Monday, August 8, 2011

Black Shorts - An Interview with Rebecca Thomson

One thing I love about the internet is the ability to meet people that you have a lot in common with. On my other blog, I have a connection to people through diabetes, but sometimes when you get to know people a little bit better you find other connections as well. Such is the case with my friend Rebecca Thomson. Rebecca lives in England (!) and is studying and working in the theatre. While we’ve never met face to face, I’ve found an amazing person and friend in Rebecca and someone who is truly passionate about performing arts.

Rebecca is a very busy woman right now. But, I’m going to let her tell us about what’s going on.

1.) First off, tell us about Mary’s Sofa? How did it start? What are you about?

Mary's Sofa started up as a new writing company, with the hope that those of us involved could create our own platform for getting our work, and the work of other writers, seen. After you pass certain age brackets, it’s really hard to get anything read by people in the industry, especially as unknown writers. So we felt that we needed to make our own opportunities, and pool our experiences and resources!

2.) Give us a synopsis of Black Shorts

Black Shorts is really a diverse collection of short pieces, with a dark, or darkly comic tone. We sent out an invitation online for anyone who had a story they wanted to tell, to send us their short scripts, and we'd choose the best pieces, and form a show with them. We actually received so many submissions, that after we'd mixed in our own writing, we had enough material for two one hour shows. We've got some slice of life comedy, some absurdist pieces, life, death, and a talking monkey. In fact, name it, and there's a good chance it's there!

3.) For those of us who are in the U.S. and don’t know a lot about the theatre world in England, explain what Edinburgh Fringe Festival is and how you are involved.

The Edinburgh Fringe is one of, if not the largest theatre festivals in the world. It started out as an offshoot of the Edinburgh festival, and has now pretty much overshadowed it! It's all a bit of a madhouse, but it really is a one of a kind event. You get comedians, theatre companies, magicians, musicians. It's all there and more. We've come as a company to be part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival, which is part of the Edinburgh fringe as a whole, but the difference being that all the performances are free to watch. The cost of so many of the shows would probably be the main complaint of most people who come for the festival, I think.

4.) When and where will Black Shorts be performed and how would one go about getting tickets for the show?

Black Shorts is being performed at an Irish pub called Finnegan's Wake, on Victoria Street. Its right round the corner from The Royal Mile, which is the centre of most fringe activity. We've been performing since the 4th, and we're here till the 12th August, every day at 16:45. Regarding tickets, you don't need to worry about that. Being part of the free festival, you can just turn up and take a seat!

5.) What has been the hardest part about getting ready for Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

I think it would be the fact that none of us can devote all our time, even though we'd like too. We're all tied up with work, and postgraduate study, and sometimes both. Finding the time, energy, and resources has been a struggle at times. I believe it's been worth it though.

6.) Anything special you’d like to share with my readers about Mary’s Sofa, Black Shorts or Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Probably that the whole project has been a real labour of love, right from the word go. I think it means a lot to a number of people, and not just us as performers. We're giving stage time to writers who might not otherwise get it, and we've had such support, in all manner of ways. From our friends and families, who built us collapsing life sized picture frames, to our amazing graphic designer, and even local shops who loaned us a taxidermied badger (we christened him Horace). It's brought a lot of people together in a really unusual way.

Mary's Sofa can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Below is a video preview of Black Shorts. And since I have no passport and no money to go see this show myself, go see it for me and then let me know what you think of it! :)

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