Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 
Hannah Banister: "Although fundamentally I am still speaking with the same voice. It’s just the voice has got a bit more mature I think."
DO OUR BEST | Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly)  
1st – 25th August (not 12th), 14:50  TICKETS
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Do Our Best follows our anti-heroine as she tries to navigate her numbness in search of her own tribe of women.

Hi Remy &  Hannah thanks for talking to TNC, how’s everything going?

Remy - Hello! Thanks for having us guys. Things are dreamy, thanks for asking. 

Hannah – It’s good, it’s intense. I am loving working on this play and working with Remy. It is a really natural partnership and it is so easy to work with her. And I am enjoying all the natural progressions of a rehearsal process. You discover something and you both fill up with "We are brilliant and amazing" then you revisit it and feel disastrous and inadequate. We have an ending now and are feeling the shape of the evening as a whole. Which is exciting. There is still lots to do and we are finding new things all the time. It has actually been a really collaborative process from research and development. 

How does it feel to be at Edinburgh Fringe?

Remy - I can’t believe we’re here. I’ve wanted to bring a one-woman show to the festival for so long, that I’m just chuffed that we’re here it, and getting it done! Finally.

Hannah - I absolutely LOVE being at Edinburgh with a show. Feels like home to me. I did my first ever play here, produced by Francesca and working with your good selves and that was such an extraordinary time that I always want to come back. 

Are there any nerves ahead of your shows run?

Remy - I mean, always right? Always a pinch of anxiety. Are we going to get it made in time? Is it going to be ready to show to the crowds? All the standard stuff but to be honest, mostly we’re just excited to finally get the show out there and see how people react to it. 

Hannah - Yes loads. It is inevitable. Writing a play, starring in a play, directing a play, are all very exposing. Luckily Remy is taking on two-thirds of that pressure, and luckily for me she is sublime, and I am just actually more than anything really excited to support her and to do justice to her story and elevate some of the ideas with her into fully realised events, or touches, in the play. Because you are in for such a treat. She really is a phenomenal talent. And a little bit funny. Sometimes. Hardly ever. 

Can you tell me a little bit about Do Our Best, what can we expect?

Remy - Sure thing. So, Do Our Best is a one-woman show. It follows Sephie, a 30-year-old narcissist who’s recently found herself back in the sanctuary of the Girl Guides since her life spiralled out of control. 

She’s a funny, awful bastard who is struggling with belonging since the death of her mother. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing rollercoaster of emotions as she tries to get her Entertainers badge for the 3rd time. 

"I was really excited that it started in a room, in an immediate, live place, intimate, hilarious, conversational." 

What was the inspiration behind Do Our Best?

- I lost my own mother about 5 years ago and I guess I’ve been waiting to explore the mother/daughter relationship since then in some form. I’m also a huge fan of the Girl Guides and everything that they stand for. In Do Our Best, without realising it Sephie is looking for a support system, and Brown Owl and the Girl Guides are a constant, steady force for good, whether she knows it or not.

Did you have any apprehensions about drawing from your own personal experiences when you were writing this play?

- No, I don’t think so. Maybe I would have a few years ago but I don’t know, I like personal art, I like having to root around my own self to see what I really think about things. I just felt ready to start exploring these issues that have been so central to my own life. 

What have been the biggest challenges bringing a new production to life?

- Well, for me, it was getting it written and FINISHED. It’s so easy to start projects and get side-tracked my other things and I promised myself that I was going to begin, middle and end this one. 

As writer/performer is it hard to not get yourself so attached to your work?

- You have to be attached. It’s full-out hard work to get a show on and made, and I think you’ve gotta give it your all and be 100% invested in it. 

What was it about Remy’s play that interested you so much as a director?

- I was really excited that it started in a room, in an immediate, live place, intimate, hilarious, conversational. Then the plot dives through that convention and takes you to the forest roaring. I could feel the possibilities and personality. And I really liked the potential of being able to pull in both directions, with this exciting style of storytelling. I loved how unlikeable the main character was in her own life, but that I really like her. I liked the violence of it. I related to it. It is a very layered plot. Lots of room to grow, lots of potential. Right up my street. 

As a Fringe First award-winning director what has winning this award meant to you? 

- It was such a momentous moment in my life. My mum had just died, it was my first ever show and with no experience and no mum came no need, no fear and no expectations. I had no idea what Edinburgh was about, I was just focussed on our show. I remember after winning that, people sent me plays much more and I was reading a lot of new writing and I loved that. It led to directing a bigger comedy show the year after and I learned a lot. I got to know a lot more about the art of dramaturgy and it really set me on a course of being a new writing director. It really is a huge passion. Caught up in the heart of me. 

"Then Dad suggested I go for the National Youth Theatre, and that was it." 

Describe Do Our Best in 3 words?

Remy - Funny, Chaotic, Raw

Hannah - Funny, roaring, hearty. 

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

Remy - Yes. Since forever. Plays have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I went to a comprehensive school in South Wales where I was lucky to have a drama department and a few drama teachers who were very encouraging. 

Hannah - Yes. Since I was young. My dad ran a youth theatre, which he started at our local theatre. The joining fee was £4 per child per year, and still is I believe (£4 for the annual newsletter). And he would do 3 plays a year, and he directed them. And we would go to watch when we were really young.  I really remember Georges Marvellous Medicine, Fantastic Mr Fox, 1984, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe - that was really magic. There was a moment where the Turkish delight was lit behind a cloth and then suddenly it was in the Hands of Edmund in front, it looked like it had travelled through the cloth.. and I said to Dad, "How did you do that?" And he literally answered.."Magic" And I was really blown away by that. I must have been about 7. I also thought all the youth theatre were so cool. They were all teenagers and they all smoked. I was allowed to join when I was about 14 and I just loved all the clichés of becoming other people at a time of becoming myself, learning about the world and just the magic and the power of theatre in our tiny little local place. Then Dad suggested I go for the National Youth Theatre, and that was it. But I would never have dreamed it could have been possible for me to actually work as a theatre director.

Has your style and approach to creating your shows changed much since you started?

Hannah - Yes I think so. Although fundamentally I am still speaking with the same voice. It’s just the voice has got a bit more mature I think. Slightly angrier, And with that, a bit more playful.  You learn from every show how far you didn't go, or how you could have been braver and I like being brave. I am very intolerant of being bored or boxed in, and I think that manifests itself in my directorial style these days. This year I did a drama school production of Present Laughter which took "Playful" to full-on irreverent. I suddenly realised the play could take it, and I got really excited by that, it honestly was a thrill to rehearse act 3. It was bananas.  I Love that about students too, they are so up for it, they just come with you for the ride wherever you’re headed. 

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Remy - Don’t give all your energy away to other people. Make sure you save some for yourself. 

Hannah - Some things in life don't matter very much, but most things don't matter at all. That and don't shit where you eat. 

Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?

Remy - Start, and don’t stop until you’re done. Especially if you are a woman. Do not stop. Keep going. You’re important as fuck. 

Hannah - Go for it. You phenomenal person. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?

Remy - That the most honourable way to remember someone is to carry on living fully and whole-heartedly with those around you. And that the act of trying is courageous and vital. And also, that they had a really fun time and laughed a shit ton. 

Hannah - I want them to have had an excellent time. It will be an hour which is epic and joyous intimate and funny and sad and I would like people to take away the power of vulnerability, a feeling of hopefulness. It gives a little slice of humanity in a raw form, which is sad and robust. And I hope that there is stuff in it that speaks to every single person who comes to share it with us.

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