+3 Interview: Ane City

“Ane City is our company’s first project and we’ll be premiering it at Edinburgh Festival which is incredibly exciting for us both.”

WHO: Taylor Dyson: writer and performer & Calum Kelly: director, dramaturg and musician

WHAT: “Tay has returned to her hometown of Dundee for a summer of relaxation, drinking and self-discovery. But first, she has to get through a night out with her friends, hitting the streets of Dundee. From tacky pubs with seedy bouncers to revelations on the McManus steps with Rabbie Burns, Tay attempts to find herself in the city of Dundee. A theatrical, poetic one-woman show that combines elements of Scots language, storytelling, song and comedy. ART Award Winner 2019.”

WHERE: Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) 

WHEN: 14:20 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

TAY: We’ve been to Edinburgh a few times being quite local, however this is actually our second time performing at the Festival Fringe. In 2017, we took a Scots adaptation of Lysistrata for two nights at The Arthur Conan Doyle Centre.

CAL: We did it for the experience of taking a show to Edinburgh really. Performing at the Fringe is a world away from attending. The show was a feminist retelling of Lysistrata, set in a Glasgow pub, with songs. But Ane City is our first show as Elfie Picket Theatre.

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

CAL: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do any festivals last year as we were both completing Masters Degrees at Glasgow University, and all of our deadlines fell in August. However, we won the Assembly Roxy Theatre Award for Ane City and are just off the back of previewing the show at Prague Fringe Festival.

TAY: Which was such a fun and exciting festival to preview our first show at. We got on really well, and had some great feedback from audiences; it’s made us even more excited about bringing the show to Edinburgh.

CAL: I guess the biggest thing that’s happened to us since last year is that we both gained Masters Degrees and started Elife Picket as our own theatre company.

Tell us about your show.

CAL: The production is completely ours; Taylor wrote it and is performing the piece, and I’m the director and dramaturg.

TAY: We’ve been working together on it since 2018. We’ve been together as a couple for four years and our company Elfie Picket currently consists of just the two of us.

CAL: We created Elfie Picket last year with the focus of creating work relevant to a younger audience (16+) with a focus on Scots language.

TAY: Ane City is our company’s first project and we’ll be premiering it at Edinburgh Festival which is incredibly exciting for us both.

CAL: You’ll find us performing in Assembly Roxy Downstairs with the piece as we won the venue’s 2019 ART Award for new writing.

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

We would highly recommend Lucille and Cecilia by Bang Average Theatre, Cat Loud’s Torch Songs, Sugar by Lip Theatre Company and Gone Native.


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+3 Interview: The Struggling Life of an Artist

” It truly is challenging working with your creative partner in a different country … oh and then there is that little thing called adulting that tends to take up a lot of your time.”

WHO: Xiomara Meyer and Tamalynne Grant, Writer and director

WHAT: “A struggling movie actress and an aspiring horror writer are on the very brink of success – each just a compromise away. Jessica has been asked to upgrade her sex appeal. Olivia’s book must adopt a male pseudonym. Inspired by real events, this is a comedy (with the occasional song) about the insanity of male-dominated creative industries and the one conundrum every artist will undoubtedly face: the choice to forfeit artistic integrity in the name of success, or to stay true to their art but miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.”

WHERE: C venues – C aquila – studio (Venue 21) 

WHEN: 15:40 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

X: I was here in 2016, as executive producer for the Impi Theatre Company, but this time around I come as a performer, too, with a company I co-founded, so it’s not as intimidating but still quite overwhelming. I have a somewhat better grip of what’s going on, but because the show has so many personal facets too it I feel that the stakes are higher. The Fringe grows every year, so I’m both super excited but also not sure what to expect. Luckily we have a spectacular team coming along with us (Stefanie Matei, Charli Weston and Sylvie Taniguchi) so I’m really thrilled to bring the show to Edinburgh.

T: This will be my first time performing at the Fringe. I think if I was purely coming as an actor then I wouldn’t be so nervous. However, since I also directed the show I feel the extra pressure. I’ve always wanted to perform at the Fringe and I’m extremely grateful to share this experience with my childhood best friend (as cliché as that sounds) but it’s true. There’s also something magical about going back to the roots, having my family come see us perform there. It’s all very magical.

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

You mean since the last Fringe? Well, our lives have been consumed by this show since June 2018, so we’ve just been working on polishing it to be the best it can be. It’s not easy when half the company is in London and the other in Vienna, but we’re stubborn and determined and we make it work. We’re also quite adamant about taking on challenges: the more we revised each draft of the script the more we kept pursuing the “what if…” question and actually going through with the new ideas. We have since worked with an internationally acclaimed musician, two renowned composers, recorded in studios both in Vienna and London, filmed a professional trailer with an up-and-coming director, and made many connections to people in various areas of the arts.

T: I can only add on to what Xiomara just said. It truly is challenging working with your creative partner in a different country: Skype sometimes doesn’t want to work properly so one loses 2 hours just trying to sort out simple technical issues; files get lost over Dropbox; editing the script is a never-ending story, oh and then there is that little thing called adulting that tends to take up a lot of your time. It’s been an intense year full of preparations and planning, improvising, adapting and overcoming plans that failed. If anything I think this past year has helped us grow professionally as artists and has fully prepared us for this year’s event.

Tell us about your show.

X: The show was written by myself and co-written by Tamalynne.

T: In turn I directed and Xiomara co-directed.

X:The show was produced by the company we both founded, Hitting Heads Productions. We’re a small all-female company consisting of our production assistant Charli Weston, our social media manager Stefanie Matei and our technical manager Sylvie Taniguchi.

T: It’s been great working with the girls, they’ve been supporting us 100%, it’s nice to assemble a team who believe in your project just as much as you do. They’ve helped us gain more attention on social media, which was a huge plus! The idea for the story sprung from a monologue written by myself during my final year (we had to produce a 20-minute show) at my conservatory in Austria. The monologue relates to the struggles and constraints of being a woman in the acting industry, something I experienced first-hand at the conservatory, which is why I’m very passionate about these themes and feel very close to them.

X: At the same time, I was living in London and going through my own array of artistic shortcomings in the literary world, not to mention major setbacks in my personal life. Apart from being frustrated artists, Tamalynne and I are also frustrated millennials, so we shared a fierce passion for mutual topics. We met in high school and have known each other for over a decade, so working together is second nature to us.

T: We are like an old married couple when it comes to working together.

X: Yeah, and there were a few times during the rehearsal process when I’m sure both of us wanted to file for divorce! Anyway, we wanted to make the script personal, but also relatable. It began as a rant, but quickly turned into an exploration far beyond being a female in the industry – it’s also about the importance of truthful art in an age where everything seems fabricated for the consumer’s pleasure only. I know it all sounds like a deep dark topic (and it is), but believe it or not The Struggling Life of an Artist is a comedy. The great majority, at least.

T: The play really comes from the heart. We wanted to make the play a comedy because we believe that is the best way to approach an audience. People are generally far more open and accepting to sensitive themes as stated above when you make them laugh. I don’t think Xiomara and I realized how affected we’d feel, though. Not only were we trying to convey a message but we also did a lot of self-exploration: where our strengths lie and what insecurities we still have, all which ultimately shows itself in the characters we portray. This show has been a very interesting journey as an actor as well.

X: We recently had a two-night open house preview in Vienna, and the audience reception was superb. We don’t have time to do previews anywhere else before the Fringe, but we would love to do a European tour in the future!

T: We got a lot of positive feedback for our show, which was very humbling. We were so nervous, and all the hard work paid off. People laughed, they cried, they cheered. One could truly feel the audience go on the journey with us. We would love to bring the show back to Vienna (many requested us to do so) and anywhere else in Europe!

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

The South Afreakins at The Space on the Mile, Where to Belong at Summerhall, Under The Floorboards at PQA Venues.


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+3 Interview: Joe Bor: The Story of Walter and Herbert

“I’d like to turn it into a documentary or a film of some sort and maybe tour the show as well.”

WHO: Joe Bor, Writer and performer 

WHAT: “Award-winning comedian Joe Bor retells the story of the friendship between his grandad (world-renowned town planner Walter Bor) and his grandad’s best friend (world-renowned comedy actor Herbert Lom) and their journey from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to the UK.”

WHERE: Laughing Horse @ The Lock Up – Lock Up 1 (Venue 238) 

WHEN: 15:45 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is probably my tenth show at the fringe. I first performed in 2005 as part of a sketch group, I have performed almost every year since then, in a sketch group or as a solo performer. I haven’t been up for 5 years though.

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

I was in a show called ‘Ultimate Bucket List’ for BuzzFeed, where I got to do a lot of things that were on my Bucket List, it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I spend most of the show being scared. But looking back, it was pretty amazing.

Tell us about your show.

I have been working on the show for a few years, writing and performing it around the country, testing the material. It’s based on an unpublished autobiography that my grandad wrote. So I suppose he wrote some of it. It’s also based on interviews with family members. So I’d like to turn it into a documentary or a film of some sort and maybe tour the show as well.

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

I would recommend Luke McQueen and Nick Helm if they want to see something a bit different. Ian Smith always makes me laugh too.


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+3 Interview: Andrew White: Retirement Tour

“Then last year, I made the step up to a full month’s run with my second show ‘Coming of Age’. It was a lot tougher, and about 15 days in I really started to feel it.”

WHO: Andrew White, Writer/performer

WHAT: “What do you do when life comes to a crossroads? Write a show about it, of course! At 19 years old, Andrew White can’t help but question his next steps: should he keep slogging it out on the stand-up circuit? Or should he leave it all behind for further education? Is this truly the Retirement Tour? A brand-new comedy show from ‘one of the most talked about rising star comedians’ (EssexMagazine.co.uk). Weighing up his future, Andrew takes a hilarious look at the value of comedy vs the benefits of university. ‘Not to be missed’ (Daily Record).”

WHERE: Just the Tonic at The Mash House – Just the Cask Room (Venue 288) 

WHEN: 13:05 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is my fourth year and third solo show up at the Fringe. I didn’t take any show up in my first visit to Edinburgh, but it made such an impact. My parents and I went on a week long trip in 2016 after my GCSEs and I just fell in love. I said to myself on that trip that I’d be up every year from then on, and so far, I’ve kept that promise.

In 2017 I went up for two weeks with my debut hour ‘It Was Funnier In My Head’, and had a great time. It was nice to dip my toe in the waters doing that shorter run, and I made a lot of good friends out flyering and seeing other shows.

Then last year, I made the step up to a full month’s run with my second show ‘Coming of Age’. It was a lot tougher, and about 15 days in I really started to feel it. My first two weeks were amazing, and I spent a lot of time with other comedians, making new connections, and just taking it all in. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends were only doing short runs and I was left on my own for a week before some family came up for the last few days.

It was a steep learning curve, but I still really enjoyed it, and was really lucky with audiences across the month.

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

Since last year, probably the biggest thing that’s happened is that I went full-time with comedy.

It’s greatly subsidised by living with my parents, but still, I can’t believe I’m able to do nothing but stand-up and gig so much. I’m really lucky and extremely grateful.

I also have an offer for university to study Linguistics at Cardiff. So that’s a fairly big event in my life as well, which ultimately forms the basis for my new show…

Tell us about your show.

Retirement Tour is a stand-up show that weighs up the benefits of university vs the creative pull of pursuing comedy full-time.
With a gap year, and indeed, until the end of the Fringe to decide, can I bare to walk away from so many gigs for higher education? Is there any value in doing comedy anyway? Is it a healthy career? Was it appropriate to come out to my parents on stage as part of joke?

The show looks at all these questions, and is quite literally my life as I’m living it. It’s been hard to write at times, because I’m still unsure in reality, but it’s also been a useful way of talking my thoughts through. Comedy is a great way to process life I find, and it is cathartic to turn big dilemmas into comedy.
N/B though, it’s not just live therapy though, it is actually funny, and I try and keep it as relatable and accessible as possible, despite the rather unique position of my conflict.

I’ve been previewing all over the country at various festivals, theatres, and comedy clubs, and it’s starting to come together quite nicely. I’m excited to showcase the finished product in Edinburgh.

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

There’s so so much. I think my top 7 (because I couldn’t whittle down to 5) would be:
– Which Princess Are You? by Sunjai Arif
– Troy Hawke: Tiles of the Unexpected
– Laura Lexx: Knee Jerk
– Josh Berry: Who Does He Think He Is?
– Joe Wells Doesn’t Want to Do Political Comedy Anymore!
– Harriet Braine: Les Admirables
– George Rigden: Spooning with Uri


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+3 Interview: Give Me One Moment In Time by Doug Crossley

“Lyn Gardner … name-checked me as “a young actor of promise”, so yeah, basically, dreams can come true.”

WHO: Doug Crossley, Writer / Performer

WHAT: “Doug Crossley’s solo show brings together songs, comedy and the heartache of trying to understand a friend’s suicide. It’s happy, sad and sometimes silly. It’s a life-affirming love letter to shared moments in a theatre.”

WHERE: Pleasance Dome – JackDome (Venue 23) 

WHEN: 14:50 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

It is my first show as a writer and performer. I have performed at the festival before (ten years ago – shit!) and along with a full run in an “adventure comedy” (still not sure what that is) that fringe included a twenty-four-hour rapid response written piece about Fred Goodwin who had at the time just heralded RBS’ spectacular fall into nationalisation. That was a collaboration with Stephen Moss who was writing an article for the Guardian. He dragged Lyn Gardner along to review it and she gave it one star but name-checked me as “a young actor of promise”, so yeah, basically, dreams can come true.

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

Oxford Playhouse (and Louise Chantal specifically) decided to produce my debut solo show. That’s a bloody big deal for me. I’ve been hustling my way in this industry for a long time so to have a bit of backing from them is very new and very cool. The show has also been supported by Pleasance Futures as part of the Regional Theatre Partnership Programme. It’s a deeply personal show so having some help has made it feel possible to keep taking the risk to tell this story. I’m ridiculously excited/terrified about the whole thing. I also learnt to play the piano to do this show, which has been fun and a cheeky little challenge for my mid-30s brain.

Tell us about your show.

My show is called GIVE ME ONE MOMENT IN TIME. Written by me (Doug Crossley). I was on attachment as a playwright at Oxford Playhouse and immediately before the programme began I found out my friend had died. She wasn’t my best friend, but she was a deeply formative friend. I’ve spent a lot of my time as a playwright (10+ years) writing about trauma, shame, addiction, and most poignantly suicide. My friend took her own life. So, I spent most of my time on that attachment programme feeling angry, confused, and all the other feelings that come with grief. I used to think the theatre could save the world. I didn’t anymore.

Consequently, I really threw my toys out for the pram and didn’t want to write another play. John Retallack, who leads the programme, really championed this mini theatrical rebellion I was in and challenged me to just write. Since I’d “quit” writing plays, I played the piano instead. I took lessons and as I became a human being again I started to write songs. They were observing this one moment in time. Eventually, those songs started to weave a story. That story became this play. It’s a solo show, a musical I guess, about loss, grief, and anyone who ever had a mate that they dreamt big dreams of putting shows on with. It will premiere in Edinburgh this year. 2.50pm, Jack Dome. First Edinburgh. Next? The world.

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

Go see anything, and everything. At all hours of the day. That’s what I plan to do. I’ll be seeking out my other solo show compadres to compare notes and war wounds. I’m not able to recommend those shows yet because I don’t know what they are. But some others I’ll definitely be checking out are Spencer Jones, An Audience With Yasmin Day, and Bryony Kimmings.


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+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)

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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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