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Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

Laura Henderson Child
& Martha Harlan

LUCID
VENUE 186 - ZOO Playground
Aug 14-21, 23-28 / 11:30  Tickets
July 19, 2022

Images by Beatrice Debney.

What. The. Frick? It's 2010 and we're on the Year Six Isle of Wight trip. Last week, Sammy put a note in Toby's locker pretending to be her best friend Lucy. We aren't quite sure why. This is a play about sleep, guilt and the worlds in our heads. And Tom Daley.

 

Hi Laura & Martha, thank you for talking with The New Current, how have you been keeping?

 

Hello! Thank you so much for having us! Laura (writer and co-director) and Martha (dramaturg and co-director) here. We are coming to you live from our flat on London’s 40 degree day, so we are melting a little but spirits are still high.

 

How does it feel to be bringing Lucid to ZOO Playground this summer?

 

We are really happy. The show has been in development for about a year now, and our two-week run at ZOO Playground is a step that feels both natural and slightly surreal. We are really honoured to be programmed alongside some other brilliant work: we are especially looking forward to catching Raina Griefer’s Manic and Jaz Woodcock-Stewart and Morgann Runacre-Temple’s Civilisation.

 

What was the experience like performing Lucid at the National Student Drama Festival?

 

NSDF was our first chance to share Lucid in a theatre with a live audience. To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect but were so delighted both with the feedback we received and to meet so many other brilliant emerging artists. Our cast did such a fantastic job after two years away from live theatre and we left Leicester feeling galvanised for Lucid’s next steps. We couldn’t recommend it enough!

 

Will there be any nerves ahead of your Fringe run?

 

Yes! It’s no secret that taking a show to the Fringe is a massive undertaking, the prospect of which can become quite overwhelming. We are so incredibly proud to have made it here, and know that our nerves prove how much we care about our work.

 

What does Edinburgh Fringe mean to you?

 

We’re reminding ourselves often that the Fringe started as somewhere to try out and develop new and experimental work, in an environment that is as supportive as it is dynamic. We can’t wait to to see and meet lots of other artists, and to be surprised and energised by what we learn.

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poster designed by Molly Beardall

"One of the most revelatory moments was when we decided to introduce foley into the show: sound effects created live by performers on stage, using everyday objects."

Can you tell me a little bit about how Lucid came about, what was the inspiration behind this show?

 

During the pandemic, I (Laura, the writer of Lucid) started working in a primary school. I thought a lot about a British primary school’s idiosyncratic sense of humour, and the way in which children are constantly testing out new vocabularies, worries and personalities to see which one might fit best. Inspired by brilliant TV shows like Pen-15 and plays like Dance Nation, both set in the US, where adult performers play children, I started writing Lucid. The high-stakes setting of a Year 6 residential felt like the perfect environment in which to locate the drama. I also became interested in staging what it’s like to have an imaginary friend, particularly one with whom you rehearse conversations and encounters you might have in the real world. It wasn’t a relationship I’d seen staged before, but one that felt theatrically rich. In Lucid, this imaginary friend is the diver Tom Daley. It’s been so much fun and so freeing to create a show about childhood for an adult audience.

 

What have been some of the biggest challenges you faced with this show and what has been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken away from Lucid?

 

The play moves around a lot, between the forests, caves and discos of PGL and also into the dream world. With a very limited set (four sleeping bags, balloons and lots of scraps of paper), we had to think hard about how to make these places feel clear and alive. It’s made for a really fun rehearsal process. One of the most revelatory moments was when we decided to introduce foley into the show: sound effects created live by performers on stage, using everyday objects. It’s really elevated the show, visually, aurally and thematically, and has taught us that from great limitation comes greater ingenuity.

 

How important is the creative collaboration between the As If team when creating a show like Lucid?

 

Very. As If is a company founded in friendship and that motivates all the decisions we make. We feel so lucky to have such a dedicated cast, who have really shaped Lucid’s writing and direction with such rich offerings. The show would be completely different were it not for them. The nature of our practice means that our theatre-making is non-hierarchical: the writing, direction, performance and all aspects of design are fluid and always informing one another.

Where did your passion for theatre come from and how did As If come about?

 

As If was founded in Spring 2019 by theatre-makers Martha Harlan and Laura Henderson Child (sorry to suddenly move into the third person). Our first go at directing together was a reimagining of the 17th Century comedy The Roaring Girl, told with stage fights and a wire ruff handmade by our housemate. We like making fast-paced theatre that is aesthetically considered from its genesis, establishes multiple locations on stage and recycles carefully chosen props. We are especially interested in engaging with the different versions of the self that one might create and perform in front of audiences. We met making theatre, and it has now become a really central part of our friendship.

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Will you continue to create theatre that celebrates and explores the imagination?

 

Absolutely. We are beginning work on our next project, which will ask audiences to reimagine the way in which they value friendship. We think it will take the form of an immersive wedding.

 

How much has your approach to the theatre you make changed since you started?

 

As self-producing emerging artists, we have a newfound appreciation of all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make theatre happen. Because the reality of the industry is that funding is so difficult to find, and resources are so limited, this process has forced us to reckon with the sheer amount of unpaid work that pursuing a career in theatre requires. We’re lucky that this has confirmed our passion and drive, but we know we’re immensely privileged to be able to make work in this climate.

 

Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone wanting to get into theatre?

 

Be kind and generous to every single person you meet.

 

And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from Lucid?

 

We have really prioritised fun in the making and rehearsal of Lucid. We’ll know we’ve done our job if that is evident to audiences by the end of the show.