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BWW catches up with Oli Dunbar to chat about bringing Rapsody to the 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Tell us a bit about Rapsody

Join Elz, Jams, Toni and latest arrival Jaime, as they confront the realities of our modern-day class system through live rap, trap and drill.

Living in a hostel and battling impossible odds from the beginning, their worlds are upended by the arrival of a newcomer from a privileged background, with deeply held religious beliefs. As the dynamics of the hostel shift, all four struggle to get by, rapping the things they can't bring themselves to say.

How important is rap to the piece?

The influence of rap on the UK in general is at an all-time high right now.

We're living in times where the poor keep getting poorer and spitting bars how always reflected that, even back so far as to New York in the 90s, social commentary was becoming more evident through lyrics as the times were getting harder on the poorest communities at the time.

It's the same thing in Rapsody, we're just reflecting every characters realities through Trap, Rap and Drill.

You'll see Elz, Jams, Jaime and Toni show you what's inside of their souls, through their lyrics, during the course of the play.

Why did you want to bring this story to Edinburgh?

I've been to the Edinburgh Festival before with my own play in 2018, this was when I was in my second year at drama school and we thought 'why can't we take something to Edinburgh and kill it?' So we did, I wrote a play which was called F**K OFF and it got some small critical acclaim and even sold out a few nights.

I remember thinking what we could do if we had actually had a budget and weren't just funding it ourselves.

I was also working with Corey Campbell at the time, on a project called SeaView back in Birmingham and after seeing what his theatre company did with Freeman was cool to witness.

Strictly Arts had just been awarded the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve from the Pleasance and they have gone onto sick things, as have Flesh and Bone ,the play that won the award the year before, they even won an Olivier Award after taking their play to Soho.

We wanted to win the award, not to replicate these projects and their success, but to take inspiration from it, to make sure Rapsody has a similar trajectory, if not even bigger.

Who do you hope comes to see it?

As many industry people as possible, so that we can take the full length version of Rapsody on tour.

This story needs to be told. I believe it's one of the most relevant plays to come out of the UK in a number of years.

What would you like audiences to take away from it?

I can't say what Audiences will take away from it, that's up to them. All we can do as a theatre company is present to you an honest depiction of the world we've created.

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