Thursday 4 August 2016

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: 600 People and more

Photo by Ed Collier.

I’m on the train home from the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s only just started.

Later in the month I’ll be back to perform 600People at Summerhall as part of the Northern Stage programme there at 2.45pm, 18-27th (not 24th) (this is a booking link – clicky).

If you’ve read this blog before, or if you follow me/Third Angel on Twitter, you might know that 600 People has grown over the last three years from a 10 minute story, to a 30 minute spoken word piece, to a ‘full-length’ (= 65 minutes) show.

It’s been performed in quite a few different contexts already – spoken word nights, research event conferences, kinda-cabaret nights, and in theatres. But only ever for one or two shows in a week. I’m really looking forward to running it for a week and a half (it goes to Greenbelt straight after the Fringe - clicky) and properly getting a hold of the rhythm of it. I’m looking forward to talking to people about it afterwards.

It's a simple show about big ideas, and whilst it is about galactic exploration, extra terrestrial civilisations and the evolution of the entire human race, it's also (it feels to me) one of the most personal pieces I've performed. At least one reviewer has asked if it’s theatre (and then concluded it is, but I think it’s a fair question). It is a bit lecture-y, a bit stand-up-y, a bit story-telling-y. Rachael, directing, has brought more theatre to it, and more clarity as to who (me or astrophysicist Dr. Simon Goodwin) is saying what. Narratively it tells the ‘story’ of a few meetings I’ve had with Simon in Sheffield; the story of the Voyager space programme, and, er, the story of the evolution of the entire human race. And it asks what the next stage of that evolution might be.

But at its heart, it’s about faith, and what we (choose to?) believe. About our capacity to believe in Something Else Out There, something else other than ourselves. I’m pretty sure it’s funny in parts; I think it finds emotion in the science; I hope it’s optimistic.

Photo by Niall Coffey

But that’s in the future for now. I’m on the way *back* from Edinburgh because we’ve just opened Hannah Nicklin’s Equations For A Moving Body at the Fringe, also at Summerhall as part of the Northern Stage programme (11am everyday except Wednesdays until 27 August - linky). Opening at the Fringe with a press show does seem like a risky strategy (doesn’t seem, is), and I wrote about that last year (here). But, just 8 hours later, with the first review and several tweets already online, it looks like it was a risk worth taking. Hannah really rose to the occasion this morning, and produced the best performance of the show I’ve seen. If you’re in Edinburgh for the Fringe, do come start your theatre day with us.

I got to see a few other shows in this brief visit, and can happily recommend:
> Sh!t Theatre’s Letters To Windsor House – a portrait of life in the rental sector that is a reality for many, but hardly reflected in the media – very funny and performed with a brilliantly irreverent energy.
> Jenna Watt’s Faslane which takes a genuinely open and exploratory approach to the personal (and familial) complexities of the Trident debate.
> Unfolding Theatre’s Putting The Band Back Together (full disclosure – I am sometime mentor of Unfolding, but haven’t been part of the making of this show) which is a joyous and (I found) desperately sad reflection on our dreams and the few short years life gives us. (Which might not sound like a recommendation, but it really is).

Also on my list – for what it’s worth – when I’m back later in the month:
Joan by Milk Presents
Labels by Worklight Theatre
Mortal by Bridget Christie
Anything That Gives Off Light by The TEAM and National Theatre of Scotland (International Festival)
Blow Off by Julia Taudevin
Heads Up by Kieran Hurley
Nina Conti’s In Your Face
Child's Play by Kalon
The reading of the entirety of the Chilcot Report (if it's still going when I'm back)
and performing in BLANK by Nassim Soleimanpour on 26 August.

I’ll miss Daniel by Footprint, but I saw a work-in-progress in Sheffield and can definitely recommend. I'll also miss most of Forest Fringe, and of course it's worth just heading over there any day. But Action Hero's Watch Me Fall will be (is) brilliant of course, and I'm particularly sorry to miss Deborah Pearson's History History History.


Right, that's it for now. I've got four bars of Mrs Tilly's Scottish Fudge (not Tablet - top tip), that should last me until I'm back.