Brighton Fringe 2023
Wildcat's Last Waltz
18th / 19th / 20th / 21st, MAY 2023
Rotunda Bubble, Regency Square, Brighton / 9pm
May 5, 2023
This Northern matriarch's filthy, naughty and wickedly funny story pierces to the heart of love, life, grief and the will to carry on.
Hi Joshua this is the very FIRST Fringe interview of the season and I am so excited to get to talk with you, but first things first, how have you been keeping, cool and calm I hope?
Hi there! We are both very well thank you; we’ve have just come back from working in Romania and Bulgaria working with Kelly’s company Flute Theatre performing her new adaptation of The Tempest at the National Theatre in Craiova and for Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria.
You both have gained great notices for Pericles with The Guardian calling it "Ground-breaking Shakespeare", did you imagine you would get this type of reaction for the production?
It’s amazing that Pericles is being so well received. We loved creating the show and it’s great to perform a Shakespeare play is so rarely performed. It’s been fantastic to tour to it as near as Colchester and as far as Craiova! I’m very excited to be performing "Pericles" at the Brighton Fringe, at the same time as Wildcat - it will be a great challenge. One weak Northern Grandmother, next week Prince of Tyre.
WILDCAT'S LAST WALTZ was part of Bitesize Festival at Riverside Studios, what was that experience like?
It was a great experience to perform at Riverside Studios last year. We have both ,with Wildcat and Flute, found a real home at Riverside post-pandemic. The staff and atmosphere of the building is so warm and they have been a great support of our work. It’s a shame that it will soon not be there any longer. There’s a line in Pericles “The big fish eat up the Little fish” - guess that sums it up.
What does it mean to you both to be able to bring WILDCAT'S LAST WALTZ not only to Brighton but also Edinburgh Fringe 2023?
We have been living with this show since 2019 now, and we have tired so hard to take it Fringe before now but things have always got in the way. But now feels like the right time. We are very excited to share the show with a wider audience, it feel likes it needs to be seen by more people, it’s a story of love, loss and the passing of time - something we can all relate with. I’m very excited to see what people make of it.
How important are fringe festivals in providing independent theatre makers with a platform to explore their creativity?
The ethos of Fringe festivals is, I believe, is very important as it creates a melting pot where anything goes and it also requires performers to be slightly more “on the hoof” because of the luxury of time isn’t there. (No long warms up before the show etc.) and I feel that’s when good performers are really alive. It’s just a shame that they have become so expensive for both performer and punter. But hey! That’s the world we live and it’s our jobs as creatives to pierces through all that and be the alternative.
"Find a dark room somewhere, sell some tickets and put the bloody thing on - the public will tell you if your idea works much more effectively then endless “works in process”."
Can you tell me a little bit about how WILDCAT'S LAST WALTZ came about?
I had always had the idea of character like this blubbing away in my mind. As a kid I was obsessed with Lilly Savage, Dame Edna and (my now friend) Andrew who plays the Dame in my local village hall pantomime. I really could feel that drag was a suit of armour in which a bolder, brasher and wicked persona could exist. I was a camp kid, and up until then “camp” was something that was used to tease me. These performers taught me that I could use my campiness as a defence, something to swipe back with. Even the biggest bully can’t argue with a well-timed and witty put down.
So, I always had a desire to create a character like this for myself, but as I went to university and fell in love with Shakespeare, I began to go down the route of becoming a classical actor and the idea of having a drag character faded away. It wasn’t until after I graduated from Drama Centre, London that the idea for the play formed.
Whilst I was there my grandfather passed away. 10 years before that my own mother, her daughter, died. My grandmother, his wife and my mum’s mother was still alive. In my gap year between Uni and Drama Centre - when I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, me and my grandma spent a lot of time to together. We had long drives in my clapped-out VW polo and shared stories of each other grieves and became an unbreakable bound because it.
I was doing a TIE tour in Manchester, all about not flushing Wet Wipes down the toilet, and the idea of creating a play that told my grandmother’s and by default my own experiences of grief through a Lilly Savage style drag character came to me. I was in a café in Bolton and all just landed in my head and I spent two hours writing it on the back of napkin and it was pretty much finished.
I got a slot at the White Bear Theatre, showed the napkin to Kelly who said she would direct it and here we are!
Was WILDCAT based on anyone you knew?
My Grandma is part of three sisters, and in many ways the character is combination of all three of them, but really, she is a symbol of all the strong, loving and wildly fierce mothers I have met along my way. The character is very much a tribute to them, and in many ways a massive thank you.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced bringing this production to life?
Time and Money. As with everything at the moment.
How essential is the creative collaboration between you both when working on WILDCAT'S LAST WALTZ?
Completely essential. Kelly Hunter is a genius, a true vein of creativity. The show would have been a very different thing without her vision for it. I’m so grateful to her.
Have you always had a passion for theatre and performance?
I’ve always wanted to be in Theatre. I started doing theatre after my mum died - it really was a lifeline.
Has your approach to your writing, acting and directing changed a lot since your debut?
The show is always changing, but the more we do it, the understanding of the feeling and emotions of the show just gets deeper and richer. It’s a real joy to be doing the same thing for a long time.
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer a fellow theatre makers?
Just get up a do it. I loathe the phrases “works in process” or “Sharing”. I think they are a massive waste of time. A group of creatives, performing to other small group of creatives. Find a dark room somewhere, sell some tickets and put the bloody thing on - the public will tell you if your idea works much more effectively then endless “works in process”. The most important thing is doing it.
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from WILDCAT'S LAST WALTZ?
I can’t control what people take away. But as long as the overall experience night has provided them with a good night out that’s worth the ticket price, then I’m happy!