A glimpse into To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird. Photo by Johan Persson (previous cast).

Photo by Johan Persson (previous cast).

Following sell-out performances at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the  highly-acclaimed new production of To Kill A Mockingbird starts its tour with us at The Marlowe tomorrow night (Tuesday 16 September).

Press Officer Sarah Munday and Arts Marketing Trainee Lucie Blockley were lucky enough to catch it as it wound up its (second) season at the Open Air Theatre.


Lucie writes…

Sitting in the glaring afternoon sun at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre, I felt a step closer to the hot Deep South summer unfolding onstage before me.

The weather was playing its part in creating a fitting atmosphere for the production, with the assistance of the greenery and soundscape of Regent’s Park as a backdrop.

The audience were transported into Depression-era Alabama through the narration of eight-year-old Scout, with the inventive use of setting and storytelling. The stage itself started as a clean slate, but quickly became a chalk-drawn map of Maycomb, evolving constantly with the story’s twists and turns.

By doing away with excessive trappings of costume and props, I was completely sucked into Scout’s world and the tragic events unfolding. Even whilst competing with the helicopters, thumping music and general racket of central London, the cast held a completely captivated audience in this fantastic adaptation.

Rehearsal photo: Arthur Franks as Jem, Connor Brundish as Dill and Ava Potter as Scout. Photo by Johan Persson.

Rehearsal photo: Arthur Franks as Jem, Connor Brundish as Dill and Ava Potter as Scout. Photo by Johan Persson.

Sarah writes…

I guess like most people, To Kill A Mockingbird was a classic I read at school, many years ago. Along with titles like The Catcher In The Rye, Wuthering Heights, and 1984, these amazing books have stayed with me all this time.

The mists of time may have clouded my mind, but minutes into the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s superb production of Mockingbird, the characters of Harper Lee’s novel came back to life!

With a sparse set, it was left to the excellent cast (with special mention to Daniel Betts as Atticus Finch, and Ava Potter – in her acting debut – as his daughter, Scout), and the words of the book, to tell the tale of racial injustice in America’s Deep South in the 1930s.

The small cast are planted amongst the audience at the start of play; the first we are aware of them is as each stand in turn to read from the pages.

Once on stage, each still clutching their copy of the book, they continue with the narration, interspersed with the words and actions of the characters they occasionally become (with the help of some very clever costume changes).

The books each actor carries play an important role until the very end: but I won’t spoil it here by telling you what happens!

As Lucie says, the production did have to battle against a busy London soundscape, but this provided small distraction (to the audience; most certainly not to the cast), which we won’t experience in the confines of The Marlowe Theatre.

Having said this, it will be interesting to see how Mockingbird transfers from the reasonably intimate setting of the Regent’s Park theatre, to our main auditorium. Either way, I urge you not to miss this mesmerising and deeply moving production.


To Kill A Mockingbird is at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 September. A limited number of discounted Discovery Tickets are available for anyone aged 16-26 years or full-time students (over 16 years).

The Marlowe meets…Sir Roger Moore

By Steve Pratt

Sir Roger Moore.

Sir Roger Moore is embarking on a UK-wide theatre tour, opening here Sunday 14 September, to talk about his life and career from stage to screen, from Pinewood to Hollywood. He talks about having fun, laughing at yourself and acting with your eyebrows then gets serious to talk about his work with UNICEF.


How to address Roger Moore? Certainly not Mr Moore as he’s a knight of the realm. Arise Sir Roger Moore. But he’s equally famous as James Bond from the 007 films, not forgetting Lord Brett Sinclair from The Persuaders and Simon Templar alias The Saint in TV hits. Those with long memories might add two more TV roles, the title character in Ivanhoe and Beau Maverick in the American western series Maverick.

Is there another actor who can claim to be known in quite so many and so varied roles on screens, big and small? Somehow he’s always remained himself – smooth, suave, amusing. It’s a part he plays to perfection and has kept him in work from early days as a young actor in weekly rep and a Hollywood contract player to movie stardom, holding a licence to kill as James Bond between 1973 and 1985.

At 86, he has much to talk about which makes An Evening With Roger Moore such a good idea. He toured the show in 2012 and 2013, and now has 12 new dates this autumn to towns and cities chosen, he jokes, because his wife Kristin wants to visit them.

Sir Roger is a great joker and prankster. Film sets, you gather, are never dull when he’s around. A nice line in self-deprecating humour has stood him in good stead during a career when critics haven’t always been kind about his performances. Taking the line that if you can’t beat them, join them he “invented” the Roger Moore eyebrow acting technique – a joke seized upon by those mischievous Spitting Image folk. The whole joke that his eyebrows are the only part of him that act was his fault. Being self-derogatory, he noted he had just three expressions – left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised and no eyebrows raised. “I remember at the time my agent said you must stop staying these bad things about yourself and I said, ‘but they’re saying them already’.”

Sir Roger Moore as James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Sir Roger Moore as James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me.

When I phone him he’s at his summer home in Monaco, soon to head off for a couple of weeks in London promoting his new book, Last Man Standing: Tales From Tinseltown before hitting the road for his stage tour.

He’ll be interviewed on stage by author Gareth Owen, who worked with Moore on his autobiography My Word Is My Bond and Bond Is Bond. In truth, Sir Roger needs little encouragement to launch into another humorous story about his life and career. For him every picture tells a story, often with a punchline at his expense. Although deliciously gossipy, his stories are never malicious. Writing his autobiography he made it a rule not to be horrible about people. “It’s not my style to put it in print, being nasty about people. It’s very unfair, particularly on people who are dead. Even worse if they are alive.”

He didn’t start writing his autobiography until the eve of his 80th birthday in 2007. Why so late in life? “It took me a long time to learn to spell,” he replies. “It’s a bit like the tour and not having been in some of the towns since 1949 – I say I am back by popular demand,” he says.

Despite his great success on screen, theatre figured in his early career with his current tour not only bringing back memories of those days but also reminding him of the moment he realised it was to be an actor’s life for him. “The reason I like to wander around theatres from time to time is that feeling you have when you can hear the house chatting away, hear the bells go and the lights gradually diminish. You hear the swish of the curtain, take a deep breath – and you’re on,” he recalls with a temporary seriousness.

“It’s that feeling I love. Like that first time I did an audition for RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and thought this is really what I want to do. That’s the most wonderful thing about our profession. If you are working in a profession with the highest unemployment rate, then no actor is acting because he has to do it. It’s because he wants to do it. It’s a very lucky profession to be in. I can’t imagine what it would be like doing manual labour.”

Yet as James Bond, Sir Roger was involved in his fair share of physical action, I suggest. “Oh, you mean the love scenes – they were terrible to do,” he says. “I got a few knocks and bruises when explosions happened before they should,” he says. Thankfully his main acting tool, his eyebrows, weren’t singed.

He knew the time had come to hang up his secret agent’s badge before playing Bond for the last time. “It wasn’t because of the physical stuff as I could still play tennis for two hours a day and do a one-hour workout every morning. Physically I was okay but facially I started looking… well, the leading ladies were young enough to be my grand-daughter and it becomes disgusting.”

Sir Roger Moore in The Saint.

Sir Roger Moore in The Saint.

Bond is just one of his repertoire of roles. Ask why his CV is so varied and this ever-jolly-Roger says, “People have kept giving me different roles to see if I could get any better”.

As you gather from talking to him, fun is the keyword for happiness. “If you are not able to laugh at things and laugh at yourself throughout life, then life is unbearable,” he says.

There is one subject on which he is serious – his work as an ambassador for UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) for the past 24 years. He was recruited by actress Audrey Hepburn who invited him to accompany her on a visit to an international children’s ward. “It was listening to her and her passion and her elegance on the subject of the children that intrigued me, that gave me the thirst for more,” he recalls.

“I am so grateful because it changed my life and I have been able to do things for UNICEF. It sounds a bit po-faced and pompous but it’s doing something good in life apart from prancing around in pictures.”

Beached: an introduction to our first production

By Amy Jane Smith, Marketing Officer

Beached. Photo by Tim Stubbings.

Beached. Photo by Tim Stubbings.

You may have seen the news, or read in our new brochures, that this autumn we will be producing a play for the first time.

So far we have been pretty much a receiving house, so to be able to be part of the creative process is a thrilling prospect: we get to lead decisions on the production, and create marketing materials (the above photo came out of a 4.30am photoshoot at Camber Sands, but that’s a story for another time…).

The darkly comic play Beached, will be at The Marlowe Studio for six performances before moving onto London’s Soho Theatre for a three-week run.

Beached tells the story of 18-year-old Arty, who, at 63 stone, is morbidly obese. A television company films his journey towards surgery, in a sensitively titled documentary – Shocking Fat Stories. The subject matter is unsettlingly familiar, in this era of reality TV.

Providing a platform for the issue, these documentaries often masquerade as being sympathetic to the real-life protagonist while all the time they’re zooming in, closer and closer, past the point of acceptability and into the realms of freak show.

The play is also a love story, as a care-worker-turned-love-interest looks past Arty’s weight and the stigma around it and sees a sensitive and imaginative young man. Ultimately this is a story of hopes, aspirations, and of love. Arty dreams of a better life, one where he’s the romantic hero, but then what 18-year-old boy doesn’t?

We’re also happy to be uncovering an emerging playwright. Australian Melissa Bubnic has never had her work performed on this kind of scale before. She says: “I wrote Beached back in 2010. Ultimately you write a play to see it performed and to see an audience react. I’m so glad, and thankful for the opportunity, that so many people will get to see the play this autumn.”

While a gritty, and potentially sensitive subject, the play itself is also darkly comic. Arty is charming in both his real-life interactions – the humour flitting between dry and fantastical. We are transported from his house, where he is bed-bound, to exotic beaches and action-filled James Bond-esque sequences.

It makes you think, but from reading the play it seems like it will equally be a delightful watch. I can’t wait to see how the creative team will bring the piece to life.

And the creative team themselves are an exciting and crucial part of the project. The play is produced in association with Paul Jellis, Executive Producer of new writing theatre companies nabokov and Bad Physics, and directed by Justin Audibert, a previous associate of the RSC and winner of the prestigious Leverhulme Bursary.

We’re proud to be staging this brilliant work and to be moving into the world of producing. The Marlowe Studio really is going from strength to strength. If this is your first visit to our intimate 150-seat space then it’s a perfect introduction. If not, we look forward to welcoming you back.


Beached plays at The Marlowe Studio from Tuesday 28 October to Saturday 1 November, then transfers to Soho Theatre (Soho Upstairs) from Tuesday 4 to Sunday 23 November.

Beached is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grant for the Arts programme, and philanthropic funding by The Marlowe Theatre Development Trust.

A version of this article was originally published as part of Spotlight Magazine, Issue 10 Autumn 2014.

Staff picks from our autumn season brochure

Shrek_email_main

It’s exciting, but also nerve-wracking, when our new brochures go on sale: what will your reaction be to the forthcoming season of shows on offer?

Judging by the queues of people at Box Office, the non-stop ringing of the phone (our Box Office team really are incredible!), and the number of people booking online, it seems you are pretty happy.

It may well be a busman’s holiday, but staff also love flicking through the brochures and deciding what to buy tickets for. Here’s a selection of what we’ll be seeing.


The Play That Goes Wrong was one of the funniest pieces of theatre I’ve seen and I am really looking forward to their next instalment, Peter Pan Goes Wrong. I’m hoping to laugh just as much – or more if at all possible!”

Joseph Janman, Box Office Supervisor


“I’m really excited for the return of Blind; I want to know how time and the Edinburgh run has changed the show since it premiered here in April. Of course, like everyone, I want to see Beached – which is super-exciting in terms of our level of involvement going up a gear producing a show for the first time. And then I have my eye on shows like Small Plans and Where The White Stops, that I hope will be these quiet little gems.”

Adam Wood, Studio Manager


“I’m most excited about Rebecca in the main house. It’s going to be a really high quality and innovative production and I’m intrigued to see what a brilliant company like Kneehigh do with the text. Also even having already seen The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time three times, I’d see it again in a flash.

I recently watched the amazingly passionate and brilliantly entertaining Bridget Christie in Edinburgh and can’t wait to see the piece that earned her the credit she deserves.”

Katherine Igoe-Ewer, Programming Administrator


“There are so many shows I’m looking forward to, but to choose just a couple, it would be Peter Pan Goes Wrong, having laughed until my sides ached at The Play That Goes Wrong earlier this year; and The Car Man as I love Matthew Bourne’s work and haven’t seen this one before.”

Joanne Pearson, Fundraising Development Support Officer


The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Photo of original West End cast, by Brinkhoff Mögenburg.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Photo of original West End cast, by Brinkhoff Mögenburg.


Seth Lakeman (here as part of Canterbury Festival) – this man is the reason for my obsession with British folk music. He is one of this country’s most talented musicians and his rousing choruses fill your body with tingles! Then in The Marlowe Studio it has to be Shadow Boxing – one of the most moving and intense performances I have ever had the pleasure to see. I cannot recommend this highly enough, whatever your walk of life!”

Simon Garlinge, Box Office Assistant


“I saw Henry IV Part I with Antony Sher back in April and would really recommend it. It’s a great play, so underrated and really exciting to have the Royal Shakespeare Company here.

The Paper Birds’ Blind brought me to tears when it premiered here, and I’ll definitely go again when it’s back in October. I can’t wait to find out Where The White Stops…and I’m a little terrified of delving into the Horror Box.”

Andrew Dawson, Creative Projects Officer


“In the main auditorium I’m excited for Cirkopolis by Cirque Eloize. Having loved their show the previous time they were here I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have in store this time around. Then for the Studio it has to be Beached. I’ve been here since the theatre opened, and finally seeing the theatre produce a West End transferring show in the Studio is a great privilege.”

Rhys Hughes, Box Office Supervisor


“I’m excited for all the theatre in the Studio, but also to see Bridget Christie and Sara Pascoe. They’re both brilliantly funny and so deserving of the success and critical acclaim they’re getting. Hearing John Cleese’s anecdotes in the main auditorium will also be a real privilege.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas will be inevitably bleak, but it’s an important story and looks to be a really powerful production. I’ve also wanted to see The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time for the longest time, so I’m excited for it to come here in May.”

Amy Smith, Marketing Officer


“My introduction to Kneehigh was Brief Encounter, the last week-long show in the old theatre. I was hooked and have seen them a couple of times since, so I’m really looking forward to welcoming them back with Rebecca.

As an audio describer (our service for blind and visually-impaired customers), it’s going to be interesting to experience the described performances of Henry IV Parts I & II. The RSC are sending their own describer and I’m sure I will learn a lot, as well as enjoying these critically-acclaimed productions and seeing Sir Antony Sher in action.

My daughter (18) grew up with the Shrek films, so it will be great to bring her along to see the stage version, along with my younger son, who’s fairly new to the big green guy.”

Sarah Munday, Press Officer


Click here to download both our brochures, then comment letting us know what you’re most excited to see!

Richard Bean on One Man, Two Guvnors

Richard Bean, writer of One Man, Two Guvnors. Image via The Times.

Richard Bean, writer of One Man, Two Guvnors. Image via The Times.

Next month the National Theatre’s critically-acclaimed comedy One Man, Two Guvnors arrives with us. Seen by more than one million people worldwide, Canterbury now has the chance to enjoy this laugh-out-loud smash hit.

In our previous blogpost the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner looked back at how it all began. Now we hear from the show’s writer, Richard Bean.


How did you adapt the play and why

I adapted a version of Don Boucicault’s London Assurance for National Theatre director Nick Hytner in 2010.  Nick described it as a juiced-up old play and our version was a fabulous success. When Nick was talking about adapting Carlo Goldini’s eighteenth century farce, The Servant Of Two Masters, I got the gig.

Can you tell me about your background and how you got into writing..

I started writing very late in life. I was born in Hull, studied psychology at Loughborough University and worked in industry as an occupational psychologist for fifteen years.  I had no particular interest in theatre.  Then at 35 I started doing stand-up comedy which was my first venture into writing.  For that kind of comedy everyone has to write their own material.  I lived with an actor for a while and that got me interested in theatre.

I was 42 when I wrote my first professionally produced play – it was produced by the National Theatre and the Royal Court. 42 was quite old for a first play. I then came to the NT Studio for three-month bursaries for a couple of years and found I could write plays quite quickly.  This was a great boost to me as I could become a full-time playwright. I wrote my second, third and fourth plays at the National Theatre.

Toast was my first play in 1999, and it was 10 years later that I wrote One Man, Two Guvnors.  The first few plays I wrote tended to be ‘hairy bloke plays’ about men at work – trawler men and factory workers and that kind of thing.  That was an early phase if you like.  Then there was my second phase.  They are what I call my ‘counter-intuitive plays’ .  Others have called them controversial plays.

My stand-up background has always meant that I’ve relied on my comedy to keep the audience interested even if I’m dealing with serious subjects.  Other writers, without naming names, might use poetry or sensationalism.  But I’ve always tended to use comedy or the odd funny moment to keep people interested in the plot – even with serious plays like The Big Fellah about the IRA in New York. I’ve written about 15 plays but I’ve only tried to write two out-and-out comedies in all that time.

Emma Barton as Dolly and Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury in September 2014.

Emma Barton as Dolly and Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall. Photo by Johan Persson.

One is my own farce called In The Club about an MEP in Brussels, in the European Union and the second is One Man, Two Guvnors. The stakes are so different when you write a farce. A lot of my plays are incorrectly described as comedies in my opinion. Just because they are funny, that doesn’t make it a comedy.

Farce is incredibly difficult. When I tried to write my first farce, In The Club, I remember sitting in the corner of my study crying – a grown man sobbing. I’m not proud of it. I just couldn’t make it work. It’s so difficult to make a farce work.  Every time someone leaves there has to be clear motivation and every time someone comes in there has to be clear motivation and the doors are so important. It’s unbelievably difficult plotting to do that kind of thing.  In The Club was moderately successful and so I gave myself five or six years off before I tried my next farce. One Man, Two Guvnors wasn’t that difficult to do the plotting as it had already been done by Carlo Goldini.

Why did you set it in Brighton during the 60s?

The credit for the  show should go to Nick Hytner.  It was his conception to do this old Italian Comedia dell’Arte museum piece as a funky 1960s beat band comedy with music hall turns.  If the book works – I don’t mind taking the credit for that. Skiffle was my idea – so I’ll take the credit for that.

The Craze, house band in One Man, Two Guvnors coming to The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury in September 2014.  Photo by Johan Persson.

The Craze, house band in One Man, Two Guvnors. Photo by Johan Persson.

I originally wanted to set the play during the second world war. I was hung up by the food.  In the first half, the central character of Frances is driven by hunger. No one in the 60s was that hungry – you could always get a slice of bread and butter. It was still food. Whereas in the war, people were hungry, and it would have been a drive. It could have been set in the blitz and it wouldn’t have been so good.  Well done Nick, you won that argument.

I don’t think anyone in the audience thinks – it’s 1963 – how can anyone be that hungry?  We get away with it.

Are you surprised by the play’s success?

Well, I can’t honestly say I’m surprised. I didn’t have any particular hopes for it anyway.  What has happened has been fabulous. When you write a play and want to get it on, you don’t think – will it be still on and will it go to Broadway. You think – will it survive the first or second night.

When we were in the rehearsal room Nick arranged two performances with audiences.  On the Thursday, we invited about 80 children into the rehearsal room. It was kind of alright, but not that good.  For some of Frances Henshall’s long surreal speeches, the kids didn’t get it at all. We did quite a lot of cuts, and had another school coming in the next day. We did those cuts and the show absolutely stormed it with those school kids. It made us a lot more confident to go into technical rehearsals the next week.

The first preview was such a knock-out, despite technical problems in the first week.  We guessed it would be a hit.

I’m looking forward to seeing this new version of One Man, Two Guvnors, and am particularly pleased that it is touring to so many cities around the UK and Ireland.


One Man, Two Guvnors is at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Monday 29 September – Saturday 4 October.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at playwriting, our new term of writing workshops for all levels of experience starts this September.

Wrong ‘Un: A Suffragette’s Story

Ella Harris playing Annie Wilde in Red Ladder Theatre's production of Wrong 'Un.

Ella Harris playing Annie Wilde in Red Ladder Theatre’s production of Wrong ‘Un.

Our new season in The Marlowe Studio kicks off on Friday 12 September with Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Wrong ‘Un – a one-woman musical drama about the suffragette movement.

This year marks the centenary of the First World War, but landmark dates for the suffragette movement sit alongside this. Not wanting people to forget this history, and with recent prominent feminist conversations in the media (No More Page 3 and Everyday Sexism being two examples), it seems the perfect time for this story to come to the stage.

With 40 years of theatre promoting social change and global justice behind them, Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon talks us through the journey of this particular production, and their move into musical theatre.


Five years ago Boff Whalley (ex-lead singer with the band Chumbawamba) and I decided we wanted to make musical theatre which appealed to audiences who wouldn’t normally access theatre very easily or even willingly.

We made several shows featuring the band and Red Ladder actors; shows such as Sex & Docks and Rock n Roll which toured trades clubs and small theatres, and Big Society! a music hall comedy starring Phill Jupitus.

Unite the Union asked us if we could make them a show about the Suffragette movement which would be performed at Durham Miner’s Gala in 2013. The shows up until then had been expensive to make and tour and so we set ourselves a challenge – to make a one-woman musical with no musicians: an acapella musical. Boff had always wanted to write a show specifically for Ella Harris to perform as he had long admired her work.

The first draft of the play came in and Ella was worried that her character was portrayed as slightly crazy, and who was not afraid to break the law or face a prison sentence. The truth is, that when ordinary people feel the need to take direct action they are far from brave or unhinged – they are usually very frightened and are only taking desperate measures because of the need to force change.

Boff rewrote the piece showing Annie Wilde as much more vulnerable and real – in this way her character quickly forms a positive relationship with audiences who love her humour and her story.

It has come as quite a surprise to us that this little play has exceeded all expectations – and I am sure this is due to the attractive qualities of the character that Ella plays. We made the show more or less as a one-off for Durham in 2013. Fifteen months later it is still touring and it has received four and five star reviews in national and local newspapers and websites. Wrong ‘Un isn’t just a suffragette’s story – it is a story for all of us today.


Wrong ‘Un is at The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury on Friday 12 September and will be followed by a free post-show Q&A.

 

Tips for tackling the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

By Amy Jane Smith, Marketing Officer

Street performances during Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Photo via the Fringe Facebook.

Street performances during Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Photo via the Fringe Facebook.

As much as I love my job, there’s nothing quite like a week off work: turning on the out-of-office and escaping from it all. Except I didn’t quite get away from the world of theatre this time, because I headed up to the world’s largest arts festival: the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

As a theatre fan, the Fringe is one of my favourite places to be, not just for the shows but the whole atmosphere of it. There’s just no place like it.

This year there are 49497 performances of 3193 shows in 299 venues across Edinburgh. Those numbers encapsulate the epic scale of the festival, and could make for a potentially daunting first visit: where do you start?

Last week was my fourth Fringe trip, and while it’s still pretty exhausting (eight shows in one day being a personal record), I’ve learned how to make the most of the time – seeing a variety of shows without wearing myself out completely.

So, with that in mind, here’s some tips…

If you’re not going

Grace Savage in The Paper Birds' Blind. Photo by Richard Davenport. At Edinburgh Fringe Festival, then The Marlowe Studio on 15 and 16 October.

Grace Savage in The Paper Birds’ Blind. Photo by Richard Davenport.

It seems a bit of an odd one to start with but we just wanted to let you know, whether you’re at the festival or not, that Edinburgh will be making its way to Canterbury. In our 150-seat venue, The Marlowe Studio, we’ll be presenting the best of the festival.

The Paper Birds’ Blind, a one-woman show starring UK beat-boxing champion Grace Savage, will be here 15 and 16 October. Bridget Christie is currently selling out her new show but last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning A Bic For Her is with us on 30 September. New show Sara Pascoe VS History is currently receiving rave reviews and will be with us on 9 December. (Bridget and Sara are both mentioned in The Guardian’s list of unmissable stand-ups.)

So if any of these are on your list of shows to see at Edinburgh, save them for when you get home and see something else! (Alternatively if you won’t be around, definitely see them there.) To let the festival fun continue, our new Studio brochure comes out later this month but many of our shows are on sale now.

What to see

One of this year's highlights: Theatre Ad Infinitum's Light. Photo by Alex Brenner.

One of this year’s highlights: Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Light. Photo by Alex Brenner.

One of the joys of the Fringe is the variety of work presented. Seeing several shows in a day means you’re more able to try something new, so venture into genres that you wouldn’t usually.

In terms of choosing what to see, I pore over the Fringe brochure when it comes out – circling things that really appeal to me and then making a bit of a shortlist. Then in Edinburgh, the brochure is abandoned in favour of the Edinburgh Fringe app – with chronological listings for each genre.

Follow publications via social media for lists of what to see (eg from The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner) alongside reviews as they come in. Also search #EdFringe on Twitter to see what people are raving about.

If you do want some personal recommendations, I’ve written a blogpost on my top five must-see shows (out of the 26 we saw).

Plan but be flexible

A familiar site during Edinburgh Fringe Festival: many, many posters. Image via Huffington Post.

A familiar site during Edinburgh Fringe Festival: many, many posters. Image via Huffington Post.

If you really want to see something, book it. This is especially important at this stage of the festival when reviews and first awards are out. It’s also good to have a shortlist of things which you know you’d like to see, but I wouldn’t plan out every single day ahead of time.

Part of the fun is being flyered, talking to people about what they’ve seen and just being a bit spontaneous. One of the best things we saw was simply because we had some time and clicked the ‘nearby now’ section on the Edinburgh Fringe app.

Working to a budget

It’s easy to over-spend on shows, food and drink when you’re in the festival mood but it’s also easy to save money if you put some thought into it.

Too late for this year, but the first Monday and Tuesday of August most shows have 2 for 1 offers so this will save you a lot of money. Throughout the festival there is the Virgin UK Half Price Hut on The Mound. You can check the Edinburgh Fringe app and website to see which shows are on offer that day before heading down there.

There are also 825 free shows at the Fringe this year. There’s some really quality stuff out there, and you get the wonderful feeling of finding a hidden gem without paying a penny (except the optional but encouraged post-show donation).

Where to eat

There’s so many great places to eat, but one definite recommendation would be The Mosque Kitchen on the grounds of the Edinburgh Central Mosque – a two minute walk from Pleasance Dome. We had two different vegetable curries with rice for £4.50, which is a wonderfully ridiculous price for good food. Close by on Potterrow is The Potting Shed – lovely reasonably priced food served in a friendly and quirky setting.

For casual street food with good sharing options try The Assembly George Square Gardens.

What to take

People aren’t lying when they say it rains in Edinburgh. I don’t know why they would, but it really, really does. Even when the weather is nice, it’s changeable – so take an umbrella, a waterproof jacket, sensible shoes and then layers.

With hectic days it’s easy to eat at odd times or get hungry so take snacks with you to have on the go, and a water bottle to re-fill.

If your smart phones are as ridiculous, and your festival days as long, as ours – then take a charger out with you to charge at a venue or pub (as long as they don’t mind).

Getting around the city

Get inspired and/or delayed on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Photo via Edinburgh Fringe Facebook.

Get inspired and/or delayed on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Photo via Edinburgh Fringe Facebook.

When planning a show, whether in advance or on the day, work out where you’re going and leave enough time. It sounds obvious but it’s easy to be over-ambitious when wanting to fit everything in, and the venues can be really spread out across this incredibly hilly city. It’s easy to be fooled too by venues with multiple sites, so do double check this.

It’s only £3.50 for a day ticket on the bus, so that’s worth doing if you’ll be staying out of town and getting across the city during the day. Without getting to know local bus timetables, the maps app on any smart phone will work out the best route for you.

And if you do need to get somewhere fast, do not walk down the Royal Mile…

Seeing Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh. Image via Visit Scotland.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh. Image via Visit Scotland.

You’ll naturally see a lot of the city just through getting to shows, but if you can – take some time to visit Arthurt’s Seat. I’ve never climbed it (we were a tad unprepared), but we did get to spend some time there. The views, even from nearby rocks, are stunning – taking in the whole city and a seaview too.

Also the random pubs with music coming from inside – check them out. A brilliant night was had last year in a pub full of locals and a different atmosphere – reminding us we were in fact in bonny Scotland, not just a random theatrical utopia!


What have you seen at the Edinburgh Fringe this year? Let us know any recommendations or tips that you have!