Edinburgh Fringe 2022
The Great Almighty Gill
The Great Almighty Gill. Written and performed by Daniel Hoffmann-Gill. My Dad, Dave, died on 5 November 2015 of complications related to dementia. It was f*cking awful. But the eulogy I gave was brilliant. It deserves a bigger crowd. My way to see if from the molten wreckage of dementia some humanity, art and wonder can be salvaged. I f*cking hope so. Join Daniel as family and friends, to experience the legendary life and times of Dave through a tour-de-force autobiographical performance, part tribute, part stand-up with occasional lip-syncing.
Hi Daniel, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
Thanks for asking for a start off. Most kind. You know what, sometimes I’m staring into the abyss and other times I feel like I’m on top on the world. Ebb and flow. Ups and downs. Right now, pretty decent.
How does it feel to be having your World Premiere at Edinburgh Fringe after everything that has happened?
Bit weird. In many ways it is as if nothing has happened but obviously, so much has, so much loss and damage. I’m glad to be here and to share my work but must remind myself to not take it for granted.
Will there be any nerves ahead of your first show at Assembly George Square?
Oh God yes. I always get terrible nerves before a show but as soon as I set foot on stage it dissipates. Like magic.
In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?
Well I’ve booked around 25 in for my time in Edinburgh, it’s easy enough but not starting seeing stuff until Friday the 5th, so I have some down time at the beginning. Cannot wait to get out there and see some good work. And terrible. Maybe.
Can you tell me a little bit about A Great Almighty Gill, what was the inspiration behind this show?
My dad, David Gill, died of dementia November 2015 and that is the inspiration and the content for the show. But funny. Because dad was funny. The show is part- tribute, part-stand up and throw some lip-sync in as well to top it all off.
Did you have any apprehensions about creating an autobiographical theatre show that drew so much from your own life/experiences?
No, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it and when I first had a go at telling my dad’s story in 2018, I just couldn’t do it. It broke me. So I left it alone for a bit. Did some grieving. I much prefer sharing real life, rather than complete fabrications. There is great comfort there.
Has it been cathartic in some way for you?
Certainly. Especially at first, Dad was the ashes and I was the dust. Now the show isn’t just for dad, it’s for me, for other people who should be here but aren’t and for those that come see it, it’s for their lost ones too. There is huge joy in that release.
"Rather than with Angharad, she elevates it, explodes the parameters, hones it and makes something of it I could never imagine."
What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after writing A Great Almighty Gill?
Good question. That I’m better at processing my grief, my love, not just for my dad but for all those I care about. I’m better at telling my friends I love them. As for the theatre I want to make, that’s not changed. Keep it close to home, keep it to what I know best, keep it real.
With a fringe show will you allow yourself some flexibility once the run has started?
I subscribe to the different every night motif, or in my case, different every afternoon. No show will be the same. The audience play a huge part, they always bring different elements.
How vital is the creative collaboration between a writer/performer and their director and what has the process been like for you working with Angharad Jones on this production?
Essential. Without that it’s just me, doing what I always do, that’s a limited scope. Rather than with Angharad, she elevates it, explodes the parameters, hones it and makes something of it I could never imagine. That’s the joy of a genuinely collaborative process with excellent people and Angharad is an excellent person.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Yes, since junior school where I fell in love with the power of live performance and what you can do when you tell a good story well.
What one word best describes your show?
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given and do you have any advice to offer an emerging playwright?
Best bit of acting advice was from my drama teacher at comprehensive school: “Act through your back”. I’ve never really considered myself a writer, so never sought advice for that and feel a bit phoney giving emerging playwrights advice but I will say and this echoes an earlier answer, write about what you know; tell those essential stories that burn inside you.
Do you have a favourite theatre quote?
Technically it’s not about theatre but it conveys my beliefs well: “A line is a fuse that’s lit. The line smoulders, the rhyme explodes and by a stanza a city is blown to bits.” Vladimir Mayakovsky
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from A Great Almighty Gill?
Love. My love for dad. His love for me. The love that burns in them for those that live and those that don’t.