Anna works on the front line of austerity cuts, in a department of work and pensions call centre, she spends her shifts answering the phone to people who have had their benefits slashed. She has just 6 minutes to deal with them and must fit their problems into yes or no boxes. But people are really angry, people are really scared and between calls we see Anna's own life unravelling.
Hi Maddie & Georgina, thanks for chatting with TNC, how is your Edfringe going?
Really well thank you! We are a few shows in now so we’re getting into the flow of it and starting to really enjoy the performances. We’re also finding time now to catch other shows and take in the beautiful city.
Now that you've had a few shows in the can what has the experience been like so far?
It’s been really great to hear the audiences feedback. We play a lot with form in the show and so we were interested to see how this came across. We’ve had some great reactions and it’s been wonderful that people have felt emotionally connected to the piece.
What has the reaction been like from your audiences so far?
So far, so good! People especially seem to like how the characters ringing the call-centre are played by different instruments. People have also connected to the piece in ways we didn’t necessarily expect. It’s been interesting hearing how people working in different jobs have related to Anna’s struggle.
What made you want to bring Life Between Yes and Now to the incredible PBH Free Fringe?
It’s our first show as a company and the Free Fringe really does offer a space for trying things out. We don’t have the funds for a big venue -we are lucky to have a van to stay in (so no accommodation costs!). The Free Fringe is really the only way we could afford to be here! We wanted an audience for the show and we want feedback. We want to grow! That’s why we’re here.
With this being Kahlo Theatre's debut fringe production did you have any apprehensions ahead of the fringe or have you been able to take it all in your stride?
The day before we opened we were definitely nervous! The scale of the festival really hits you. But once we got the first show done and realised the play really does work, we started being able to enjoy it much more.
What's your Royal Mile 'sales patter' like, have you found it easy to connect your show with potential audiences?
The ”Free” part is really important when it comes to getting people’s attention. Tickets at the fringe are expensive so it’s nice being able to offer an alternative to that. If they do seem interested we pitch them our storyline and genre. People often resonate with the mess austerity has left us in.
Can you tell me about Life Between Yes and No, where did the concept for this show come from?
The play is about Anna. Anna works on the front line of austerity cuts, in a department of work and pensions call centre. She spends her shifts answering the phone to people who have had their benefits slashed. She has just 6 minutes to deal with them and must fit their problems into ‘yes’ or ‘no’ boxes. But people are really angry, people are really scared and between calls we see Anna's own life unravelling.
The original idea came from a newspaper article we read written by a DWP call-handler which really moved us and inspired our research.
During your research for Life Between Yes and No did you discover anything new/surprising about the experience people have been put through with the austerity cuts?
Sadly I wouldn’t say it was surprising but certainly, the levels of bureaucracy involved were pretty shocking. Also the inhumane script they were reading from, featuring phrases such as “special rules” meaning you have less than 6 months to live.
"...we’ve found ourselves more drawn to theatre that explores social and political issues..."
With such a powerful show how does the company unwind after a performance?
We’ve actually just got back from Portobello Beach! We parked up there last night and spent a lovely evening by the sea. We’ve also climbed Arthur’s Seat a few times!
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
I’ve always found seeing a story come to life right in front of you pretty magical. More recently, we’ve found ourselves more drawn to theatre that explores social and political issues, and invites the audience into a wider conversation.
How did Kahlo Theatre come about?
We trained together at the Manchester School of Theatre and left with a desire to make our own theatre. What we learnt at drama school was a fantastic grounding for us, but a lot of the texts and practitioners we studied were very conventional. We wanted to experiment, to see how we could play with form, and reach beyond the audience of conventional theatre-goers.
Will you continue to focus your creative work on social theatres in the future?
Definitely. We feel passionate about theatre as a tool for social change.
What 3 words best describe Life Between Yes and No?
Unconventional, Moving, Honest.
And what do you want your audiences to take away with them from your show?
We hope everyone takes something different from the show, but we certainly want them to leave asking questions. We’d love them to continue the conversation outside of the space.