Funny, clever and politically challenging, A Womb of One's Own follows a young woman on her journey of self and sexual discovery, exploring the emotional rollercoaster of unwanted pregnancy, abortion and the surrounding taboos.
Hi Claire & Holly thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Holly: Good! Putting the finishing touches on now.
Are you all set for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
H: I hope so, I have never been to the festival so I am very excited.
Claire: I've been a couple of times as an actor but never as part of the production team - I never realised how much organisation it took.
Will there be any nerves ahead of your Fringe run?
H: I’m now jumping into the cast so I’m a bit nervous to be performing again, but also excited. I know I’ll be really nervous before going on stage for the first time.
C: Hopefully we can channel all that adrenaline into a good performance. We trust each other on stage, so that's good.
How does it feel to have A Womb of One’s Own going to the Pleasance this Summer?
H: I feel like I haven’t taken it in yet, and probably won’t until we are up there with all those other great companies and we feel part of the Pleasance family. Seeing our picture in the Fringe guide and on the Pleasance Futures poster was really cool.
C: It's a bit of a dream come true. The Pleasance is such an amazing place and some of my favourite companies are on in the same venue.
Can you tell me a little bit about A Womb of One’s Own, what can we expect?
C: It's the story of an eighteen-year-old, raised by Catholic grandparents, who needs an abortion in her first term of uni - just as she's started a lesbian relationship.
H: Multi-rolling, laughs, dirty humour, dancing, awkward dates and more. A coming of age story, a love story.
Did you have any apprehensions about sharing such a personal story?
C: It's daunting, but I've always been an oversharer! I found it quite cathartic.
H: Claire’s greatest talent is writing from the world around her, her family, friends and things that have happened and opening it up in such a hilarious and frank way. Claire wanted to write about her experience and how hard it was but also how normal it is and often laughter comes out of your lowest moments. Claire finds fertile ground in things we don’t really talk about openly.
"Making art is like breathing out, you also have to breathe in by doing things you find relaxing and stimulating."
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this production to life?
H: Honestly time and money. A small budget in many ways helped us be more creative but is the biggest challenge for any small theatre company.
What was it about Claire’s play that interested you as a director?
H: The first reading we had of the original 15 scripts had me in bits. I really wanted to expand it mainly because I wanted to read it. It’s the first play I’ve ever directed, and I’ve always had an interest in comedy specifically so wanted to a have a go at directing it. I also thought the four actors playing one part left a lot of scope for a simple and interesting staging and aesthetic that I wanted to play with.
With such a personal, social and political story how important is the collaborative nature for theatre-makers when working on a project like this?
H: It’s definitely important to get different voices in the room, because when you’re in a rehearsal room things can become a slight vacuum to the outside world, and with a sensitive topic I think getting other people’s opinions is crucial- is a joke too much, does this movement say what I think it says, are we saying what we want to say…
C: I really appreciated the group consensus on whether or not I'd crossed a line. There were a couple of jokes where the others were like, 'You, really can't get away with that'. We all come up with ideas we think are genius and then fall flat- it's great having space where we aren't afraid to try things out.
A Womb of One’s Own is supported by The Charlie Hartill Special Reserve - how important are funds like this in allowing you to create the type of theatre you want to make?
H: Yes! We wouldn’t be able to go to Edinburgh without it supporting us, meaning we can put more time into making the show great instead of writing around asking for money.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
H: I’ve always loved it and when I was younger I did a lot of performing. At uni, I got into directing a lot more.
C: It's kind of magical - you can make something out of nothing in a way you can't with a lot of other art forms.
How much has your approach to theatre changed since you started?
H: I’ve become a lot more disciplined.
C: We've all gained a whole bunch of skills in DIY theatre. The practical, administrative side as well as the creative side.
Once a play is running do you find it hard to not keep tweaking it?
H: I want to stop but I feel with every new performance I do notice something I want to tweak.
C: I keep tweaking the script. The other day I changed this joke because I was like 'pornography is a funnier word, say pornography!' and the girls have to relearn their lines.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
H: Don’t stress too much, it’s just making plays.
C: Making art is like breathing out, you also have to breathe in by doing things you find relaxing and stimulating.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow director?
H: Get people into your rehearsal room, plan rehearsals ahead, read a lot and see as much as you can.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
H: A good conversation for the bar, a joke they can think about for a while and have learned something new.
C: A feeling that they're not alone. And the fact that feminists are hilarious.