Thursday, 26 July 2018

Paper Dramaturgy: Shaun Nolan @ Edfringe 2018


Shaun Nolan presents


This Summer, 19-year-old actor, writer, director and producer Shaun Nolan (comedy web series ‘Pickle’) lights up the stage in his Fringe debut, the one-man comedy play Paper Dolls, which explores the importance of believing in yourself… and always taking life with a pinch of salt. This new work propels a young person into the adult world of politics and examines how, sometimes, activism and political success struggle to harmonise.

As part of Billy’s campaign to become an independent Member of Parliament, he’s introducing a unisex changing room in the huge London department store he works at, but finding success isn’t going to be easy. While Billy deals with sceptics and naysayers, he must also form a pitch to prove to his dubious manager that this changing room is an idea that should stay and after that’s done, he must find a way to cope with the barrage of negative press coming from the media. Billy must fight for what he believes in and battle the negativity that comes with notoriety, while also trying to live like a normal 25-year-old man. Billy, along with over 15 other characters, are all performed by Shaun.

How would define the political content of your work?

The political content in my show is much more to do with social issues than it is to do with our political climate at large, which is surprising considering the play is about an aspiring politician. 

That doesn't make the political sphere irrelevant though. On the contrary, this is a play about an aspiring politician, so grappling with the public perception of politics is important. It's a show that holds a mirror up to everyone and asks "what could we all do better?" as opposed to attacking a political figure directly.

Are there ways in which your work can engage the audience beyond the immediate emotional rush of the content, and move forward towards further action?

Definitely. The play is centred around a campaign to introduce unisex changing rooms into clothing stores, but also focuses in heavily on the notion of good and bad press and making decisions under huge pressure. 

When writing the play, it made me seriously question my stance on the issues presented and what I'd do in Billy's (the main character) shoes. I think -- I hope -- that people leave the theatre questioning their beliefs, too.  Paper Dolls doesn't end by demanding you align your beliefs with Billy's, it's just asking you to consider them as an option.

How far do the material conditions of the Fringe impact on the process by which you make theatre for it?

The play is written with the Fringe in mind so it permeates every aspect of the piece. Being the largest Arts festival in the World, it's typical to expect a very wide variety of people and perspectives coming in and commenting on the show; some might agree with the ideas presented in the play, but equally some might not. 

That's the beauty of the theatre I think and is what's so special about the show. I also knew when writing the play that I wouldn't be able to take much with me to the Fringe, so I have no set and very minimal props as a result. It sounded like an obstacle at first, but it actually ended up being a challenge that has shaped the play to be something much more special than it would've been had I had ample resources.

Paper Dolls is a brand-new piece of writing, born from several different short-story ideas that Shaun had over the past year. Speaking of the show’s development, Shaun says, “I wanted to capture the passion young people have for politics through bold humour expressed in a completely forward and honest way. It’s rare to see fearless, expressive politicians under the age of 30, and this production encapsulates that.”

As well as Paper Dolls, Shaun Nolan is also the creator, star and writer of the comedy web series Pickle. In December 2017, the show was selected as a semi-finalist for the Best Web Series prize at the Los Angeles Cinefest.

The show’s second season is currently in production. 

Additionally, he is the host and producer of documentary podcast Opening Doors, currently in its third season. At the age of 15, he was awarded the NODA London Flame Award for Excellence in Theatre for his performance in Vale Musical Society’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Alongside that, Shaun was a theatre critic for several major West End websites for almost four years. He continues to write columns and thought-pieces for publications and companies like TodayTix and Miro Magazine.

Listings Information

Venue: Paradise in The Vault, The Annexe (Venue 29)

Tickets: £10 (£8 concession)

Dates: 4-11 Aug 2018

Time: 11:00 (1h)

Box Office: 0131 226 0000


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