+3 Interview: Laura Lexx: Knee Jerk

“I definitely think solo shows are my favourite thing… since I started doing that I feel like the Fringe has just got better and better.”

WHO: Laura Lexx, Comedian

WHAT: “Star of Live at the Apollo, Laura Lexx is a ‘bouncy, bubbly stand up star’ (Telegraph) shining a hilarious light on how hard it is to be a good person these days. Can you change the world without offending anyone? Her sell-out 2018 show Trying was ‘a masterpiece’ ***** (VoiceMag.uk) and earned her a prestigious Comedian’s Choice Award. Now, Lexx takes on society’s big issues… but come for jokes, not answers. It’s sure to be ‘stomach-achingly funny’ **** (Entertainment-Focus.com) and ‘another skilfully-constructed hour from an underrated performer’ **** (Fest). Early booking recommended.”

WHERE: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Turret (Venue 14) 

WHEN: 17:15 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Heck nooooo! This is actually my 10th year visiting the Fringe! I first went up in 2009 to do the Chortle Student Final and then I got hooked. 2010 was my first full Fringe run, 2011 I got together with my husband up there, 2015 I did my first solo show “Lovely”, 2016 was “Tyrannosaurus Lexx” and 2018 was “Trying”. In amongst those solo shows I’ve done a plays: “Ink” (self-written and directed – good lord I was a tedious drama student) and “You Left Me In The Dark”, a sketch show “Maff Brown’s Parade of This”, a quiz panel show “Quiz In My Pants” and a couple of mixed bill line ups “AAA Late” and “The Lunchtime Special”.

I definitely think solo shows are my favourite thing… since I started doing that I feel like the Fringe has just got better and better.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Without a doubt Live at the Apollo.

What a day that was! I was fizzing, I felt like I was in a dream and it went better than I could ever have hoped. You dream about getting to play with the big guys and then, suddenly I was doing it and holding my own! When it went out the reaction was amazing… it’s been a total whirlwind since then! I barely know where I am!

Tell us about your show.

My show is called Knee Jerk this year… Last year I opened up about my own mental health issues in my show Trying, and this year I’m using the techniques I learned in my therapy to cope with anxiety to analyse the things society is anxious about. I know with me when I’m frightened and obsessed with something, there’ll be a root fear that’s irrational driving it and that’s why I can’t put it to bed. I want to take on some bigger subjects this year and I want to look at what’s driving divisions in society at a point where we should be coming together to fight carbon emissions.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Oooh so many… um… Jessica Fostekew, The Noise Next Door, Paul F Taylor, John Pendal, The Delightful Sausage, Joz Norris, Sooz Kempner… that’ll get you started, let me know when you’ve got their tickets and I’ll get you some more.


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+3 Interview: The Art of Skipping

“The Scottish Theatre scene is a beautiful and thriving one, it feels like the festival all year round.”

WHO: Eleanor Griffiths, Writer and Director

WHAT: “‘Never been afraid of the dark, only curious for the spark.’ Alex Peel is a young and bright astronomer, destined for a life in the stars. Then Alex’s life is turned upside-down. Alex is going blind. After working all her life for this big moment of freedom, for her eyes to be opened and released into the mysteries of space, the windows have been shut firmly over her eyes. Follow Alex in understanding whether our destiny is written in the stars and if sometimes there is more to life than in front of our two eyes.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Nicolson Square – Emerald Theatre (Venue 209) 

WHEN: Times vary (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is my first time taking a show to Edinburgh. I was fortunate to have done my drama school training in Scotland so was able to venture to the Fringe many times while I studied there. The Scottish Theatre scene is a beautiful and thriving one, it feels like the festival all year round. I feel very privileged to have been able to grow as an artist up there.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I gained an iron and ironing board after all these years, it turns out my mum is right, your clothes do look better when they have been de-crinkled.

Tell us about your show.

The musical’s story was created by myself with music by one my closest friends – Megan Hughes. The story was imagined after a particularly tough few years where I learned I had an asympotmatic lung problem, that if left untreated would probably kill me. This meant that one of my lungs had to be removed in an incredibly intensive and invasive surgery. For a young person on the brink of finishing her training as a musical theatre performer and someone who relies heavily on their voice and pulmonary stamina it was incredibly daunting.

To help me get through these challenges I began writing. I desperately wanted to build a life around the arts and at that moment the only thing I had the strength to do was to pick up a pen and write. I began thinking about other vocations in life where parts of your body are a seemingly necessary tool to be able to build a career in it. I also enjoy reading popular science books, in particular physics – I read a lot while I was in hospital! This is a joy that has been passed on to me by my dad and I have always wanted to combine the two worlds of musicals and physics. Another factor in creating The Art of Skipping story is that I had also been dealing with problems with my eye-sight for a long time and blindness had always been one of my biggest fears. I was then posed with my question for writing “How does an astronomer see the stars if they cannot use their eyes?”

From here The Art of Skipping was created, it’s a heart-warming musical about an astronomer, Alex, who has always kept her head in the books but her eyes on the skies. She has a bright future ahead of her. But just on the brink of finishing her degree in astro-physics she is given the news that she is going blind. It’s her biggest challenge to date and sends her spiralling out of control in a bid to see everything before she can’t see anything at all. From fear that she will never be able to pursue her dreams of becoming an astronomer, the panic sends everything she truly loved out of focus. But with the help of her mum and partner Jay they encourage her to use this as an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, just like we do as children skipping across the park, with the world at our feet.

I am producing it with my own production company Purple Doors Productions and heading to Edinburgh with a team of four other brilliant women, who have helped shape the story into what it is today. We took it to the Theatre in The Fields festival in the summer last year and have had a successful preview at the Kings Head Theatre in London already. After the fringe we hope to take it on tour. The dream would be to perform it under the stars in some of the countries fabulous open air theaters.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Go see as much as possible across all the different genres showcased at the festival. The beautiful thing about Edinburgh Fringe is the abundance of perspectives you can be challenged with and the questions you come away with asking.

I piece of physical theatre I saw recently called Identity by CTC company is one I’d definitely recommend as this continues the questions and understanding of who we are outside the parameters of our own body.

I also recently heard about a new play while at an Edinburgh Fringe conference called Algorithms. It’s about loneliness in the online world

And if you like space stuff and musicals there’s another new musical out covering these themes at the fringe called Space Junk by Slipshod theatre which I’ll definitely be heading to this year.


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+3 Interview: Konstantin Kisin: Orwell That Ends Well

“I think the job of comedians is to challenge the mainstream narrative, not reinforce it.”

WHO: Konstantin Kisin, Comedian

WHAT: “Konstantin Kisin, who made international headlines by refusing to sign a safe space contract for a university gig, offers an intelligent, uncompromising look at free speech and “wokeness” in his debut show. Full of strong gags, tales of rags-to-riches, back-to-rags (as the son of a former oligarch) and razor-sharp observations about the world, Kisin’s comedy walks the line between offence and humour as he tears into the sacred myths of modern society. Directed by Jonathan Pie with co-writer Andrew Doyle, the show is guaranteed to entertain and ruffle feathers in equal measure.”

WHERE: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wee Room (Venue 14) 

WHEN: 19:00 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

It’s my debut hour but I’ve been a couple of times before to do shorter shows and I lived in Edinburgh for many years.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I made international headlines when I refused to sign a “behavioural agreement form” for a gig at a London university.

Tell us about your show.

The show is called Orwell That Ends Well and it’s about the eroding freedom of expression in the UK. I think the job of comedians is to challenge the mainstream narrative, not reinforce it so it’s a show that will make you laugh, think and sometimes it might even piss you off.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Chris McGlade – you’ve never seen a comedian like him.


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+3 Interview: Robin Morgan: What A Man, What A Man, What A Man, What A Mighty Good Man (Say It Again Now)

“It’s got a very stupidly long title – something I thought would be funny to see on posters but has really battered my word-count in the brochure. So that’s a lesson learnt.”

WHO: Robin Morgan, Writer / Performer

WHAT: “Following a sell-out 2018 Fringe and debut UK tour, the ‘utterly hilarious’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com) stand-up returns with a new hour. Robin’s a father to his son. A son to his father. But what makes a good male role model? As seen on BBC Two’s Stand-Up At BBC Wales. Writer for The Mash Report (BBC Two) and The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4). Tour support for Ellie Taylor and Iain Stirling. Warm-up for The Graham Norton Show. **** (Sunday Times).”

WHERE: Laughing Horse @ The Pear Tree – Main room (Venue 257) 

WHEN: 16:05 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This will be my fourth year performing at the Fringe – I did a 30 minute show in 2015, my first hour in 2016, second in 2018 and here we are now, in the Year of our Lord 2019. I’ve loved every one, but last year was wonderful – great audiences, loved my venue – so much so that I’m going back to the same room, at the same time. What a treat.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

I’ve just finished my first tour – I took the show I did at the 2018 festival around the UK which was lovely, being able to give it life after Edinburgh.

But in more important news, my wife is pregnant with our second child, due 10 days after Edinburgh 2019 finishes. Oh boy.

Tell us about your show.

It’s got a very stupidly long title – something I thought would be funny to see on posters but has really battered my word-count in the brochure. So that’s a lesson learnt.

It’s a new hour of stand-up about my Dad, my son, and what makes a good male role model in 2019. I’ve been slowly building it since September last year, and I’m really excited to take it to Edinburgh. I’ve had 5 people walk out so far at the same bit of material, which I find hilarious, because I’ve never been polarising before, and I really think it could be the thing to start off my bad-boy persona.

I think I’ll tour the show in Spring 2020 but perhaps under a title that won’t baffle people.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

They should see Comedy In The Dark. It’s mad. Four comics perform their sets in a pitch black room. Visual jokes OBVIOUSLY don’t work but it’s so fun to do. I’m hosting it every day.

But if you’re sick of me, then Sophie Duker and Helen Bauer have their debut shows which will be nothing short of brilliant. Maisie Adam and Olga Koch have been making me cry with laughter when I’ve gigged with them recently so definitely them too.


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+3 Interview: Art of Believing – Flamenco

“Our Flamenco Company consists of truly wonderful musicians who not only have the raw talent but an exceptional passion for what they do.”

WHO: Gabriela Pouso, Manager & Dancer

WHAT: “Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company presents Art of Believing, a must-see powerful flamenco performance bursting with passion and authenticity. Daniel’s unique production boasts incredible musicians (singers, guitarists, percussionists, a violinist and a dancer), joining Daniel in a mesmerising and evocative flamenco music/dance show. Art of Believing debuted in Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre in 2017. Since, the Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company has been touring with sell-out theatre performances and gracing the stages of prestigious guitar festivals. After 2018’s hugely successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Daniel returns with his vibrant and exciting production full of fantastic new material.”

WHERE: theSpaceTriplex – Big (Venue 38) 

WHEN: 21:15 (65 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

As the Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company, this is our second year in the Edinburgh Fringe, but as individual artists, we have all been involved in the festival for many years; ranging between 4 and 16 years!

Daniel came to perform as a Flamenco Guitarist in the Edinburgh Fringe of 2015…and the rest is history! During that month he met myself, a Flamenco dancer, as well as incredible Flamenco singers Inma Montero and Danielo Olivera.

From there we all began working together in various projects, including the annual Fringe Festival.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Since last year’s festival, we have been continuing our tour of the UK.

In 2019 so far we have performed in theatres in Surrey and Brighton as well as the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Birmingham’s guitar festival, playing alongside amazing artists such as David Russell and Miloš Karadaglic.

In June we are taking our production to Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre and we have been invited back for a second year running to Ludlow’s Fringe Festival.

Tell us about your show.

‘Art of Believing’ was written and composed by Daniel himself and premiered in Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. The company has since gone on to perform in theatres and festivals across some of the most fantastic cities in the UK…and counting!

Our Flamenco Company consists of truly wonderful musicians who not only have the raw talent but an exceptional passion for what they do. Daniel is joined on stage by Flamenco singers, percussionists, guitarists, a dancer and a violinist which together produce real authentic Flamenco music and dance from the heart.

Don’t miss this fantastic show, whether you are new to Flamenco or are a true aficionado, we promise you a beautiful trip to Andalucia…ole!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

They should check out Tu Flamenco’s ‘Flamenco Tablao’ and ‘FlamencoNova’ as well as The Rootless Company’s ‘From India to Triana’ – both fantastic!


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“History is much bigger than I am.” – Author Harry Turtledove discusses Agent of Byzantium

“Keep writing.  Nothing happens if you don’t.”

WHAT: The Byzantine Empire has not only survived but flourishes. However, the Eastern Roman Empire has many jealous enemies. Enter Basil Argyros, Byzantium’s version of 007, who has his hands full thwarting subversive plots from plotters foreign and domestic. In each story, Argyros finds himself operating in the context of a newly emerging technology – including the printing press, gunpowder, and distilled alcohol – each of which has the potential to disrupt the civilisation and society he is pledged to protect.

WHO: Harry Turtledove is an author in the genres of alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. In this universe, he was born in Los Angeles, CA in June 1949. After failing out of his freshman year at Caltech, he attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977. His dissertation was on ‘The Immediate Successors of Justinian: A Study of the Persian Problem and of Continuity and Change in Internal Secular Affairs in the Later Roman Empire During the Reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (A.D. 565-582).’

In 1979, Turtledove published his first two novels, ‘Wereblood’ and ‘Werenight’, under the pseudonym Eric G. Iverson. Turtledove later explained that his editor at Belmont Towers did not think people would believe the author’s real name was “Turtledove” and suggested that he come up with something more Nordic. He continued to use the “Iverson” name until 1985 when he published his ‘Herbig-Haro’ and ‘And So to Bed’ under his real name. Since then he has gone on to write bestselling ficition, including stories set in a world in which the Confederacy triumphed in the American Civil War, and in which aliens invaded Earth during WWII.

He is married to mystery writer Laura Frankos. They have three daughters.

MORE? Here!


Why ‘Agent of Byzantium’?

Why not?  I was someone who wanted to write science fiction.  I had a doctorate in Byzantine history.  Was I going to write about Estonians?

When one of the big streaming services comes knocking to produce ‘Agent of Byzantium’ as a miniseries, which actor would you like to play Basil Argyros?

Given how little TV and how few movies I watch, I have no idea who actors are these days.

You’ve collaborated with other writers, including Richard Dreyfuss and Judith Tarr. What are the pros and cons? Does collaboration result in better writing?

With luck, the big pro is getting someone who is strong in areas where you are less so, and at the same time shoring up that person’s weaknesses.  The weakness, of course, is that in a collaboration each partner does 100% of the work for less than 100% of the money.

Is there a historical period you haven’t yet tackled that you’d like to?

Probably.  Almost certainly.  History is much bigger than I am.

As a writer what’s the one rule you never break?

Keep writing.  Nothing happens if you don’t.

If you could turn back time and make one change to make today’s world a better place, other than smothering some would-be-tyrant in their crib, when are you going and what are you altering?

There are so many unintended consequences and the web of history is so vast and complex, you never know what changing anything would do.  Even smothering tyrants is dangerous.  There was going to be a World War II after World War I; reasonably smart people saw it as early as the end of the first war.  If you strangle Hitler in his crib, maybe the Germans get a more capable dictator in 1939.

You’ve got a PhD in Byzantine history. What drew you to this “tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery”?

I read L. Sprague de “Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall” when I was 14 or 15.  I got fascinated and started trying to find out what he was making up and what was real (not much and most of it, respectively).  After I flunked out of Caltech at the end of my freshman year–calculus was much tougher than I was–I looked around for something else to do.  Byzantium turned out to be it.  A colleague in grad school got drawn in the same way by Gore Vidal’s “Julian”.

What’s the one thing everyone should know about the Persian problem and of continuity and change in internal secular affairs during the reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 565–582)?

Justin II and Tiberius II were trying to hold together the expanded Empire Justinian had left them with the paper clips and duct tape he’d also left them after burning through resources to expand it.  That didn’t go real well.

You’ve got a solo return ticket for either a year on campaign with Julius Caesar; a fortnight with Hadrian and his entourage at Tivoli; or a day in the library of Alexandria. Which do you pick?

None of them would do me much good, I fear.  Campaigns are apt to be unpleasant and dangerous, I’m no warrior, and I presume I’m not allowed an AK-47. 😉  I don’t speak Latin, and I’m not really enough of a paleographer to work through manuscript Greek, which was written in all caps and without spaces between the words.  So I’ll stay in the 21st century, thankyouverymuch, with antibiotics, anaesthetics, and the Net that lets me annoy people at great distances and with great speed.

What are you working on now, what’s next for you?

I’m writing a new straight historical, “Salamis”, which is next in the adventures of Menedemos and Sostratos, the Hellenistic traders.  It will be done by this fall.  And I’m working on an a-h novella set in a time more recent than the 4th century BC(E).  We’ll see what happens with it.

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Interview: Shine (Traverse 16 – 18 May ’19)

“The show has been like therapy to me…”

WHAT: “Kema’s 3 years old when his family move from Zambia to Newcastle.

It’s a story of new surroundings, about making a new life and then watching that life fall apart. A story about self-belief, trusting your head, your heart and always chasing your dreams.

Actor, rapper, singer, rising star and Live Theatre Associate Artist Kema Sikazwe (I, Daniel Blake), also known as Kema Kay, makes his powerful stage debut mixing a bittersweet coming-of-age story with an electrifying live soundtrack and heartfelt words.”

WHO: Kema Sikazwe, writer & performer

MORE? Here!


Why ‘Shine’?

The title of the show, Shine, is named after my name which means ‘one who shines’ in one of the Zambian languages. I hope people join me on this journey of finding out who we are, accepting who we are, and come away inspired to go find their shine! It’s never too late.

This is your life story. How have the people in your life and audiences reacted to its telling?

There are definitely find some parts in the show they can relate but you can never really judge how an audience will respond. There are a lot of questions that are left unanswered and I know people will want to know. The show has been like therapy to me and I just want the audience to keep fighting the good fight of life and find their shine!

What’s the one thing about Zambia that everyone should know?

It’s a beautiful country!

The Newcastle and Gateshead skylines are famous for their bridges. Which is your favourite?

The Millennium Bridge. I love when it lights up!

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known at the start of rehearsals?

I underestimated how emotional it would be. It’s been a real mixture of emotions. In rehearsals, I broke down a few times as I realised how much bottled emotion I’ve had in over the years. Also, I wrongly judged theatre in the beginning, but once I got a taste of it, I was hooked from then onwards. I’ve been a sponge since starting but I’ve learnt so much in a short space of time.

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