How Ewe Do It
Penelope Solomon, actress in The Cotswold Connection, discusses Sheep Thrill’s new show with Stephen Chester, and illustrates The List’s new step-by-step guide to producing your very own Fringe success.
I) lfyou want to make it big, then ﬁrst get funding:
‘We originally got some money from museums in the West Country. as a commission to set up a show celebrating the wool tradition. The show's a celebration of sheep and therefore wool, and everything else to do with sheep. it also celebrates mint sauce, although we don’t like to push that side too much because we're vegetarians.
2) Then you‘ve got to think of a story:
‘Monica. the prize-winning, rare- breed sheep, is in trouble. The Maﬁa are out to kidnap her for their own devious ends. Don Canelloni sends his two sons Al Dente and Al Fresco to perform the devilish deed. Hot on the trail pursuing the kidnappers are the British intelligence. known as the MFl.‘
3) inject some pathos into that story:
‘Once you start watching it you are taken because you do care about Monica. There are tragic moments.
4) Then include lots of crap jokes:
‘One ofthem says ‘Watch me like a hawk.’ so the two other British intelligence men turn into hawks. And then he says ‘l can see we're going to get on swimmingly.‘ so they swim. We‘ve got another joke about going barking mad — see you in the bar. Gettit?
5) Suggest there are other jokes which don‘t sound totally crap in previews:
‘The actors have worked with Trestle and the Royal Court. and some of them have trained at LeCoq. So it‘s fast moving, very visual. and very, very physical. lt's slapstick. it’s not boring.’
6) Do lots of research:
‘I went out into the Cotswolds and ran in the ﬁelds with the sheep. And I did a few baas. it‘s funny but they didn't mind me being there. When I‘m on stage now ljust have to think back to ﬁnd the sheep again. it really helps.‘
7) Design your costumes:
‘Take a mop. You know the end ofa mop? it‘s kind of stringy and short. Chop that off. put that on your head and get a black clown’s nose. And there. you’ve got your sheep.’
8) End your interviews with a pithy phrase designed to entice the punters:
‘You will come and see it. won‘t you?‘
I The Cotswold Connection (Fringe) Sheep Thrills Theatre Co, Stepping Stones (Venue Si) 225 6520/226 2151. l3 Aug—4 Sept. 3pm. £5 (£4).
' Saints alive
A recent article in The Scotsman complained about the increasing 'number oi adaptations that are reaching the stage. We should indeed be concerned it good original plays are being squeezed out in iavonr oi unsuitable spin-ens, although I'd question how much it is a real trend. But it strikes me that even it it is a trend, it is one that on the whole is artistically and not commercially inspired. This is certainly the case with Communicado’s Berry Mulgrew, who has otten been able to explore theatrical terms more treely when liberated from the structure imposed by a conventional script.
And it’s telling that his latest adaptation, a reworking of Flaubert’s short story The legend at St Julian, not only dispenses with a playwright, it also ditches most oi the words. When I spoke to Assistant Director
1’ ’/ / l/
Paul Plnson recently, he described the unease ielt in rehearsals when even a single word is spoken, so accustomed have the company become to communicating through physical
language alone. Much of the reason lot this is the central role given to artist Keith McIntyre who has been collaborating with Mulgrew on the production’s visual shape since well before the actors became involved. ‘It is about trying to create a language which is a synthesis oi a lot oi things,’ says McIntyre who has also worked closely with musician .lim Sutherland. ‘Painting is probably the most primeval statement - earliest records of man, artistically, we painting. A child paints and draws before he or she can walk or even talk. As an artist, l’rn getting an idea down and collectively we’re saying what that idea is and using that as a starting point . . . You’ll be aware of the way Communicado works in that it you see a show on the iirst night there’s no way It’ll be the same show on the last night. That process of constant enquiring is crucial.’ (Mark Fisher) The legend oi St Julian (Fringe) Cornmunicado, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, 17 Aug-4 Sept, various times, £8 (£5).
Stephen Chester suggests some hors d’oeuvres tor teatime.
I Thunder Thighs & Blue Blade Nine out often sufferers from eating disorders are women. One out of ten die. Harsh statistics and hard theatre from Scotland‘s only professional female theatre company.
Thunder Thighs & Blue Blade (Fringe) E ven'wornan. Diverse Attractions (Venue II) 225 896], l6—21Aug, 5.15pm. £3 (£1.50).
I Diﬂicult Women A one-woman show which brings readings from the diaries of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein together with work and music about Sylvia Plath. Frida Kahlo. Sojourner Truth and Katherine Mansﬁeld. Dtﬂicult Women (Fringe) Unspeakable Acts. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 215]. 13—29 Aug. 4pm. £5 (£4).
I Alistair McGowan and Bonnie Ancona Alistair has ‘a Trevor Brooking that sends a chill down the Spine of a West Ham fan’, whilst Ronnie provides ‘the ﬁnest Marilyn Monroe impression by someone with dark hair.’ They're
Alistair McGowan and Ronnie Ancona (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 215/. 13—20 Aug. 4.30pm, £5.50 (£4.50).
I April In Paris Godber‘s new comedy follows the travails of Al and Bet as they travel to Paris for the ﬁrst time. April In Paris (Fringe) Hull Truck. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, I6 Aug—4 Sept. 3pm. £8.50/£7.50 (£6.50/7.50).
I The Art Of Dining Two successful restauranteur sisters embark on an evening’s odyssey in which both they and their patrons travel from the heights of ﬁne dining to the very edge
of the primordial ooze.
The Art ofDining (Fringe) Foot In The Door Productions, Chilft'll Hill Theatre (Venue 46) 447 7597. 16—21 Aug.
4.30pm. £3 (£2). The List 13-49- August-663 33