The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest and most impressive theatre and performing arts festival in the world, and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. This year, a company of students from the University of Warwick will be heading up to Edinburgh with their production, ‘Hear All About It’.
The premise is simple: each week the two writers will work in repetition to craft a play which centres around responding to and reacting on the week’s news and current affairs. Each week the company will devise a new show based on the news of that week. It was director Helen Morley’s idea and she is delighted to see it come to life. She said: “This was an idea I’d had before I came to university and was something I wanted to try out. The usual long process of theatre writing and developing makes it hard to react quickly to current events, so I wanted to see if theatre could be used to discuss issues in a very quick turn-around time”.
“I’m excited to see how my writing will develop and alter over the course of the Fringe”
Writer Eve Allin is excited about the challenge of regularly writing new material. “A satirical commentary is definitely the style I’m going for, but I’m excited to see how my writing will develop and alter over the course of the Fringe”, she said.
The concept of the production has been carefully thought-through. Eve commented on the difficulty of whether they should be impartial in their presentation of the news or allow their own opinions to influence their writing. “Ultimately”, she said, “we have to exercise a certain impartiality to be able to comment on the events we are discussing. We still need to figure out whether we’re reporting on or interpreting and questioning news, but that’s something we hope to learn along the way”.
Another challenge the company has faced is whether they should talk about more sensitive issues. After the Manchester Attack, the company spent their rehearsal time talking about whether they could talk about the attack, if they should talk about it and how should they do it. Actor Rishi Soneji felt that having conflicting opinions about topics and their presentation actually helps to broaden the company’s scope. “We need to be able to see and appreciate both sides of an argument, particularly when considering current affairs”.
“In a climate of cuts and undermining of the arts, having the Fringe as a cultural celebration is so important”
The company think that the setting of the Fringe will enhance their production. Helen commented that “The Fringe is a very accepting environment and is a safe space to try something new. We’re looking forward to feedback from the audience so we can keep improving.” The company is tightly knit and excited about sharing their first Fringe experience with each other.
The excitement within the company is tangible. Eve said “We’re all so excited to go up there and experience the Fringe. I can’t wait for people outside our usual Warwick audience to come and see our show.” Helen added “The Fringe is an opportunity for people from all over the world to come together and share what they’ve made. In a climate of cuts and undermining of the arts, having the Fringe as a cultural celebration is so important. The Fringe brings people together and allows them to value each other’s culture and experiences like nowhere else. We can’t wait to be a part of that.”