Edinburgh Fringe 2022
An Evening Without Kate Bush
Venue 3: Assembly George Square Gardens - Piccolo
Aug 3-14, 16-21, 23-29, 17:55 / Tickets
July 26, 2022
Howl with the hounds and dance on the moors! Kate's not there, but you are. Following its sold-out 2019 Fringe premiere, touring and a Soho Theatre season, this smash-hit, award-winning show returns! Sarah-Louise Young and Russell Lucas pay glorious homage to the music, fans and mythology of one of the most influential voices in music.
Sarah-Louise will also be bringing THE SILENT TREATMENT to SUMMERHALL, 1.50PM, 3RD- 28TH AUG (NOT 15TH OR 22ND) more information here.
Hi Sarah-Louise thank for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
Thank you for inviting me. As I write I am travelling back from previewing my new show about voice loss, ‘The Silent Treatment’ in Newcastle. It will be running at the Edinburgh Fringe alongside ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ and ‘Looking For Me Friend: The Music Of Victoria Wood’ which I’ve also directed, so my head is in a beautiful spin right now!
How does it feel to be heading back to Edinburgh Fringe this summer?
I’m very excited. I first came to the Fringe 22 years ago as a student and this will be my 17th year with my 40th production. It’s changed quite a lot and it will be interesting to see how the pandemic has impacted it. I especially enjoy performing for local Edinburgh audiences and have made a lot of friends there over the years. Plus I get to see my performer friends for a month and feast on watching as much dance, theatre, puppetry and comedy as I can.
You had an amazing run in 2019 with the premiere of An Evening Without Kate Bush at the Fringe, what did it mean to you to get this type of reaction to your show?
The reaction was overwhelming. Creating a show about an icon like Kate Bush comes with a lot of responsibility to the fans. It was made from a place of love and respect and also playfulness and mischief - characteristics the real Kate embodies through her art too. But you never know until you put it in front of an audience whether it works or not. There is a lot of improvisation and audience interaction in my work so every time I go out it’s leap into the unknown. My brilliant co-collaborator Russell Lucas and I both love that kind of jeopardy!
Since then, impart thanks to Stranger Things, Kate Bush has scored another Number 1 in the charts. Has this “new found” appreciation of Kate Bush and her music been a blessing or a curse for you in the build up to your Fringe run?
A blessing 100%! Kate Bush’s long-standing fans are loyal and passionate and we’ve had a terrific response from them. It’s amazing to see so many new people coming to her music thanks to Stranger Things. One of the most rewarding responses to the show has also been from non-fans, who leave the experience realising they were just fans-in-waiting and now want to learn more about her music. We welcome all levels of fandom here! Funnily enough ‘Running Up That Hill’ (The song which features in Stranger Things - #NoSpoilers) was already an integral part of ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ so it will be interesting to see whether it gets a different kind of reaction now, post the Netflix phenomena.
What makes the Fringe so special?
For me it’s about diversity: the fact that you can see a professional dance show from Japan nestled in next to a student Shakespeare from the US, then hop along to some storytelling from the Highlands followed by stand-up from Hull, is all part of the fun. I’m standing for the Board Of Directors this year to try to safeguard that diversity. The Fringe has become increasingly expensive, with accommodation being a very controversial issue this year (it’s always been expensive for punters alas). The PBH Free Fringe and the Laughing Horse Free Fringe have helped greatly in making it more affordable but we are still running the risk of the festival becoming only open to artists with financial backing and privilege and that would be to the detriment of its future life. It has to evolve and I hope I can help by being part of that conversation. The size of the Fringe can also be overwhelming. It’s often hard to decide what to see when given so much choice. That’s when recommendations and word-of-mouth really help. You can have the biggest advertising budget in the world but if people aren’t talking about your show, others won’t hear about it. Audiences chat to each other in the queues, taxi drivers share top tips they’ve picked up. New people arrive every day and it’s never too late to get the word out.
I’m not saying it’s easy to publicise a show on a shoestring, but good news travels fast in Edinburgh and even if you have a slow week one, if audience reviews are positive you can finish the Fringe on a high. It’s always a risk, it’s always a gamble, it’s always an adventure! Maybe I’m a masochist, but I love it.
Can you tell me how An Evening Without Kate Bush came about, have you always had love for Kate Bush’s music?
Russell and I both grew up listening to and loving her music (‘Hounds Of Love’ is my album). We had already begun to explore the idea fans and fandom in our first show we made together about Julie Andrews, ‘Julie Madly Deeply’. The Kate show is very different, but it’s inspired by that relationship between the artist and the people who love their work. We spent some time in the rehearsal room playing around with ideas and then suddenly she announced her comeback dates at the Hammersmith Apollo. We put the production on ice as we thought people might think we were merely cashing in on her return. But the idea was too good to put down so a few years later we began working on it again and the result is ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’. After bringing the show to the Fringe in 2019 we were all set to tour but then Covid hit. We used the time to extend it into a two act version which we’ve been enjoying sharing around the UK over the past 11 months. A lot of people have come to see it multiple times and bring friends, including a few members from other tribute acts, which is very rewarding. We’ve added in in a surprise new element to the one act version for this year’s festival.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced bringing An Evening Without Kate Bush back to the Fringe?
This year is more of an unknown than usual. Last year there was a partial Fringe so we don’t quite know how this year will look in terms of audience numbers and confidence.
Juggling multiple shows is always a challenge! Thankfully my accommodation was in place from two years ago but I have been running around trying to help other people find beds for the night!
When a show is running do you give yourself much flexibility with it or do you prefer to stick to what you have planned?
The foundations of the show remain the same - the storytelling and the premise - but there is always room for spontaneity and improvisation. My background is in theatre, cabaret and improv (I was a member of the Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical’ for over a decade) and I love how our show can flex and react to each different audiences. I think people enjoy knowing that the night is especially for them. It also keeps me on my toes! I ask the audience for their stories and experiences at the start and then weave them into the narrative. You don’t have to participate of course, you are just as welcome to sit back, listen and enjoy.
Have you always had a passion for music?
Absolutely. My family can attest to that! I was constantly singing along to the radio and making up what was kindly known as ‘The Everlasting Song!’ With four older brothers and my mum in the house there was a terrific and varied range of music playing from morning to night.
It was my oldest brother Matt who got me into Kate Bush, but you could wander from room to room and hear everything from The Cure to Tina Turner, New Order to Handel’s 'Messiah'. I had a brilliantly encouraging music teacher at school too, Miss Porrer, whom I owe a lot to for encouraging me to pursue singing.
If you could pick one Kate Bush song that could sum up who Sarah-Louise is what would it be?
What a brilliant question! Although I love the energy and spirit of ‘Kite’, I think ‘Under The Ivy’ would be my first choice (which also happens to be the title of the brilliant biography written about her by Graeme Thompson). It’s actually the B-side to ‘Running Up That Hill’ and she only ever performed it once on TV, in 1986. In an interview she described it as ‘very much a song about someone who is sneaking away from a party to meet someone elusively, secretly, and to possibly make love with them, or just to communicate, but it's secret, and it's something they used to do and that they won't be able to do again’. Although it is melancholic and nostalgic, it is also sensual and intimate. I relate to that desire to be still and quiet with just one person which is as important to me as being with hundreds of people on stage celebrating music in a party atmosphere. I appreciate both in my life and value them equally.
"Also check out ‘HomeGround’, The Kate Bush Magazine which has been running for 40 years."
Any album suggestions or tips for anyone wanting to get into Kate Bush’s music?
So many to choose from! Her first two albums are essential listening (‘The Kick Inside’ and ‘Lionheart’) and of course I have to say ‘Hounds Of Love’. You really are spoilt for choice, but definitely check out ‘Aerial’ for a more mature sound. She took a 12 year gap between ‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘Aerial’ during which time she became a mother. There are some beautiful incorporations of nature and her new life in there. But really you can’t go wrong with any of them! Also check out ‘HomeGround’, The Kate Bush Magazine which has been running for 40 years. They just had a very special anniversary issue published which you can read for free online. Visit katebushnews.com. Don’t be intimidated by the intensity of the Fish People (the affectionate name for her fans, coined after her record label). We are a welcoming bunch and we love new members!
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from An Evening Without Kate Bush?
Joy, laughter, tears, community… and a desire to dash home and disappear down a You Tube wormhole!