Next up in our Spotlight feature is The B*easts, which previews at London’s Bush Theatre 26-28 July 2017 and then runs Edinburgh Festival from 3-27 August 2017. I caught up with writer and actor Monica Dolan:
Describe your show in three words.
Do they have to make sense together? “Sexualisation of Culture” or “Money”, “Advertising” and “Children”.
Is this your first Edinburgh Fringe performance experience?
Yes and I’m a little stressed – I am just in the middle of learning this gargantuan tale - there are a lot of words! It is a fast-paced journey to the Fringe where lots of tasks and decisions can pop up at any point. As it is the first time I have done it, I am not expecting or ready for most of them. When I tell artists who have taken on the festival before that I am heading up there to perform this year, an interesting change comes over their face and a settled look of foreboding, as if I am going to discover something no one can describe or explain…!
Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the Fringe?
I have already booked to see Sara Pascoe (Sara is in W1A too), Reginald D Hunter, Richard Herring and Richard Gadd: Monkey See, Monkey Do. I also plan to see Focus On: Lola and Jo, Rose Matafeo and Max and Ivan, and will be very sorry to miss Mark Thomas and Shappi Khorsandi who are both on in the same time slot as me. I am looking forward to listening out and hearing what people are the most excited about theatre-wise. There are usually a few shows everyone is talking about.
How do you feel to be performing at Underbelly Cowgate?
I am delighted to be performing at my venue! I am performing in the Big Belly, Underbelly, Cowgateat 6 o’clock which was beyond my wildest dreams! I am not sure quite where I thought I would end up, but I certainly did not imagine having such a high-profile slot in one of the big venues.
Who or what are your inspirations?
Most of my friends are involved in acting and theatre, so there seems to be a reasonably constant momentum towards creativity from being with the people I know and love. I go to the theatre all the time. I think the thing that boosts my energy in it all is trying new challenges and exercising new skills and the desire to stretch myself. My enthusiasm comes from a love of ideas and being with people, collaboration, problem-solving and making things work.
What is your secret to surviving the intense, fast pace of the fringe?
I will tell you if and when I have survived it – or maybe you will have to be satisfied with that “interesting change and settled look of foreboding” which comes over my face, once I have got through it and discovered whatever “the thing” is that you experience there! Certainly I plan to eat well and not to drink heavily or have too many late nights, but I imagine I will have to be very disciplined to stick to that in that kind of atmosphere and with so much going on.
What are the future plans for your show?
I am delighted to be able to say that Samuel French are publishing the play – so there will be another life for it in that form. To be honest, I am really surprised and excited that it seems to be going as far as Edinburgh, and I want to relish and enjoy the experience and see what happens.
My ambition is to connect with the audience and if opportunities for the future of the play come from that then I hope I notice them when they come along. The journey even so far has been so unexpected so I just want to be open to whatever might happen.
What is the best production you have seen this year – can be any genre, style, in any theatre or performance space?
Definitely All Our Children by Stephen Unwin. No question. It is a brilliantly crafted play – like a lost Arthur Miller or something. It ought to be on in the West End and everyone should see it – anyone I have met who has seen it has been astonished by it. There are not many plays brave enough to take on the epic subject of the value of human life and it demands every sinew of you as an audience member and as a person.
Is there anything else you want to highlight about your show/ theatre company/ production?
The show is really a storytelling piece – a dark modern fable, it will be a listening exercise on the part of the audience and is not for the faint-hearted!