Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

Stacey Haber
A Scandal From Bohemia
VENUE 50 - C ARTS  | C cubed - Main Space
Aug 3-14,  16:35 /  Tickets
July 9, 2022
A Scandal From Bohemia City 6.png

Thirty years after A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes must once again confront The Woman. The only opponent to have ever bested Holmes, Irene Adler Norton, is once again his prime suspect. The Crown Jewels of the House of Bohemia have been stolen, in Edinburgh, where Irene now resides. Coincidence? Specifically, the jewels she wears in the photo with Prince Wilhelm von Ormstein, now King Wilhelm. The fate of Bohemia and all of Europe rests on the recovery of the jewels and time is running out…

 

Hi Stacey, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe & C Venues this summer?

 

Head spinney! I normally start getting excited as soon as we start rehearsing but this year it started with my meeting Hartley Kemp of C Venues and knowing we could do a live show before the play was even written.  Hartley was so supportive and cautiously optimistic that it was impossible not to be excited.

 

Will this be your first time bringing a show to the fringe festival?

 

This will be the 4th time. We started in 2019 with a live play (The Man From Verona), then filmed our plays in 2020 (Madman William by Naomi Claire Wallace) and 2021 (Somethings Are Better Left Unsaid by Justin Goldstein) because of Covid. We are the same core cast – Duncan Campbell, Jack Lee, Graham Elwell and me. Our new edition this year is Madeleine Day Devine. We love working together and always get excited to be in the same part of the UK at the same time.

 

What was it about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal In Bohemia that interested you so much?

 

The character of Irene Adler. I started reading Sherlock Holmes before I was 10 years old and loved seeing a woman be smarter than the smartest man. I have loved every Sherlock Holmes story my whole life but when both the TV shows “Elementary” and “Sherlock” portrayed Irene as the villain I got mad. So my sequel, set 30 years later, is setting the record straight and allowing me to continue the non-misogynist canon that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended.

 

How did A Scandal From Bohemia come about and what have been the biggest challenges you faced creating a sequel to this classic story into an hour play?

 

Because this is a sequel I had the freedom to keep it short and edit out the faff. It feels more like a thriller than a mystery to me at times. The hardest part was being as clever as Conan Doyle. I’m not innately that smart but I’ve read all of his stories and understand the genre (I’m a member of the Crime Writers Association). I had to work backwards often, writing each clue reveal before the finding of the clue. There was another element I wanted to explore besides the empowerment of women, the LGBTQ+ issue. I wanted to acknowledge the relationship between men in those early days and the fact that it was largely unspoken for fear of incarceration or death.

 

When working on this production how vital has the collaboration between you and your team been?

 

Extremely vital. By writing the parts for each of the actors I know so well I was able to give them an authentic voice and character. The roles were dictated by us as a troupe and the story had to fit them as people and as actors. I’ve had their feedback all along as well, so we were adapting and editing up until last month. I also conferred with them on the artwork and the staging. We are a family and family communicates. We live together during the Fringe, except for Duncan who is a native Edinburgh boy although he often crashed on our couch in 2019; we often eat together, all of us, family style. And then of course we drink together. Jack and Maddie are from Newcastle, Graham is from London and I live in Hampshire having moved here from NYC many times until it stuck in 1999. Each Fringe is a reunion.

Will you allow yourself much flexibility with this show once it’s running?

 

Yes. Theatre is a living, breathing event. In comedy you adjust for the laughs which the audience dictates no matter where you intended them to be. In a mystery their reaction to the clues and the narrative will be imperative. If they can’t follow the logic, then it isn’t logical. If the clues don’t make sense to them after the exposition, then you have a problem. We’ll be sensitive to that.  Sometimes it will be in the directing or the line delivery. Others it will be in the writing. Either way, we’ll be flexible and adapt.

"Most other forms of lawyering pay better than music but I needed to believe in the client’s end goal."

What would you say has been the most valuable lessons you have taken from the journey you have been on A Scandal From Bohemia?

 

Keep the faith is lesson number one. If we had given up at any of the hurdles thrown at us we wouldn’t be about to unveil something that we believe is truly wonderful.

 

Don’t be scared is lesson number two. It was terrifying to try to live up to the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had to tell myself to breathe a million times a day when I was writing the play; we were meant to have a new entirely different play by someone else, but it never arrived and I was a breath away from panic until I finished the script.

 

Lesson number three is always being grateful. I’ve had constant encouragement from the cast. We all encourage and support each other. Duncan is creating the props and sourcing set pieces while Graham and I have been sourcing costumes. Jack and Maddie are working on accents and pushing tickets to all of Newcastle. I am so grateful to each of them for that and for sticking with me all these years. Next year’s play has been written already by Duncan. I’m so grateful for that (and relieved).

 

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

 

Yes. I grew up in the projects in NYC (like a council estate) and Broadway was a huge treat. As was the ballet and the opera. Because culture was earned and not a right for me it meant so much more. When I was a young lawyer I bartered my legal services to an acting teacher. He gets free legal for life and I got 9 years of coaching and dozens of off-off Broadway parts. I have both a business and a creative brain and that kept me sane while working hard as a lawyer. Lee Michael Cohn is still one of my best friends and godfather to my son.

 

How much has your background as a music lawyer helped your approach to theatre?

 

I’d say it’s been vital to my understanding of creatives and to my passion for the work product. Most other forms of lawyering pay better than music but I needed to believe in the client’s end goal. I can believe in the music in a way that I can’t about a lease, a company takeover or the building of another new estate of luxury houses. I believe in the development of new writers and new actors in the same way. I’m driven by creators and their creations.

 

Is there any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer fellow theatre creators?

 

Don’t give up. For every 100 people tell you that you can’t, believe the one voice that tells you that you can, your own. If you don’t, you prove them right. If you do, then doing it (whatever it is), for good or for worse, you prove them wrong. You can be right by just not giving up.

 

And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from A Scandal From Bohemia?

 

Smiles and conversation. I want them to leave the theatre smiling and exhilarated. I want them to talk about the clues, the plot points and the characters for days after. I want them to debate who was the villain and what was the relationship between these two and those two. I want them to take away a shared experience that turns into a memory that crops up for the rest of their lives.