EdFringe Talk: Self Service

” My approach was to flick through the brochure, pause on any image that caught my eye, read the blurb and if it hooked me, I’d see it – a lucky dip.”

WHO: Anne Rabbitt

WHAT: “Breaking down? Lost the manual? Book in for this funny (meta)physical dive into how to keep going. Based on a complete strip-down and rebuild of the 1962 Rabbitt model. This 21,000-day service includes a troubleshooting guide and FAQs fielded by experts such as philosophers, physicists, poets and the manufacturers: Mum and Dad. Learn to laugh at built-in obsolescence and override factory settings. Lost your feeler gauge? Find it here. Warning: may contain candour. When life needs a service, rummage under the bonnet with the award-winning Anne Rabbitt – ‘reinventing her work with wonderful results!’ (FringeReview, 2021).”

WHERE: theSpace @ Surgeons Hall – Theatre 1 (Venue 53) 

WHEN: 19:15 (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!

Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Well, as punter or performer? They’re very different experiences. As a performer, this is my second time at the festival, the first being in 1986 (yes, 36 years ago) with my then double act partner, Doon Mackichan. I stayed in a single bed in the box room of an empty house, rented by students during term time (my dad wrangled it – the Catholic mafia at work). I was woken early one morning by the woman who owned/ran the house showing a potential student the room (“Here is table. Here is bed”…I pointed out that I wasn’t part of the deal.) As a punter I went a couple of years on the trot when my daughter was a student here (she wasn’t thrilled by my snoring). Edinburgh’s a wonderful city for a festival, not only beautiful but small enough to get around on foot/bike. My approach was to flick through the brochure, pause on any image that caught my eye, read the blurb and if it hooked me, I’d see it – a lucky dip. The late great Peter Brook could have been talking about the festival when he said, “A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that’s needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Human beings need to go out to play. No one cares/Some people care. Paprika crisps are the best in the world. “Missing out is what makes our choices meaningful in the first place,” wrote Olive Burkman; and, “To remember how little you matter on a cosmic timescale, can feel like putting down a heavy burden…” followed by Joe Moran’s “Your failure was like billions of other failures except that it was yours. And like those billions of other failures…it was a heroic and heartening thing.” You can judge if I’ve absorbed the lesson(s) by coming to see my show!

Tell us about your show.

Self Service was meant to premiere back in 2020, so it’s only two years late. And after 15 years away from performing, what’s another two years? (A lot! I’m not getting any younger you know!) I’m not only the creator/performer but everything else – producer, costume, props, sound design – though I’ve shamelessly asked for help from wonderful friends and family. The show draws on my background in dance, physical theatre, comedy and propensity for introspection. As another friend said, it will make you laugh and break your heart.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

PUSH (Popelei) at The Pleasance Courtyard. I saw this at the Vault Festival (London) in 2019 and loved it. Another solo show about motherhood from the other end of the telescope (to bear a child or not…) It’s funny and physical and brilliantly performed.

Also, I must recommend my fellow flat mates, stand-up Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life. Charmian was on the cabaret circuit when I was doing my double-act Rabbitt & Doon (with Doon Mackichan) in the 1980s and unlike me, has never stopped. She’s a cracker, and Maureen Langan, who I don’t know, who’s coming all the way from the States with her show, Don’t Make Me Hate You.

Finally, I must plug a talk at the International Book Festival (come on, it’s the same city) by my friend and writer, Vanessa Onwuemezi. Following her debut collection of stories, Dark Neighbourhood, she’s discussing ‘Landscapes on the Edge’ at Northside Theatre on 17 August.