also shape this experience of being together whilst questioning the genuineness of that being together at exactly the same time. 

Award-winning live artist, performer and comedian Rachel Mars explores what lurks in the darkness of our psyches, exposing the monsters within and without and joyfully embracing our rage at the situation our political landscape has left us in.

As collectivism moves towards individualism, inequalities deepen and the Brexit vote reveals the extent of disquiet in the UK, we are all looking at people who are like us... but a little bit better. With influences including Spandau Ballet, a Hungarian folk story and a Guatemalan tribal ritual, this is a performance exploring this great taboo. It’s about secretly choosing the bigger slice, even among your friends and family; imagining accidents; stealing other people's ideas and telling yourself you were just inspired by them.

Rachel Mars said of Our Carnal Hearts which comes to Summerhall following sell-out performances in the UK and US: “This show is a symphony and an exorcism, it’s a big, epic, murky and hilarious ode to our f*cked up times. It’s a place to let it all hang out and address the things that are taboo and shameful about envy and competition, with transcendent original choral music. Audiences can expect an uproarious, raucous and visually beautiful show.” 

Rachel Mars is an award winning UK based performance maker with a background in theatre, live art, and comedy. Her work often interweaves personal reflection with universal questions of politics and place, and explores the way we, as people, are just trying to figure it all out. Our Carnal Hearts is her latest show, which has been touring the UK and the US (Fusebox Festival, Austin and A.R.T Boston). Her company with nat tarrab, Mars.tarrab is the winner of the 2017 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award for their new show ROLLER at the Barbican, London. Other solo and collaborative work includes The Way You Tell Them, Story #1 (with Greg Wohead) and The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian, which have toured to the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. Her work has been featured at South Bank Centre, Tate Modern, Forest Fringe, and Brighton Festival.

Recent commissions include Royal Court Tottenham, Fuel Theatre, Home Live Art and Ovalhouse. She is a fellow at the Birkbeck Centre of Contemporary Theatre and has developed work with the support of organisations like the Arts Council England, The Wellcome Trust, Cambridge Junction, Playwright’s Workshop Montreal and The Orchard Project, New York. Rachel is a regular contributor on BBC Radio’s ‘Pause for Thought’ where she pretends to know things about faith. She has also written for The Guardian and The Stage.  

Louise Mothersole is a performance artist and one half of award-winning duo Sh!t Theatre. She is also a lighting designer, theatre technician and freelance composer. She has written songs and music for Stacy Makishi, Lois Weaver, Duckie at the Barbican and for a project with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Rhiannon Armstrong is an interdisciplinary artist making work with empathy and collaboration at its core. She learnt to sing from a Welsh man and play the violin from a Yugoslavian woman. 

Orla O’Flanagan is an artist, singer and co-founder of ActiveArt, which creates innovative and participatory art for egalitarian social change.

Rachel Weston is a professional freelance singer and workshop leader, with a particular interest in traditional and contemporary Eastern European Jewish folk and art song.

Co-commissioned by The Junction, Cambridge and CPT. Developed with the support of Arts Council England, South East Dance in partnership with Jerwood Charitable Trust, Orchard Project (NY), Ovalhouse, Shoreditch Town Hall, American Repertory Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre and Playwrights' Workshop Montreal.


Devised and performed by Rachel Mars 
Performers/singers Rhiannon Armstrong, Louise Mothersole, Orla O’Flanagan, and Rachel Weston
Original music composed and arranged by Louise Mothersole 
Directed by Rachel Mars and Wendy Hubbard
Lighting Designer Anna Barrett
Producer Rebecca Atkinson-Lord