“I think Napoleon planned his offensive against the Papacy like a military campaign. Manoeuvring, invasion, battle, victory, and capitulation were the set pattern of his triumphs.” – Author Ambrogio A. Caiani talks about ‘To Kidnap a Pope’

“I’d love to ask Pius VII what kept him going during his imprisonment/exile? It would be fascinating to know if his faith that he would be delivered from and survive his incarceration ever wavered.”

WHAT: The story of The Story, of Christianity as it appears in the historical record, is a constant tussle between those empowered solely by their spiritual faith and those holding supreme temporal power. For the Catholic Church, the established church of Western Europe, the multidimensional Venn diagram of overlapping spiritual and temporal interests has been a fractal labyrinth through which very few have successfully navigated. There is scarcely a polity – not an Earldom, Dukedom, Kingdom, or Empire – in which Church and state have ever coexisted in perfect balance without the unfolding, all consuming drama of a Beckett or a Borgia, a Henry or an Honorius. Since the fall of Rome, the history of Europe has always been, in one sense or another, the history of Church and state.

Amid the aftershocks of the political and intellectual earthquake known to us as the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and Pope Pius VII (1742 -1823) attempted to reconcile the latter’s old church with the former’s new state. The early signs were promising. Together in 1801 they formalized an agreement, but relations between them rapidly deteriorated. In 1809, to the horror of the faithful across the continent, Napoleon ordered the Pope’s arrest. Pius’ imprisonment, which would vary in severity and isolation, lasted until Napoleon’s fall in 1814.

In his pioneering account of the tempestuous relationship between the Emperor and his most unyielding opponent Ambrogio Caiani draws on original findings in the Vatican and other European archives. He uncovers the nature of Catholic resistance to Napoleon’s aggression; charts Napoleon’s approach to Papal power; and reveals how the Emperor attempted to subjugate the church to his particular vision of modernity.

“In gripping, vivid prose, Caiani brings to life the struggle for power that would shape modern Europe. It all makes for a historical read which is both original and enjoyable.” – Antonia Fraser, author of ‘Marie Antoinette’.

WHO: Ambrogio A. Caiani is senior lecturer in modern European history at the University of Kent. He is the author of ‘Louis XVI and the French Revolution 1789-1792‘.

MORE? Here!


Why ‘To Kidnap a Pope’?

Well, the title is meant to provide the reader with the basic storyline of the book: in 1809 Napoleon ordered that Pius VII be removed from Rome against his will. He would remain the French Emperor’s prisoner for nearly five years. I have always been fascinated by the politics of religion. The more I researched this topic in the Vatican Archives, and National Archives in Paris, the more I became convinced that its legacy cast a long shadow over the Catholic Church. Indeed, the age of revolutions catalysed the decline in church and state relations that had its roots in the long eighteenth century. The experience of persecution under the French Revolution and Napoleon ensured that the Papacy would view modern states with unconcealed distrust.

Biographers are often asked if they came to like and / or respect their subjects. How do you feel about these two personalities now compared to when you started out? Would you want to share a small and remote holiday cottage with either for an indeterminate period?

Ultimately, I learned to respect both my protagonists as men of principle. Regrettably for them their most deeply held convictions set them on a collision course that was to have disastrous consequences for Europe and the Church. If I had to spend a wet weekend with them…. that’s easy …. Napoleon would definitely be better company than the taciturn and contemplative, former monk, Barnaba Chiaramonti, who was elected Pope in March 1800. I imagine that it would have been tricky to pry even the smallest of conversations out of Pius. He was a deeply religious man, and I am not sure he was that keen on human company. His companions tended to be theologians and confessors. He only really spoke freely to a tiny circle of friends and family.

Whereas Napoleon adored conversation and, when he was not in one of his dark moods, he was, apparently, very good company and a scintillating conversationalist (you just have to read the memorial de Sainte-Hélène to realise that this was the case). Having said this, I suspect that a hyperactive guest, who barely slept four hours a night, like the French Emperor would have tried the endurance skills and energy levels of even the most consummate host. Despite this snag, I think I would be willing to risk it.

How does Napoleon’s struggle with the Papacy of Pius VII stack up against his more famous military campaigns in terms of planning, execution, and adaption to shifting circumstances? Did he have a particular idea of what ultimate victory might look like?

That’s a great question, I think Napoleon planned his offensive against the Papacy like a military campaign. Manoeuvring, invasion, battle, victory, and capitulation were the set pattern of his triumphs. He, probably, expected that he could follow a similar grand design, and ultimately subordinate the Catholic Church to his will. Yet, like in Spain and Calabria, he met a determined group of ecclesiastical resisters, especially the Pope, who simply refused to concede defeat and yield. Simply put, Chiaramonti, unlike a Habsburg or Hohenzollern sovereign, was unresponsive to bullying and military intimidation. Pius’ weapons and provisions were spiritual. He organised a mass campaign of passive resistance that made French rule in the papal states next to impossible. Such tactics prove much more effective in resisting Napoleon than brute force.

Neither Napoleon or Pius were especially modern political thinkers. Neither believed that political legitimacy rests exclusively on the consent of the governed. Keynes described Newton as the last magician rather than the first scientist. Did you ever find yourself wondering if you were chronicling a late medieval struggle rather than an early modern chapter of European history?

Well you say that … but I do wonder if anything, at the end of the day, is really that modern. Napoleon often drew parallels between himself and the medieval investitures crisis of the eleventh century. For example, the struggle that pitted Gregory VII against the Emperor Henry IV, or that which saw Philip IV, possibly, murder Boniface VIII bear remarkable analogies to the events of my book. Yet, by the same logic, the investiture crisis that set Communist China against the Holy See, in the early twenty first century, bears some, loose, though striking parallels to the Napoleonic Empire’s relationship with the Catholic Church. Governments, whether ancient or modern, have and will continue to put pressure on the Church to yield to the power of the state. A harmonious relationship between church and state remains an elusive objective even to this day.

What lessons from this period could the Papacy have absorbed and applied when it came to dealing with 20th century dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler?

Let me start by saying that in general concordats have a good track record in the long history of the Catholic Church. When both contracting parties have upheld the bargain, then, these treaties often created harmonious periods in church and state relations. This was particularly the case in nineteenth century Latin America. Such agreements cemented the Church’s position, rather than undermining it, in South America. A major problem emerges when one party is ‘not playing by the rules.’ The soft power of the church unsupported by hard power of the state could only go so far. The church negotiated these agreements in good faith, but it did not possess the means to force secular states to adhere to the terms of the concordats it signed. The dictators of the twentieth century proved unscrupulous and manipulative in their selective reading of the concordats they had ratified. Like Napoleon, they showed little respect for the Church’s prerogatives and position.

Unlike the French Emperor, they did not kidnap a Pope and exile him (although apparently at one point Hitler did consider kidnapping Pius XII according to one author). Ultimately, there is no easy lesson for the Papacy to draw from the Napoleonic period. Perhaps focusing on its pastoral mission, and avoiding politics where possible, could only be to the church’s advantage.

You express an admiration for Marie Louise, Napoleon’s second wife and the mother of his son. Why has she been so overlooked? Why does she deserve a greater share of the limelight?

I think we tend to be dismissive of arranged marriages in our society as they lack the romance and passion of courtship. In consequence, I guess, the public dismisses the marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise as mere politics. This eclipses the fact that Marie Louise and Napoleon formed a notable political partnership. Unlike Josephine, she served as regent of France in 1813-1814 while the Emperor was on campaign. This was certainly a token of the trust and esteem Napoleon placed on her. Indeed, as Michael Broers has stated, she attended the council of state and was given a good education. After Napoleon’s fall, she became Duchess of Parma where she is remembered as an enlightened ruler. Under her beneficent guidance, Parma achieved some of the highest literacy rates in Italy, and she was a renowned patron of the arts, especially Italian opera. It has even been suggested that the quality controls and production standards for Parma ham were inspired by her. I also quite like that Napoleon was only husband number one (out of three), so she clearly was a strong woman who put her stamp on an age ruled by men. I do wish somebody would write a political biography of this formidable princess.

If you could directly ask one question of each of your protagonists what would you ask them and what answers would you expect?

I’d love to ask Pius VII what kept him going during his imprisonment/exile? It would be fascinating to know if his faith that he would be delivered from and survive his incarceration ever wavered. I suspect I would not be likely to get an honest answer. Once freed, the Pope claimed his emancipation was a clear manifestation of divine providence. We have no real source with which access to Pius VII’s inner most thoughts which is frustrating for a historian.

To Napoleon I would ask why he wavered (which was out of character) on what to do with his prisoner? Why he wrote to Fouche, his minister of police, claiming that taking the Pope into custody had never been his intention (a manifest lie)? Perhaps I would also ask if deep down he had some lingering belief in the Catholic God… I suspect we’ll never know.

If you could possess one artefact mentioned in your narrative, what would it be and why?

Oh dear, I am not very good when it comes to the ‘material turn’ in history or the current obsession some historians have with knick-knacks. But I would love to possess some of the notes and fragments of paper that Pius smuggled out of Savona, in the seams of his cassock, to communicate with the outside world. It would be fun to spend hours trying to decipher and reassemble his messages to loyal Catholics across Europe.

Was Pius VII an effective Pope? Does he have any wider claim to fame other than having reigned and suffered in interesting times?

Oh, definitely! He was, to an extent, the architect of the Catholic revival of the nineteenth century. The re-establishment of the Jesuit order in 1814, the rediscovery of baroque/popular piety and the drive towards Marianism, can all be attributed to his post-Napoleonic reign. He was determined to not only ensure the church survived the Napoleonic episode, but prospered after one of its darkest hours. He showed an iron determination that the Papacy should retain its central Italian principality. This turned out to be a lost cause and left something of a burdensome legacy. He created a church that was spiritually vibrant. Indeed, numbers of vocations and worshippers increased in rural Europe in the decades following his pontificate. Yet, at the same time, he left much unfinished business with the modern secular state. He would not be the last Pope forced to leave Rome and lose his principality.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a political history of Global Catholicism during the age of revolutions 1700-1903. It is a great challenge but must say I am loving every minute of it!

LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

‘Bonny and Clyde’ (Town and Gown, 3-6 November)

“Edge does authenticity like Sir Francis Chichester did knots. He’s intricate, solid, reliable – as perfect a pairing with Tapako-Brown as when gin met tonic.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars (Nae Bad)

Go big or go home. Karl Steele’s gone big. Two tons big. Two tons of building sand delivered to central Cambridge and then wheelbarrowed, personalmente di persona, by The Town and Gown’s in-house director up, up, and up to the black box in which he has framed Adam Peck’s #notthemusical portraits of Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (b. 1 October, 1910 – d. 23 May, 1934) and Clyde Chestnut Barrow (b. 24 March, 1909 – d. 23 May, 1934).

Bonnie and Clyde are so famous that you know who they are even if you know nothing about them. You won’t have learned very much more as you exit this show. Peck’s script is thinner than what they fed to Oliver Twist while he was still at the orphanage. Least said soonest mended. So in brief, Bonnie and her beau are (presumably) in their hideout, (presumably) recovering from a recentish gun battle, (definitely) a bit nuts, (definitely) squabbling like only people in love can.

We enter to find Steele’s sand as the stage on which the drama will play out. It brings a depth and physicality to the piece that must be seen to be believed. Actors Sharni Tapako-Brown and James Edge are toe-deep in the stuff. Brooding. Bickering. Bullshitting. Tapako-Brown brings a Black Annis, banshee-ite energy that is ferocious, frightening, and full on. She walks softly while never letting go of the big crazy stick. Tapako-Brown glides across the sand more elegant than Audrey Hepburn juggling bottles of Chanel °5. Yet she’ll turn on a sixpence, 0 to 60 faster than a Bugatti Chiron. It’s a hell hath no fury performance that’s not to be missed by anyone who’s ever wondered what it might be like to watch a Hollywood star of the old school live on stage.

At the crease, batman James Edge must play over after over with (seemingly) no idea of what kind of ball will be bowled at him next. Bouncers, inswingers, yorkers, and then the deadly slower paced deliveries that really show off Tapako-Brown’s range and skill. Edge might have played defensively, given up the sandy ground to let his colleague strut her stuff. Instead he gives as good as he gets modulating his performance from sleepy lion to buzzed-up fox. Edge does authenticity like Sir Francis Chichester did knots. He’s intricate, solid, reliable – as perfect a pairing with Tapako-Brown as when gin met tonic.

Get your coats on. Come for the set. Stay for the performances. Despite the script, you won’t be disappointed.


Reviewer: Dan Lentell

ALL our Town & Gown coverage? Click here!

“I don’t think the CSA would have won independence had Breckinridge bene president. No one was going to make that happen given the determination of Lincoln and his people.” – Author William C. Davis talks about ‘An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government’

“I do suspect that by the time of the flight from Richmond, Davis had become intermittently delusional, as he could not see, what all around him saw.”

WHAT: “A dramatic retelling of four months in 1865…; A true story full of political treachery and physical adventure; Author is arguably the foremost authority on the American Civil War; In February, 1865, the end was clearly in sight for the Confederacy. Lee was defeated at Gettysburg, Grant’s victory at Memphis had cut the South in two, and Sherman’s brutal march through Georgia had destroyed what was left of the Southern economy. With the land shattered, people starving, and no hope left, the reality for the secessionist government was grim. An Honorable Defeat is the story of four months in 1865, during which the South surrendered, the North triumphed, and President Lincoln was assassinated, told with style and with absolute historical accuracy.”

WHO: “William Charles “Jack” Davis (born 1946) is an American historian who was a professor of history at Virginia Tech and the former director of programs at that school’s Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. Specializing in the American Civil War, Davis has written more than 40 books on the American Civil War and other aspects of early southern U.S. history such as the Texas Revolution.[1] He is the only three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Prize for Confederate history and was awarded the Jules and Frances Landry Award for Southern history.”

MORE? Here!


Why ‘An Honorable Defeat’?

I have always found the story of the last days of the CSA government and the flight of Davis and the cabinet to be fascinating. Inevitable, tragic, at times comic, and at others suspenseful.

Did the CSA ever have a viable path to victory via an exclusively military route?

In a word, No. That is to say, I see no way the CSA was going to win independence on the battlefield so long as Lincoln and the people of the Union were willing to keep fighting, which they showed they were from the outset. Only massive foreign intervention might have turned the tables, and no European power regarded having an independent CSA as worth the potential cost of being at war with the Union’s huge army and modern navy.

Was Jefferson Davis too quick on the draw in 1861? Should he (could he) have exhausted
any of the other options – such as attempting to establish the legal right of states to exit the Union in the courts – before firing on Fort Sumter?

I think so. In fact, in February-March 19861, I think the CSA’s best chance was in the Supreme Court, which had a pro-Southern majority on the bench. Instead of seizing arsenals and other clearly warlike acts, they could have filed suits through the federal district court in Richmond or elsewhere, which they surely would have won, and then Washington would have appealed it to the supreme court. Of course, like Andrew Jackson before him, Lincoln could simply have ignored a court ruling.

Could Davis have made a worse job of leading his government into exile? Does this chapter typify his wartime presidency, or did everything in his public life become him EXCEPT the leaving of it? Were you ever tempted into thinking he was trying to be captured and put on trial?

I do suspect that by the time of the flight from Richmond, Davis had become intermittently delusional, as he could not see, what all around him saw. He was simply too invested in the CSA mentally and emotionally to admit it was dead. Consequently, I think it possible that he even hoped to be killed during the flight rather than outlive it. Failing that, he very definitely wanted a trial so he could make the case that secession was lawful, and there he and the seceding states were not traitors. Fear of such a court ruling was a bit part of why Washington chose not to prosecute him.

Who was John C. Breckinridge? You seem to suggest that had he been at the helm the CSA
might have stood a better chance of winning its independence. Why’s that?

I don’t think the CSA would have won independence had Breckinridge bene president. No one was going to make that happen given the determination of Lincoln and his people. However, I think it probable that had he been president in 1865, he would have negotiated a peaceful surrender and gotten some concessions in return that might have made the transition to reconstruction easier on the South.

“He had so large a hand in making Southern character, as it existed before the war, that he is in great measure responsible for the war.” Was Mark Twain right about Walter Scott?

Twain, as often, was being glib and hyperbolic.

In Europe we live our daily lives amid the physical reminders of our past political follies and once trendy cultural foibles. Do you think Americans could ever learn to live with their past rather than in it?

Perhaps not. We—or our leaders—are too fond of making political and social capital out of misstating the past to further contemporary aims.

If you could personally possess one physical item described in your narrative, what would it
be and why?

I’d like to have the pocket compass Breckinridge carried. I believe it is at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, though not on exhibit.

If you could interview just one character from your drama (without changing the course of
history), who would they be, what would you ask them, and what would you tell them?

Breckinridge of course. I have studied him for more than fifty years, and still find him interesting. I would ask him his innermost feelings about slavery and secession. He was opposed to both personally, but regarded them as lawful and therefore beyond interference. I wonder if he let ambition cloud his judgment when he went over to the CSA.

What are you currently working on?

No books. I am restoring a 1928 Pierce-Arrow convertible coupe to running order. Don’t really know what I’m doing, but I am enjoying it!

LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

+3 Interview: Flanker Origami

“This first hybrid edition of the Fringe festival is juggling with lot of challenges and opportunities, and it is great that it opened to online performances as there is so much experimentation going on.”

WHO: Bianca Mastrominico: Performer, co-creator

WHAT: “An artistic couple expose their daily rituals and lockdown coping routines, digitally unleashing two eccentric performance personas bent on transforming their Edinburgh home into a glittery alternative reality. Through dressing up, dancing, disembodied animations, forced karaoke and improbable ASMR storytelling, they are on a quest to enhance their own wellbeing and yours! Stranded on Zoom, their relationship reveals a tender and funny, if slightly disturbing, world of online intimacy on the edge of misunderstanding and manipulation. Award-winning Organic Theatre returns to the Fringe for a digital world premiere.”

WHERE: Fringe Online – Zoom (Venue 362) 

WHEN: VARIES (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

We have presented work at the EdFringe before and we are an Edinburgh-based company so even when we haven’t performed we have been lucky to have it on our doorstep – it’s addictive!

This first hybrid edition of the Fringe festival is juggling with lot of challenges and opportunities, and it is great that it opened to online performances as there is so much experimentation going on. This is very exciting and enriching, and also fair for artists who cannot afford to travel right now. It feels like the Fringe is returning to its origins, with theatre-makers taking the lead over the needs of venue programming, and we are thrilled to be part of this new iteration. Besides, we’re working from home so it’s cost-effective…

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

Like many other theatre makers, we found ourselves confronting the need to be creative, learning new ways of working and making the most of the constraints of being ‘at home’. With Flanker Origami we are affirming the power of creative action over habits forced upon us by the health crisis and our home has now been transformed into a (rather messy) digital stage… We couldn’t have imagined an emergency that would have forced us to reconsider how we make, perform and meet our audiences, as well as how we live our lives, and Flanker Origami is our joyous, slightly dark but liberating response to the time that was lost to fear and shock.

Tell us about your show.

Flanker Origami is a ‘home-specific’ performance, so John Dean and I are inviting our audiences to gaze, imagine, and be voyeurs of our personal spaces in our real house. There isn’t a narrative, but a roller-coaster of dynamics between our two eccentric alter egos Flanker and Origami, out of which emerges a darkly comedic and – at times – grotesque journey into the collective psychological drama of the lockdowns. Flanker (and) Origami are seen stranded on Zoom in their own house, with no other escape than playing out preposterous online wellbeing routines, under the illusion of healing themselves and others.

The performance is a world premiere produced by Organic Theatre, it has been devised for digital audiences on Zoom and will be live-streamed daily during the last week of the festival. The process started with adapting our studio work during the pandemic and once we understood that this year’s Fringe was including a digital programme, we decided it was a good fit.

We’re not alone in the show, as we have animated replicas of ourselves in 2d rotoscope animations by artist and animator Cristiana Messina, and a fantastic technical collaborator Chiara Menozzi. It’s a weird experience that we live in the same city and we only ever see each other online…

Organic Theatre started in 2002 as an intercultural performance lab, devising and touring performances and workshops in the UK and internationally – we have performed in theatres, art galleries, museums, streets, barns, village halls and festivals. Our processes are collaborative, interdisciplinary and based on extended periods of research and development. In Flanker Origami we dance, our performances are physical, but there is also a strong emphasis on using text which is improvised and becomes scripted as part of our final performance. We like to create on our feet, through improvisation and repetition of the bits that made sense to us, so the resulting work feels somehow in-between art and life.

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

Supporting online work is crucial as many artists are experimenting with the digital medium and what came out of necessity has become a new way of engaging with audiences, producers and press, possibly beyond the Fringe. We particularly recommend the curated programme at Summerhall, which gives a lot of food for thought in terms of creative hybrid exploration. Both these shows play imaginatively and topically with online forms:

> >  iMelania – Summerhall online – Gather.Town
> >  Knot: The Trilogy, Summerhall online – Darkfield App


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

+3 Interview: Triple Bypass: Three Ten-Minute Plays About Living for Death and Dying for Life

“The magical thing about fringe is for so many of us, once we attend or become involved in any way, the urge to put up your own work becomes not only irresistible, but it doesn’t seem so impossible any more.”

WHO: Deena MP Ronayne, writer and producer

WHAT: “Deena MP Ronayne’s award-winning debut as a writer takes audiences on an emotional journey ranging from fear and hate to delight and joy. Seeking Dignity is a suspenseful drama with a twist in its tail; Close To Black sees two young women who meet as strangers, but discover they have a lot in common; and Tango-ed Web is a laugh-out-loud black comedy about fatal attraction. Filmed live and fully-staged in an empty Aberdeen Community Theatre (South Dakota), the plays are captioned throughout.”

WHERE: Online@theSpaceUK (Venue 132) 

WHEN: On Demand (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I am ‘attending’ virtually this year. I visited Edinburgh for the first time as a tourist in 2011 and I attended the EdFringe for the first time in 2018 as a scouting producer, disguised as a tourist! At that time, I had just produced my first show at the Orlando Fringe Festival (‘Shakespeare’s Ghostbusters’), so I was delighted to be present at EdFringe. What I loved the most was all the street performances and how easy it was to connect with other artists. The magical thing about fringe is for so many of us, once we attend or become involved in any way, the urge to put up your own work becomes not only irresistible, but it doesn’t seem so impossible any more.

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

I think I’ve really developed my leadership style since then. I prefer to lead by quiet example and empowering my team. It also didn’t take me long to realize that part of leadership is paying for things you didn’t break, apologizing for things you didn’t do, and offering an explanation for things you didn’t say. It can be frustrating and isolating, but my favourite part of that learning curve is realizing that mistakes happen, and they are ok and important as long as you take earnest ownership of the occurrence and the solution.

Tell us about your show.

I am producing my show through my company, Hardly Working Promotions LL, and it is also the first play I have written. It is called ‘Triple Bypass: Three Ten Minute Plays About Living for Death & Dying for Life’. It consists of one heavy drama, one fan fiction, and one comedy, all with a different take on life and death. There are trigger warnings, because it deals with some heavy issues, but it ends with the light-hearted comedy that hopefully leaves audience members with overall enjoyment. This show has gone through nine virtual festivals before EdFringe, picking up three awards in the process (Most Viewed – Elgin Winter Fest, Producers Award – Front Row Fringe, Spirit of the Fringe Never in a Box – Front Row Fringe) and after EdFringe, it will be available virtually through The Boulder Fringe, The St Lou Fringe, The Lahti Fringe, and The Melbourne Fringe. My hope is to bring this show to several festivals live with local cast and crew members in 2022, including Edinburgh. I encourage everyone to please feel free to contact me if you are interested in being involved in one of the live productions in the future.

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

There are so many great options for shows produced, performed and written by women this year. Check out ‘Afterparty’, ‘Hitler’s Tasters’ and ‘Sweet FA’ for some women empowered work!


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

+3 Interview: Patricia Gets Ready (For a Date With the Man That Used to Hit Her)

“I’m half Scottish and so my Dad took my when I was very little to just walk amongst the buzz the fringe creates, and then when I got older, I went a few times as a ‘gals trip’ with my mum. It’s such a great festival; the perfect mix of chaotic and focused.”

WHO: Martha Watson Allpress: Writer

WHAT: “Patricia has spent a year crafting a kick-ass speech while recovering from an abusive relationship. But when she bumps into her ex on the street, and accidentally agrees to dinner with him that night, she’s got some big decisions to make; what to wear? What to say? And whether or not to go? Join Patricia as she gets ready for the date, tells stories of her past and how it has affected her present, and looks honestly at her future.”

WHERE: Pleasance at EICC – Lomond Theatre (Venue 150) 

WHEN: Varies (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

It is! I’ve been before as an attendee, but not as part of a show. I’m half Scottish and so my Dad took my when I was very little to just walk amongst the buzz the fringe creates, and then when I got older, I went a few times as a ‘gals trip’ with my mum. It’s such a great festival; the perfect mix of chaotic and focused.

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

That your priorities are never what you think they are. Oddly I have found that in a rather painful way, the numerous lockdowns and the entire pandemic has helped me take pressure off myself creatively. Over the past eighteen months I’ve been so occupied, thinking about my family and well-being, that when I returned to writing it felt so much more like a choice, rather than an obligation.

Tell us about your show.

So Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her) is a one hour, one woman show that follows Patricia getting ready in her bedroom, after accidentally agreeing to dinner with her ex that night. It’s a funny, heart breaking, and honest hour with a genuinely likeable woman who’s trying to understand herself a little better. Initially it ran at the above pub theatre in Kenington; The White Bear; and it transferred from their to the VAULTS festival in 2020. We snuck our run in just before the first lockdown which is sort of insane?

We have the wonder team behind it. Patricia has always felt like a culmination of all the right people at just the right time; written by Martha Watson Allpress, directed by Kaleya Baxe, performed by Angelina Chudi, produced by Nur Khairiyah and the tech is done by Steven Frost. It’s a small team for an intimate show, and everyone handles the piece, and each other, with real delicacy and care. Our team’s created something really special.

After the fringe, the hope is the show gets the opportunity to tour; I think taking this specific story to different areas will be so fascinating, as it’ll resonate different everywhere. It’s always exciting to think of the conversations that happen after the curtain call, and these’ll be so different and unique to each place. The more chat the better!

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

Oh my gosh! There’s so much incredible stuff to be seen, and the Pleasance’s line up kind of floored me with excitement. But honestly, I think walk the Royal Mile, find a poster that looks vaguely interesting but you have no idea what the show is or about, and GO SEE THAT. Surprise yourself. It’s always fun!


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

+3 Interview: Screen 9

image of event

“Some of our company have been to the Fringe as performers for different productions, punters, industry members and others have never been—so it’s wonderful to go up as a collective.”

WHO: Kate Barton: Writer and Associate Director

WHAT: “At the Colorado premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, a community was torn apart by gun violence. But while their hearts were broken, their community was not. This hard-hitting verbatim piece follows the survivors remarkable true testimonies of the infamous Batman Shootings as they attempt to respond and recover from the tragedy. This is their story and every word is real. Piccolo Theatre is a bold new company, creating cutting edge and thought-provoking theatre. The Pleasance is proud to present Screen 9 as this year’s recipient of the Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve.”

WHERE: Pleasance at EICC – Lomond Theatre (Venue 150) 

WHEN: Varies (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is Piccolo Theatre’s debut professional show. We’re so excited to bring this show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; as a new, transatlantic theatre company we can’t wait to bring Screen 9 to the varied festival audience. Some of our company have been to the Fringe as performers for different productions, punters, industry members and others have never been—so it’s wonderful to go up as a collective. This show was supposed to tour in 2020, so after a year in pause (and more time in R&D and rehearsals), we are thrilled to present it to the public after our previews at the Kings Head Theatre and Durham Fringe Festival. Edinburgh in August is an incredibly eclectic, artistic and inspiring place to be—we can’t wait to be part of its story this year.

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

This show has grown substantially from the first 10-minute sharing we did at The Pleasance in February 2020. We are partnered with Survivors Empowered, a charity set up by the parents of Jessica Ghawi, a young woman killed in the shooting. Working and supporting the incredible work they do with survivors of gun violence across the county is truly remarkable. They have been a source of wisdom, inspiration and encouragement for the project—and their level of generosity has been amazing. I guess, on a micro-level, we have also learnt how to cope as a company through an international pandemic, including how to run an entire rehearsal week on Zoom (having been pinged by the NHS app!). Since 2019, we have learnt a lot about reclaiming stories and spaces, and we feel very privileged as an ensemble to tell their story, rather than giving fame to serial or spree killers, as is too often done in theatres and media.

Tell us about your show.

It’s a verbatim show about the infamous Colorado Batman shootings in 2012, with every line being resourced from blog posts, trial coverage, and speaking to survivors, parents, and American citizens. The play creates four fictional characters based off real people to tell the survivors’ story, who find themselves in a world where the media focuses on the perpetrator and on the new shooting, often leaving the victims behind. It’s a powerful true story of survival and about finding joy, hope and community. It’s our debut show as a company, and after two preview runs, it’ll be premiering this August in Edinburgh. The dream would be to continue sharing this story next year to mark the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, and to take it to more venues and an international audience.

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

Absolutely get your tickets to Patricia Gets Ready (With A Man Who Used To Hit Her). It’s the other Charlie Hartill Award show and carries a very human and important message. It’s definitely going to be a hit! For something lighter than Screen 9 and Patricia, I’d say Austentatious! It’s a really fun Jane Austen improv show that only gets better year after year!


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

+3 Interview: PUSH

“The huge challenge of Edfringe is probably a big part of what makes it such an amazing and satisfying experience overall.”

WHO: Tamsin Hurtado Clarke & Scarlett Plouviez: Performer & Director

WHAT: “A hell of a lot can happen in the time you await the results of a pregnancy test. This is the story of a woman staring down the barrel of motherhood, torn between her own ambivalence… and an uncontrollable urge to push. Award-winning Popelei burst out of isolation and onto your screens with their darkly comic theatre production, reimagined for film. Blistering honesty, exhilarating choreography, and one extremely knocked-up performer.”

WHERE: Pleasance Online (Venue 117) 

WHEN: On Demand (40 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This will be our second time as part of Edfringe. We first showed up at Edinburgh in 2014 with our show Manuelita which ran at the Underbelly and won a Three Weeks Editors’ Award. Our memory is a little hazy (blame the obligatory post-show beers) but we certainly remember it as a rollercoaster ride, with plenty of highs and lows. The huge challenge of Edfringe is probably a big part of what makes it such an amazing and satisfying experience overall. That said, we wish it were much more accessible to a wider number of artists (or that we could afford to go every year!) and, for that reason, we are very excited about Edfringe’s recent incorporation of digital shows.

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

Patience and perseverance. What else can you do in the face of a pandemic when theaters are closed and all your audience are behind doors? We waited it out and we kept creating in the ways we could, making audio and video work for audiences to engage with at home, including our digital monologue series Women In Lockdown and our location-based audio series Press Play (Available via our website, https://www.popelei.com/shows).

Tell us about your show.

PUSH is a show that Popelei created in early 2020, which previewed at Vault Festival the same year. As women in our 30s considering our own fertility, we thought: stories always focus on the practical issues of motherhood, but what about the more emotional and existential concerns? What does it feel like to stop and consider the hugely different paths your life could take? We were so excited to take PUSH up to the Fringe as part of The Pleasance programme in August 2020 but of course, that was not to be. But now, we are back and more excited than ever to have a newly-formed filmed version of the show which will hopefully reach audiences from all over the world who want to experience the Fringe from wherever they are.

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

SEE EVERYTHING! This is a chance to experience many of the plethora of shows of the Fringe in a more accessible and affordable online format. Our wonderful friends The Wardrobe Ensemble are presenting The Great Gatsby which has taken on a digital life after live shows were cancelled in January, and which Tamsin from Popelei happens to also star in. Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with a man that used to hit her) also looks incredible. We were lucky enough to see the brilliant Gobby live and we will certainly be re-watching on the sofa with a bag of popcorn.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Fruitcake – Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward

“I went back to nursing for 14 months over the pandemic and learned bugger all, except that I don’t look good in a nurse’s tunic. I look like I’ve nicked it, basically.”

WHO: Rob Gee: Writer and performer

WHAT: “From the writer and performer of 2019 Bedfringe sell-put show Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunnit Comic, poet and reformed mental health nurse Rob Gee presents a user-friendly guide to losing the plot.

Fruitcake charts a night shift on an acute psychiatric ward, seen through the eyes of a jaded nurse who hears the voice of God – a kindly Jamaican woman – who gives him ten benevolent commandments to help him through the shift; and life.

Fruitcake is based on twelve years Rob spent working as a registered nurse in psychiatric units around the UK and Australia.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre

WHEN: 31 July 2021 @ 18:00 (60mins)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

I did the 2019 Bedford Fringe with my show Forget Me Not, which is a whodunnit set on an Alzheimer’s Ward. It sold out and we all had a lovely time, by which I mean me and the audience.
This will be my 102nd international fringe festival. For me, the best ones are less like trade fairs (Edinburgh, Adelaide) and more like actual fringe festivals (Orlando, Winnipeg), although they’re all good in one way or another. Bedford’s a lovely one to do because it’s very well organised and everyone’s friendly.

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

I went back to nursing for 14 months over the pandemic and learned bugger all, except that I don’t look good in a nurse’s tunic. I look like I’ve nicked it, basically.

Tell us about your show.

Fruitcake charts a night shift on an acute mental health ward, seen through the eyes of a jaded nurse who hears the voice of God. In this case God is a kindly Jamaican woman who gives him ten benevolent commandments to help him through the shift; and life. It’s won Best of Fest at Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals, Best Spoken Word at Minnesota Fringe and Best Solo Comedy at Buxton fringe.

The show is based on the 12 years I spent working as a registered nurse in mental health units around the UK and Australia before becoming a full-time writer and performer. When I first wrote it, I performed it to an audience of ex-patients. I was really nervous! Thankfully the feedback was very positive, it was a huge relief.

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

Gerard Harris (A Tension to Detail) is great. It’s like watching someone fail to organise their thoughts in the most entertaining way possible. A very witty fella too.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!

Bedfringe 2021 Interview: Tremaine Dawkins

“Be prepared for audience interaction, jazzy improvisations, exquisite harmonies & melodies that you can’t resist swaying along too.”

WHO: Tremaine: Singer-songwriter & perfomer

WHAT: “Tremaine will be performing a soulful acoustic set on the Garden Stage, accompanied by her backing vocalists. The set will include a mix of original songs from her album & stylish renditions of some classic. A performance & experience not to be missed.

Tremaine has a voice that will stop you in your tracks. She is also an exceptional songwriter. Her style is a unique brand of Soul/Gospel -encouraging, heartfelt lyrics laid over beautiful jazzy chords, wrapped in a soulful groove. Her impressive vocal range, improvisations & intricate harmonies, make Tremaine an exhilarating live performer.

Tremaine draws influences from Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder & Sade.”

WHERE: Quarry Theatre Garden

WHEN: 24 & 31 July 2021 @ 15:00 (60mins)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Bedfringe?

In 2019, I gave a heart-warming vocal & piano performance on the Garden Stage & I’m back again this year. This time I’ve brought some backing vocalists with me, to really add a new dynamic. I’m also doing two shows this year. So plenty of opportunity to enjoy some acoustic Soul music in the open air.

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

Since my first performance, I’ve been recording my second album which is due for release early next year. I’ve also been focusing on developing my style – mixing my influences of Motown, Soul, traditional Gospel & modern Jazz to create something new.

Tell us about your show.

My show is an exhilarating live acoustic performance of Soul/Gospel music. I perform both original songs from my debut album ‘But for the Grace of God’ & re-workings of some well-known classics. It’s me, my piano & backing vocalists on stage – outside in the sunshine singing encouraging, heartfelt lyrics laid over beautiful jazzy chords, wrapped in a soulful groove. Be prepared for audience interaction, jazzy improvisations, exquisite harmonies & melodies that you can’t resist swaying along too.

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

Be sure to check out The Goldentones after you’ve seen my show. They are also performing on The Garden Stage, after me on Sat 24th July at 7.30pm. They are a great group of singers performing operatic to Pop covers. A performance to definitely check out.


LIKE WHAT YOU JUST READ? FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! FIND US ON FACEBOOK! OR SIGN UP TO OUR MAILING LIST!

INTERESTED IN BEING INTERVIEWED TOO? CLICK HERE!