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Edinburgh Fringe 2022 

The Rest of Our Lives by Jo Fong and George Orange. Ageless Festival © Sara Teresa (12).jp
Jo Fong &
George Orange
The Rest of Our Lives
VENUE 26 - Summerhall - Old Lab 
Aug 16-21, 23-28, 10:15 Tickets

Aug 11, 2022

Hopefully hopeful, The Rest of Our Lives is a joyful morning dose of dance, theatre, circus and games. A cabaret of life and near death. Two middle-aged lives in an eclectic, spontaneous, predictable and random decline. Jo is an old dancer, George an old clown. International artists with 100 years of life experience between them, armed with a soundtrack of floor-fillers, a book of raffle tickets and a sprinkling of eco-friendly optimism. Joyful, celebratory and hilarious. The struggle is real. It's the beginning of the end. But we're still here.


Hi Jo & George, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe & Summerhall this summer?


Jo: It’s about time, Edinburgh was a 2020 dream, it feels like this festival will be the re-beginning of theatre since the pandemic. I’m excited to be doing actual performances, in real theatres with real people.


George: Utterly thrilled to be at Summerhall, the best venue at the Fringe. Even though this was supposed to be 2020, I do feel the maturation of the actual rest of our lives makes the show somehow essential.


The Rest of Our Lives is part of the This Is Wales in Edinburgh showcase, what does it mean to you both to be able to be part of such a unique programme that celebrates and champions Welsh creative culture?


Jo: We live in Wales and of course I’m delighted to be part of the group of artists and companies who are presenting in Edinburgh this year. I do think there is something unique to work made in Wales, perhaps a “small nation” quality that has a different way and centres people. I often think that the shows I’ve made here couldn’t have been made anywhere else and Always happy to be reminding people in the rest of the UK that Wales has something special to offer.


What was your first Edinburgh Fringe experience like and do nerves still set in ahead of a fringe run?


George: It was fucking brilliant, I was doing street shows, it was the best time of my life. I was sharing a room with two German women both called Anna, it was a newly arrived dream boy American magic to be listening to German women whilst I try to fall asleep. I made so much money, I slept surrounded by pound coins. Nerves? Jo gets nervous, she crawls around making animal noises before the show, me? I don’t get nervous, showbiz is what I do, it’s the rest of my life that makes me nervous.


Jo: 10 years ago was me with Quarantine practising my un-performing at Summerhall with a show called Entitled.

A famous critic was in the front row, and I totally forgot what I was supposed to say, the room went silent, I looked at the audience and they looked at me, this remains one of my most live experiences on stage, a very real moment , without speaking we all acknowledged how we are all here in this moment, from my perspective it was a great moment the stuff that theatre is made of.

And yes…Sleep has been high on our list for our 2022 preparations.


Can you tell me how The Rest of Our Lives came about, where did the inspiration for your show come from?


George: Jo saw me doing a scratch night where I was standing on the top of a stack of three tiny chairs pretending to be King Kong, it was a terrible idea, Jo agreed yet she still somehow thought that I had potential.


Jo: Yes I saw that, I think I followed a curiosity about how both me and George work with audiences. George has a big history of circus and street performance and I’ve been making contemporary theatre and dance that makes people feel part of it. Something special about an ease with an audience.


George: King Kong was my final attempt at another solo. The Rest of Our Lives admits that neither of us can keep doing this on our own.


Jo: The inspiration was a very real, a felt question about getting to this age and how do we want it to go, how to stay alive, how to have a good life, something more than survival, we explored how we want to live, listened to the music we both liked, played games that made us feel happy and some of it is about support, patience and ploughing on, love is in there and some of its stupid

When creating a show like The Rest of Our Lives how central to your creative process is this idea of building a community?


Jo: I think both of us have been searching out our people over these last years, some of them are ESEA some Queer, some both, also noticing that we need people of our own ages around us. A selfish quest really, I guess Both of us are known for how we bring people together in our work. I think for this one it’s written into the piece about how we need people in our lives, people who see us and understand us. How we can acknowledge the people who are alive in this moment.

We were commissioned by Rural Touring Dance Initiative, Rural Touring is something close to my heart, the idea that we can rock up and temporarily become part of the community. It’s interesting, communities are complex, messy, I feel we are a bit of medicine that just simmers it all down to what’s really important.


What have been the biggest challenges you faced bringing The Rest of Our Lives to the fringe?


Jo: Coming to the Fringe is an enormous attention, it begins months earlier, marketing meetings, tech stuff and interestingly behind the scenes technical staff, we’ve lost a lot of our arts workforce particularly backstage technicians due to Brexit and COVID. I wouldn’t say there’s been crazy challenges, we are blessed with Wales Arts International funds to come to Edinburgh in the first place, it’s more about energy and maintaining the long commitment. Can I mention our team is immense, Megan marketing, Gareth producing, Lisa on design, Aly on lights…I feel we’ve all worked together for such a long while now, it’s going really well. Feeling supported.


What would you say have been the most valuable lessons you have taken from creating this show and what have you discovered about yourself and your friendship during this whole process?


Jo: We were friends before, we’re both gardeners, we used to be neighbours. I really take pleasure from those first moments in the making where we took our time, didn’t push but kept working on how we might work together. What I think is great is that we can be at ease with one another, we like each other, like being in the van, eating, I reckon we do our best for each other both on and off the stage, we prepare well, take into consideration each other’s mental state and then totally pull it out of the bag when we need to.

"Weve taken it in turns to lead, made it more of a game rather than a top down creation process. I feel we are wise enough to keep learning how this goes and happy for it to be an explorative performance."

Have you always had a passion for theatre?


George: Oh Yes. The escapism of it, the pretending. I loved it as a child, it was a hideaway from my reality. Now it is the place I feel the most comfortable, the real world is a bit too unpredictable.


Has your style and the approach to your show changed much since you started out?


George: No.


How important is the collaborative nature of theatre making when working on a two-header like The Rest of Our Lives?


Jo: I think we’ve really practised sharing the space together. We’ve taken it in turns to lead, made it more of a game rather than a top down creation process. I feel we are wise enough to keep learning how this goes and happy for it to be an explorative performance. I reckon we’re still wondering what each other are going to do next. Some of the above makes this a really live experience for us as well as an audience, we have some quite serious rules (I think I made most of them). I should say we’ve had some help in the studio - Marega Palser, Joe Wild - evidently we couldn’t make this show on our own, it’s held together by relationship.


George: Jo did make most of the rules, however I often forget what the rules are. Therefore no words have ever been truer. "I reckon we’re still wondering what each other are going to do next."

This is our collaboration, which is key, to stay alive in every moment because anything can happen.


What more could be done to help encourage and support more diverse audiences within theatre?


Jo: I have seen and have evidence that it is about who is at the top, who is on stage and who is being employed to lead.


Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone making their fringe debut this summer?


George: Be nice to yourself. Really really nice, and be nice to others. Survival is your trophy, treasure that. Any one with a ‘I can do it’ attitude can go to the fringe. It is not special, what is special is YOU.


And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from The Rest of Our Lives?


Jo: Joy. And the feeling they are alive in this moment!

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