After an amazing response last year we have once again resurrected our Brighton Bites mini-interviews. These short and snappy Q&As offer an, occasionally witty – often hilarious, insight into the acts strutting, sailing, surfing (insert preferred form of transport here) in to join the line-up of England’s largest arts festival, Brighton Fringe. 2018 was a record-breaking year for the Fringe with over 575,000 people attending the festival; and with 2019 promising to be more inclusive than ever, our Bites aim to give you a taste of what’s in store across the 4,500+ events and performances that are on offer.
In the first of today’s Bites, Cat on a Piano Productions tell us about their show After Aulis which they’ll be performing at Laughing Horse @ The Quadrant.
Describe your show in one sentence?
Fleabag meets Greek tragedy.
Why Brighton Fringe?
Well, firstly, we absolutely love Brighton as a city – it’s such a vibrant, progressive and inclusive town – and so the show’s a brilliant excuse to spend a week here. But, more importantly, the Brighton Fringe has built a reputation as a hub for eclectic theatre, comedy dance and arts and so we wanted to be a part of that.
How did the show get to where it is today?
The play was first written as an assignment when Rowena was studying for an MA in Creative Writing. It’s inspired by an ancient Greek tragedy called Iphigenia in Aulis which is about a girl who is sacrificed at the start of the Trojan war. But Rowena is a diehard fan of Fleabag: this alchemy ended up in the creation of After Aulis which is about an acid-tongued anti-heroine called Nia, who won’t sacrifice her life for anyone.
Rowena and Emme (who plays Nia) are best friends and so, as part of the writing process, Rowena asked Emme for her perspective as an actor. Emme’s main feedback was that she had to be the first person to play Nia! Luckily for their friendship, Emme was actually perfect for the role. So, after some further development, we put it on in The Attic Theatre in Stratford last July. It was all managed by us with no real funding, so we were thrilled when it won the ‘Fringe Event of the Year’ award from Stratford Fringe. And now we’re bringing it to Brighton!
What do you think sets your show apart from all the other festival offerings?
Rowena is also a poet, and so the play is all written in contemporary (X-rated) verse, which gives Nia’s monologue a unique, lyrical energy. There’s also the fact that Emme’s not just playing Nia – she performs all the other characters of her story. So audiences say they end up forgetting that there’s really only one actor on stage.
What show do you not want to miss at this year’s Brighton Fringe (apart from your own!)?
We’re excited by Sary – a feminist-folk-horror based on the 19th century Sussex tale of ‘Ol’ Sary Weaver’. It’s showing at 8pm and that’s an hour after we finish After Aulis – so we’ll be getting changed, grabbing a quick drink, and then heading straight over if anyone wants to join us!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, or would give, for performing at a fringe festival?
This is our first time so we’ll probably have more advice afterwards. However, what we would say, is that for anyone who is contemplating take a show to a fringe festival, but worries they aren’t up to it – DO IT! We’re only two friends with a passion for this play. The fringe scene is all about fostering new work and it’s been surprisingly easy to get a show like After Aulis on stage even with no experience, money, or professional support. So, if you have a story that you think audiences will love, get cracking!
With the theme of this year’s festival being ‘DARE to Discover’, we’d like you to tell us a TRUTH – something about you or the show that fans may not know.
Nia drinks a LOT of red wine in the play and so on stage, Emme’s tipple is actually grape juice. However, when filming our trailer videos she used the real thing. There’s 4 different videos and so, after a day of filming, we ended up with some great outtakes where Emme is royally sozzled. Ask us after the show if you want a peek!
After Aulis runs at Brighton Fringe from 5-8 May 2019. Brighton Fringe takes place between 3 May – 2 June 2019; www.brightonfringe.org
Nicole Craft | Image: Contributed