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Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

Emily Aboud
Writer/Director
BOGEYMAN
BOGEYMAN is an Edinburgh Associate show in the Pleasance Futures season.
Pleasance Dome (Queen Dome)

Aug 3-14, 16-21, 23-29, 15:55 /  Tickets
June 28, 2022

In 1791, a Vodou Ceremony begins the Haitian Revolution, to end enslavement on the island. In the present, a man is haunted by ghosts in his city. BOGEYMAN is a thrilling, genre-defying tale of hope, rebellion and connection within a broken system from writer and director Emily Aboud. This ghost story playfully combines music, movement and history in an underdog story of resistance against the oppressor; BOGEYMAN aims to empower and uplift and bring to life forgotten histories.

Hi Emily thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?

How has anyone been keeping? It’s been alright. On the one hand, I was grateful for the rest – I feel like I was made more aware of what my body needs. I was drinking less and running more and ironically, keeping in contact with friends a bit better. However, there is a definite sadness that we’ve managed to both ignore the still-present danger of the virus and re-open with the same profit-driven vitriol that we supposedly learned was unsustainable. Having live-theatre back has been wonderful though.

 

How does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe after everything that has happened?

Scary! It feels scary. The Fringe is a challenging month without a debilitating virus snooping around. I already told the company to start taking echinacea, ginger and lemon etc to prevent the flu but this, we’re gonna have to be more careful. I’m very very excited, don’t get me wrong, the fringe is a theatre-dream (if you can afford to go), but I feel it’s riskier financially and medically.

 

Will there be any nerves ahead of your first show at The Pleasance?

By the time we reach the show, I’m not nervous anymore. For me, the nerves are the rehearsals – making sure the actors are feeling safe, trying new things, rewriting scenes. My process is very responsive. I’m always asking the people in the room what they think, and how we can collectively improve it. Holding that space with care and respect makes me nervous – once the show opens, I’m alright.

 

Have you got your The Royal Mile sales patter down for August or are you still tweaking it?

I am, among many things, a Trinidadian Arab, or, CArabian as my father calls himself. I am genetically blessed with sales patter.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about Bogeyman, what can we expect?

BOGEYMAN is about ghosts, money and the Haitian Revolution. It started out specifically as a re-telling of the revolution but when we did an R&D 2021, we started expanding to more modern day scenes about the legacy of the war. The Haitian Revolution was the first successful rebellion of enslaved people. It created the first Black Republic, and completely frightened Europe out of their wits about the oppressed defeating them. The demonisation of Haitian religion (Vodou) is no coincidence. The West is terrified that they might be punished for the crimes they committed for their wealth. So, it’s a show about rebellion and capitalism but also, ultimately about the opposite to capitalism, which is, community. It’s about uniting as a people, sharing together and caring for one another.

When you preview a show how much does it change before a major festival and do you still allow yourself some flexibility once a run has started?

Oh, 100%. An Edinburgh Fringe audience is different from a London audience is different from a Mancunian audience is different from a Trinidadian audience. Hell, audiences within London are different. Compare a Panto in Hackney (the best Panto) to the London Palladium - completely different. Within reason, I think a show should change a little bit for every venue and every remount; but, within reason, you must be fair to the actors. I love actors, they are just amazing at what they do.

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"The entire process of making BOGEYMAN was based on discussion. Communication saves the world!"

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

Yes. I was part of Lilliput Theatre back home, in Trinidad. To my knowledge, it’s the only children’s theatre troupe on the island. I remember seeing a show of theirs when I was 10 and literally, asked my mum to go again the following night. I joined a week later.

 

What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after making this show?

I hope this doesn’t sound cocky but I’ve learnt that if I like the show, then it’s a good show. Frankly, I have seen a lot of bad theatre and a lot of good theatre – and I know the difference between the two more clearly. I guess I’m a lot more confident in my work now, having done it for some time. I think I’m allowing myself to trust my instincts more, without the fear of failure in the same way as when I first started out.

 

What one word best describes your show?

Community.

In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?

By booking in advance! I try to see as much as I can afford so I imagine I’ll be seeing bits between flyering (unless BOGEYMAN sells out, I’ll have so much free time, I’ll see everything).

 

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?

Discuss things. Discuss them all the time. See a show with friends, see what they think and learn from their point of view. Ask someone’s opinion on something you’re unsure about. Do the research and share what you think. I’m definitely a learner from discussion. The entire process of making BOGEYMAN was based on discussion. Communication saves the world!

 

Do you have a favourite theatre quote?

No. But the Trinidadian band, 3Canal, in one of their more famous songs has the line “The power of the word and the conscious styling, rocking the roots of the vampire system” from their song “Talk Yuh Talk” and I love it. That’s what art should be, dismantling the vampire system!

 

And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Bogeyman?

God, that’s a big question. I’d like them to understand the blood that the West is built on. I want them to learn about the ultimate underdog story of rebellion that no curriculum in Europe wants to teach. I want them to feel connected to one another. A big task uh?