Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

Tue Biering
Writer/Director
Rocky!
VENUE 82 - ZOO Southside - Main House
Aug 5-9, 11-15, 17-20 / 17:55  Tickets
July 11, 2022

ROCKY! is a journey into a society and its many different Rockies. Rocky is not just one person, but a multitude of people, a cleaved right-wing that cannot be contained in a simple analysis. At the same time Rocky is a concept personifying the worst fears of the left-wing.

Hi Tue, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe and ZOO Southside this year?

 

We’re looking very much forward to it. We’ve been wanting to visit ever since 2020, but the pandemic has made it impossible to go until now. So definitely a lot of pent-up excitement.

 

You’ve had some really amazing reviews Rocky! what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your work?

 

I’d probably be doing what I do, no matter the reception, but having your work recognised is very reaffirming, not least because it means that audiences are seeing something that has an impact on them. I make theatre to create a space for profound meetings between people, and the fact that reviewers find your work interesting means that these profound meetings are actually taking place.

 

What are the challenges you face when creating such a unique piece of new theatre? Does it ever cross your mind whether audience “will get” what you’re trying to say and do with this new piece?

 

It’s always a challenge to work with people who do not usually enter the theatrical space, but at the same time I think it’s incredibly rewarding. Both in terms of the many ethical questions involved in asking specific groups to enter the stage, you need to consider how this will affect their lives to take part, but it’s our firm belief at Fix&Foxy that these people who normally don’t enter the artistic space be allowed a voice in that space, and who better to raise that voice than the people themselves. It also encourages me, as a director, to really think outside the box, and I think that’s healthy, it means I don’t end up making the same performance over and over.

 

But also in regard to the audience and what their response will be: I always think about how the audience will react to a new piece, because they’re the reason we’re doing it, if they don’t want to see it, there’s no point, so we usually invite test-audiences to experience each new piece before opening night, to see how they react. We sometimes do small interviews with our test-audience to get their feedback too.

 

Why is Edinburgh Fringe such an important place to showcase new theatre?

 

It’s the biggest theatre festival there is, with such a big and diverse audience, all of whom are ready for some experiences beyond the usual, so that of course has a great appeal to a company like ours.

 

Can you tell me how Rocky! came about, what was it about this iconic 70s film and character that inspired you to write this play?

 

Well ROCKY! Return of the Loser really isn’t so much about the movie or the movie character at all, it was just a point of origin. I love that movie myself, and it made me think about this echo-chamber that theatre can sometimes be, where left-wing artists agree that we have all the right opinions, and we love to tell the story of this underdog character who rises above his own standing to triumph. But really, when you think about it, the real life Rocky, we don’t like his opinions that much, we don’t want him in the theatre. So I decided to make a show where all the things we don’t like to think about was said aloud and where we’d be confronted with the people we’d rather not deal with - the people on the political right wing.

 

The backdrop of course was the 2016 American presidential election, which was happening simultaneously with us laying the groundworks for the play, we’d just had a Danish election, where The Danish Peoples Party was suddenly the second biggest party in the country and I think everyone on the left was just in shock, and I felt this urgent need to examine this shell-shocked fear I was sensing in myself and all around me.

FIX&FOXY 3 Rocky! Actor Morten Burian Photo Henrik Ohsten.jpg

Photographer: Henrik Ohsten

"For this play I’ve worked with an incredibly talented performer, so it feels very safe to give him quite free reigns with it, but of course within the framework we’ve built together."

When working on a piece like this what are some of the challenges you face?

 

Well, there are many both practical and moral considerations with a piece like this. Casting the right political guest, getting all the elements of the set-design in order and making sure, that everything is being put to good use afterwards.

 

And what would you say have been the most valuable lessons is going to be for the cast who will get to come to Edinburgh this summer with this show?

 

That’s difficult to say in advance. But so far, we’re very much in awe of just how versatile and big a programme the festival has, and that it is possible to gather so many artists in such a short time and have everyone perform their pieces is impressive. It’s a logistical nightmare that requires some dedicated work to make it happen.

 

Do you allow your performers much flexibility once a show is running or do you like to keep to what you’ve planned?

 

I believe in freedom within a certain framework. If you’re precise with the premise for the play, then freedom is not a problem, within that framework. For this play I’ve worked with an incredibly talented performer, so it feels very safe to give him quite free reigns with it, but of course within the framework we’ve built together.

 

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

 

I’ve always felt the theatre is a unique form of art in that it constitutes a meeting that you don’t see in any other art form. That has always fascinated me. The fact that you connect to other human beings about a joint experience. I haven’t met any other form of art, that does that.

 

How did Fix & Foxy come about and what are the themes and stories you hope to explore with future productions?

 

Fix&Foxy has been around for nearly 15 years, so we’ve sort of already developed an aesthetic. It’s all about creating playful and complex, new narratives, that engages with the audience and the world around us. We like to stay curious of our society and the people in it, and we like to invite people in, who are rarely presented or represented in the theatre. We’ve worked with children, homeless people, refugees, prostitutes, war veterans. And when you have that approach to theatre, you never run out of material, because the human condition and the way we organise as a society will always provide you with new angles and new questions. At the moment I’m very interested in Big Data, but I’m not sure, where that will take us.

 

As an award-winning political theatre company how important is it for you to continue to push the boundaries of the stories you want to tell?

 

I’m not sure that pushing boundaries is important in and of itself. But if you want to put your finger where it hurts and figure out why it hurts, then pushing boundaries are often a by-product, and I definitely think it is important that we go to those places that aren’t necessarily nice to go to, but can propel us forward as a society, if we dare look ourselves and others dead in the eye.

 

Do you have any tips or advice you could offer any emerging theatre makers wanting to create the type of theatre that leaves an impact?

 

I’m sure that emerging theatre makers are quite capable of finding their own voice and making it heard.

 

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

 

I’m not sure that I want them to take anything in particular away from it, there’s no morale as such, actually, I raise some of the questions that’s been burning within myself and the artistic team; how the audience want to answer them is really not up to us. I hope that they leave the theatre discussing those issues and trying to find answers for themselves, because really, it’s an attempt to jumpstart the political conversation across the divide of left and right. If we want to go forward, we need to find a way, to start bridging the gap between the two, I think.