It’s that time of year when we launch our annual series of Fringe preview Q & A’s. Selina Thompson talks about her show Salt.
In one sentence tell us about your show.
Last year, I retraced a route of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Triangle (Belgium, Ghana, Jamaica) on shipping freighters, and this show is the story of that journey.
What made you decide to bring a show this year?
Good question! In many ways, it is a bit of a pain for Edinburgh, it’s got quite a lot of heavy lifting to set up, and it was made for a big stage (of which there are few at the Fringe). But I wanted this show to take up space, and I wanted lots of people to see it, and I think that the Fringe has lots of complex and problematic relationships with race bubbling away within it (as it does with Capitalism and with Class and with Gender) so I think it feels politically important to bring a show that is bringing such things to the light, and place it at the heart of the Fringe.
Any advice you’ve heard or can give to anyone coming to the Fringe for the first time?
Umm. Try and treat it as a working holiday. So, do the nice things you would do for yourself, if you were having rest time: eat well (and that doesn’t just mean fruit and veg, it also means chocolate when you need it, takeaway when you please), exercise if you’re so inclined, go for walks and/or meditate to clear your head, try and get eight hours of sleep as regularly as you can. Don’t feel pressured to see all the shows all the time, take your time. Be gentle and loving with yourself, like if you were a tiny kitten. Arthur’s Seat is good. Keep checking in with people at home. If you are somebody that has specific mental health needs, or is maybe neurodiverse in a way that makes the environment of the festival difficult, make sure you have your safety mechanisms in place, and that you set and maintain your boundaries. It can feel like it’s the be all and the end all when you’re in the middle of it, but it’s not.
What makes your show stand out from all the others on offer? (Don’t say that it’s because you’re in it!)
Well I don’t really know, ‘cause I’ve not seen any of the other shows! They might all be about spending two months at sea researching the roots of colonialism for all I know, which would be surprising and very intense, but maybe not a bad thing… I’m trying to think, I guess, of what it can maybe offer in the Fringe as I understand it. For me, it is a show about space. And I think the Fringe often feels like the antithesis of that. It’s an environment that compels you to consume as much theatre as possible, and if you’re not careful, those stories merge into one. This is a show that is actively trying to resist that consumption, that tries to sit just a little bit outside of current history and current geography and politics, including the capitalism and competition that resides in a question like that… so I can’t explain how it is set apart, but I can ask you to set it apart, to allow space before it and after it, to sit with the questions it asks of you.
What show, other than your own, do you not want to miss?
Oh loads! Half Breed, Quarter Life Crisis, Benjamin Clementine at EIF, Reni Eddo Lodge at the Book Festival, Girls, Hot Brown Honey, Nina: A Story about Me and Nina Simone, Mixed Brain, Out, Evening with an Immigrant, Not I, Assisted Suicide the Musical and the Hot 8 Brass Band. All of those. Put them all in, I want to see them all, and won’t leave – and neither can those artists until I have.
Finally, the boring but essential bit…
Name of the show: Salt
Venue: Northern Stage @ Summerhall, Venue 26
Dates: 5-6 August 2017 (previews) then 7-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-26 August 2017
Image: Richard Davenport