Edinburgh Fringe 2022
A striking and stylised imagining of Oscar Wilde’s gothic masterpiece: the picture of Dorian Gray transforms into a malevolent horror as its inspiration remains untouched and beautiful. This supernatural gift begins a dark descent for Dorian as he recklessly pursues pleasure and vice, leaving destruction in his wake. Thrilling drama, daring movement and music combine to bring this visceral new production to life. KCS Theatre Co have established themselves as an Edinburgh Fringe favourite with their unique brand of fearless theatrical storytelling and sparkling talent.
Hi Brent, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe & C Venues, C aquila this summer?
We are ecstatic to be part of the 75th Fringe, and even more so to be bringing another new original work. C-Venues and KCS Theatre Co. have been partners since 1993, the year of our very first Fringe Show. We are not usually so close to the Royal Mile, so having Dorian at C aquila is going to be extremely exciting. It is a mid-size space, which we love to perform in because it keeps the audience close and feeling like they are part of the production.
KCS Theatre Company is no stranger to the fringe, what is it about the festival that is so special?
Being a student company, the Fringe sparks real creativity, imagination and artistic appreciation in our students, and feeds into their academic and co-curricular drama work. Being part of KCS Theatre Co. also inspires them and prepares them in their future creative pathways.
The Fringe also gives us the opportunity to develop material throughout the year and bring new original works each year. This is one of our hallmarks. The fact that we can conceive, create, and perform a show for an audience is one thing, but to be in the company of so many likeminded creatives and can see and support their magnificent work in return is amazing.
Are you and the team ready for the Royal Mile, have you got your sales patter down?
I think the question should be, is the Royal Mile ready for us? We love to be part of the vibrant flyering scene, and always throw our all into inventing new ways to excite an audience (as well as being inspired by our fellow artists!)
One benefit that we have is that we are a 24-person company and crew and as a team, we take publicity very seriously, as we know it can make or break the success of our show, so when we are out on the street, we ensure people notice us! We might even do a spot performance or two, so just look for the KCS Theatre Co. Yellow.
Can you tell me how Dorian came about, where did the inspiration for your new show come from?
One of the things we look for in choosing our shows is their potential for visual storytelling. We love incorporating movement and music into our shows, and Dorian will be no exception. Over the course of the year, we do a lot of devising work, and a new stylised adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray is something we did earlier this year.
We are fortunate to have such exceptionally gifted actors and are always looking for material that will not only challenge them but will also challenge how we present it to an audience. Dorian Gray is such a flawed character, and the way he is influenced by those around him also really appealed to us. To be able to go deeper into his story and his motivations (especially as he realises that his actions are directly being reflected in his picture) is something we hope will make our version of Dorian stand out and be exciting to Fringe audiences.
"It is always our hope to entertain and engage our audience with our shows, but we also like to surprise and delight them as well."
What was it about Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece that made you think “we should/could reimagine this”?
We love stories that are highly visual and can be expanded from their more traditional origins. The Picture of Dorian Gray is such a universally recognised piece, with audiences knowing at least the basic story, so it is great source material to start with. As is the KCS Theatre Co. way, we intend to go far beyond a traditional retelling. Highly stylised movement, original music and a dynamic new original script allows us to tell our version of Dorian Gray, one where we can really focus on the main character and create contrasting moments of beauty and malevolent horror highlighting the decay of his soul as seen not only through Dorian's eyes, but also by those close to him. We love dark gothic tales!
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced bringing this production to the fringe?
I think like any other performance arts company, we are always our biggest critics and thus are always hard on ourselves and the work we do. For several Fringes now, we have presented original work, so that increases the pressure because an idea must be conceived, developed and the script written before rehearsals can even start. We thrive on the challenge though and cannot wait to share Dorian with you in August.
How much has the approach and style of the theatre KCS create changed over the years?
Like any group, styles and interpretations change as different influences excite and provoke. We have been bringing original work up to the Fringe recently, and that is a substantial change. I think our ability to be less traditional and more daring is also a big part of it. We take more risks, push ourselves further, and bring the unexpected to our performances. It is always our hope to entertain and engage our audience with our shows, but we also like to surprise and delight them as well.
Over the years, we have been rewarded with 5-star reviews for our work and equally kind praise. We have developed a core following, as audiences know the caliber and quality of performance, they will see at a KCS Theatre Co. show with one of our comments always being “such a talented company and professional production.”
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer any theatre company making their fringe debut this summer?
Yes. BE PREPARED! Fringe can be overwhelming, but if you do your homework, take advantage of all the materials that the Fringe and your venue offers, you will do great. It is a lot of work to put on a show at any time, but to create one in the atmosphere of the Fringe is especially challenging and thrilling. Keep trusting your instincts, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from Dorian?
What price would you be willing to pay for eternal youth and beauty?