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Edinburgh Fringe 2022 

Period Dramas

Have you ever wondered how people in the past dealt with their periods? If Queen Victoria coasted* through her cramps? What if period dramas really were about... periods? Comedy, cabaret and tap collide in this hilarious one-woman show, teaching the history you never learnt at school. Armed with glitter, blood, some history books and an arsenal of embarrassing stories, Heather's on a mission to push through the menstrual taboo and change the way we think about bleeding. Audiences are invited to embrace themselves fully, let loose and have a "bloody" good time! *Obviously she didn't. It was 1837.


Hi Heather, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?


It’s certainly been an odd time that’s for sure, definitely up and down - I actually had a traumatic brain injury back in summer 2020, which knocked me out of action for a while, but I was very lucky and am back to full health now and there are worse years to have missed most of…Things are definitely on the up now though and I’m so excited to finally be able to bring Period Dramas to Edinburgh Fringe!


How does it feel to heading to Edinburgh Fringe after everything that has happened?


So much more exciting, but also weirdly fragile in a way. We were meant to bring Period Dramas in 2020, so it’s been a long time coming, but it feels even more special now!


Will there be any nerves ahead of your first show at Pleasance Courtyard?


Definitely! I tend to get extremely nervous in the half an hour before shows anyway, but I think nerves will be running wild that first show in particular!


Have you got your The Royal Mile sales patter down or are you still tweaking it?


I used to think I was quite good at flyering, after I did a stint in The Improv Musical when I was at uni, but it feels so much more terrifying to be flyering for your own show…I’ve got my first line ready ‘Can I interest you in a comedy show all about the history of menstruation?’ and then I need to work on what comes next…


Can you tell me a little bit about Period Dramas, what was the inspiration behind this show?


Absolutely. I started my period when I was nine and I genuinely thought that Period Dramas were going to be about periods growing up and was genuinely devastated when they weren’t. Flash forward a few years and I went off to study History at university and was disappointed to find very little reference to menstruation in either the history books or my module material. One day at uni I was joking around with some friends and we were like oh wouldn’t it be cool if we made a TV show called period dramas about periods in history and I guess that’s when I started thinking about the show and actually looking into the research! It’s been a long development process, with about three years of research, but the ideas for the show have changed massively in that time and were really influenced by moving to London and getting into the cabaret and drag scene.


"Then try and see how much of that you can make work and sometimes the most memorable/best moments can come out of finding another way to make the same thing happen in an out of the box way."

Period Dramas is really a very fascinating topic and opens up some very interesting thoughts about Queen Vic and other historical women, how did you go about maintaining the fun and humour of this show without it turning into a TedTalk?


This is a great question actually because there’s so many great facts, how do you stop it turning into an essay or a lecture etc. but I think the way we’ve structure it veers away from that as a cabaret/comedy show with a different cabaret act for each period in history. For example we have a burlesque act for the Victorian period playing on ideas of Victorian morality and each act is chaotically fun in its own way. I suppose when I’m myself as the MC character in between each acts thats the closest we come to being like a Ted Talk, but it’s really more like stand-up. My director’s also been a great dramaturg and holds me back from putting in every single cool fact I want to which I’ve definitely needed!


What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after writing Period Dramas?


I think I love theatre that is messy, that embraces all the different bits of us and doesn’t try to be perfect, which has been quite interesting to discover, especially as in my everyday life I am a massive control freak!


With a fringe show do you allow yourself some flexibility once a run has started?


Yes and no - I think it’ll naturally evolve a bit and there’s quite a lot of audience interaction / improvised moments in this piece, so it will vary audience to audience anyway!


Have you always had a passion for theatre?


I’ve always loved going to theatre and remember feeling so alive going to see a musical in London for the first time with my family, but I was really shy (like go bright red when you talk to me and never put my hand up shy) so it definitely took me a while to find my feet and actually be brave enough to go for it!


What one word best describes your show?


Ahh one word is so tricky! I’m going to go with ‘celebratory’.


In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?


Absolutely - I think that’s what the Fringe is all about! I’ll probably struggle to see much before mine, but hoping to get a solid chunk of shows in in the afternoon and evening!


What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?


Elf Lyons gave me the best advice when we had a Zoom session back in lockdown - she said imagine you have all the budget and resources in the world, write down what that show would look like and go wild. Then try and see how much of that you can make work and sometimes the most memorable/best moments can come out of finding another way to make the same thing happen in an out of the box way.


Do you have a favourite theatre quote?


‘An actor must never be afraid to make a fool of himself’


And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Period Dramas?


I hope audiences leave Period Dramas feeling empowered and ready to open up the conversation to break open the menstrual taboo.

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