This is a guest post from one of my favourite bloggers Ali George, who you can find online as @periwinklewine and 12 Books 12 Months. Ali is doing some work on a fabby sounding kids show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, and has been kind enough to write me a guest post about it.
They had met through student theatre in 2004, working on a psychedelic interpretation of Love’s Labours Lost.
Since then, they had graduated and moved apart, one training as a director and the other working as a stage technician in venues across Scotland – but they had always wanted to strike out on their own.
I imagine the conversation went something like this:
“Why don’t we start that theatre company we always talked about at uni, when we were working on Into The Woods, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and founding a Pirate Society?”
“Alright, how shall we start?”
“Why don’t we take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011?“
“Good thinking, Batman.”
This plan was scuppered by the second speaker having a surprise year in Canada, where she worked on the Victoria Fringe – which is like Edinburgh only much further away. But when she returned they made a vow that next year, 2012, would be the year Bee George and Hannah Drake brought Homespun Theatre to the masses.
Fast forward to January 2012. Bee and Hannah recruited a production team and cast, and set about making a family show based on an old Norwegian folk tale, East of the Sun West of the Moon. It would be magical and exciting and the under 12s would love it.
There was just one teensy logistical problem. The director and cast were in Bristol, whilst the costume designer, producer, composer and publicist were all in Edinburgh.
This meant that good communication, always of paramount importance when lots of people are working on a project, was even more crucial. It’s really rather difficult making costumes for actors you haven’t met, or composing bespoke music for people when you don’t know what instruments they play, or publicising a show you haven’t seen…
However, everyone in the Homespun team has email and Skype, and we are firmly of the opinion that geographical difference merely adds to the magic and sense of the unexpected that makes this show vital and exciting. Pulling together East of the Sun West of the Moon has not always been easy, but it has never been dull.
Who could forget that time Bee’s van broke down when we were going to go to Bristol to do costume fittings and production shots? Or when it looked like the entire cast might have to sleep on a living room floor for the month because Edinburgh accommodation is so expensive in August? Or that moment where I sent the press release to someone and addressed it to a completely different company? (We won’t be expecting much coverage from them.)
Still, we’ve had lots of fun too. We’ve already made friends with some other shows through the magic of Twitter and Facebook, and we’re looking forward to meeting them soon. We’ve managed to organize a preview show at Portobello Community Centre, an unexpected but welcome chance to gauge the audience reaction before our Fringe run starts on August 3. Several shops have agreed to participate in a treasure hunt down the Royal Mile, helping us give mummies and daddies up to 30 minutes child friendly entertainment whilst they look for our list of magical golden items.
Less than 4% of shows at the festival are for children, so hopefully we’ll go some way towards redressing the balance with East of the Sun, West of the Moon. We want to tell a story that will delight and engage, without being condescending or talking down to our young viewers – but we haven’t had a lot of money to spend on publicity and, just like thousands of other performers, we’re a bit nervous about how it will all go.
Will people like us? Will people come along to find out whether they like us?! We certainly hope so… and we plan to have lots of adventures finding out!