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EDINBURGH 2018: BWW Q&A - Di and Viv and Rose

EDINBURGH 2018: BWW Q&A - Di and Viv and Rose

BWW catches up with Handmade Theatre to talk about taking their production of Di and Viv and Rose to the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Tell us a bit about Di and Viv and Rose (in an hour)

Di and Viv and Rose (in an hour) follows the enduring friendship of three women through their university years, into adulthood. We have loved our discussions with Amelia Bullmore (the writer) and together we decided we wanted it to be clear that this is Handmade Theatre's condensed version of her critically acclaimed play. So we chose (in an hour) to really emphasis that.

In our 'one hour-version' we focus more on the young women looking forward into their future, as opposed to reflecting back on their lives. This is what felt more poignant for us as younger actors.

Amelia's play beautifully celebrates life's miniature triumphs and unavoidable mistakes. It is a play about growing up and growing old, about what we hope for in the future and how much we cling to the past.

Handmade have worked very hard to condense the story into an hour - which has not been easy! We have strived to maintain Amelia's genius for detail and intimacy, whilst focusing on the most pivotal moments of these women's lives

Where has it been performed so far?

We premiered the show in January of this year in London to a sold-out audience. We were blown away by the response we received and this gave us the courage to take the play on further. The audiences have been very diverse but all united, men and women, young and old, in their enthusiasm for the play and many have said how relatable they found it, even the male audience members.

After our run in London we toured it to Senior Schools where we performed the play to students from Year 8 - Year 12. Again, we were amazed at how the play offered something to these audiences too, and provoked such interesting discussion afterwards, about the paths we choose early on in our lives having a lasting impact and also about the friendships that are at the heart of the play.

It felt incredibly rewarding performing to the students, particularly the older ones who were preparing to leave school and about to step into the same phase that we explore in the play. The women in Di and Viv and Rose are learning how to manoeuvre their way in the world amidst their new-found independence so naturally a younger audience can resonate with this.

We are thrilled to be performing the play at Trish Wardley's 'Fresh Lines' in Spring restaurant, Somerset House. We are so inspired by Trish's passion and vision behind the event, which is created to support and promote emerging theatrical talent, whilst enjoying a breakfast curated by the incredible chef, Skye Glyngell. We love the idea of bringing theatre, and this play especially, to non-conventional spaces.

It has been an amazing journey since we started rehearsals in our living room back in October 2017.

What has audience response been and how have people related to the play?

The audience response has been staggering. The original play, at Hampstead Theatre in 2013, received much critical acclaim, with a successful West End transfer. We could only hope that our shortened version would provoke a similar response. So far, so good!

Both men and women have responded with great enthusiasm for it. One man said it highlighted everything he wishes he could say to his male friends. As the play follows three women through their lifetime, we have found that there is something for every different age group to take away.

It can also be very nostalgic for people looking back on their university years in 1980s, especially as the soundtrack is made up of carefully chosen 80s music, including Prince and Blondie.

One of the reasons we love the play is that it connects everybody to friendship's impact on life, and life's impact on friendship, which is something we all have experience of in some form.

How was Handmade Theatre founded and what is its ethos?

Handmade Theatre was founded by Georgie Oulton and Allegra Marland in October 2017. We have been best friends since the age of 8 and are both actors. Handmade came about because we were keen to start generating our own work. We have loved Di and Viv and Rose for a while and the company was set up around the idea of getting that play on.

Once we realised that taking things into our own hands was all we needed to do to gain some autonomy as actors, we got very excited about what other opportunities we could create for ourselves, and others. We couldn't believe how many of our talented friends and fellow actors were out of work, so the first thing we wanted to do was change this.

We felt that there weren't enough platforms for emerging professionally trained creatives to take risks. We aim to create an a warm and generous environment for them to perform in and try out new material, as well as meet other brilliant people doing the same thing.

Our initial goal was to help make theatre inclusive and to collaborate with other young creatives. With this in mind, our new writing night 'Words and Things' very naturally evolved. The event was hatched in our living room. A group of friends came round and performed bits of writing they had been developing. It was a lot of fun, and a very exciting Little Room to be in.

Four years on, these friends are now having their work performed at Soho Theatre, N16, Etcetera Theatre - the list goes on. So we relaunched 'Words and Things' as an official event, as part of Handmade Theatre, at the Arcola Theatre this year, with ten artists performing extracts from their own work and work that had been written for them.

It was a huge success, with another sell-out audience, and it generated a very generous and exciting buzz around it. We can't wait to do the next one, which will hopefully be a collaboration with Clean Break Theatre Company.

As an all-female theatre company, we are passionate about telling stories with women at the forefront. However, Handmade Theatre do not wish to confine ourselves to feminist pieces or all-female casts, because we don't wish to be divisive or alienating in our politics. We do feel that it is a very exciting time to be a woman in this industry, particularly for young women.

We wish to continue to help engrain female roles and writing in the theatre and to be part of the current movement of change by developing work based around stories close to our hearts. Di and Viv and Rose (in an hour) is our first production and we cannot wait to do more. We have hopes of transferring to New York after the Fringe and also to return to London for a longer run.

To keep up-to-date with our news you can visit our website here: https://www.handmadetheatre.org/

Who would you recommend comes to see it at the Fringe?

This play has something for everyone, of all ages. It deals with the universal themes of sexuality, loss and all kinds of love. It touches upon the moments in your life that bring you clarity and purpose. The moments that change your life forever and inform how you live the rest of it, whilst also celebrating our everyday triumphs and challenges.

As we have seen from our responses so far this year with the play, it doesn't exclude anyone. We have had fantastic responses from both men and women. We cannot wait to get onto the Mile this summer and encourage everyone, especially those in Edinburgh with a group of friends, to come and watch this amazing tale about the power of friendship.

Ticket details and timings for Di and Viv and Rose are available on the edfringe website

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