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Homos Promos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012 you are bringing two shows to Edinburgh.

What can you tell us about "Locked In"?

 

“Locked In” is based on the journals of a painter called Keith Vaughan, who was very big in the 1950s-70s. He was part of what’s called the neo-realists. Landscape and portrait which becomes increasingly abstract as he gets older. He was a great friend of Sutherland, Bacon, John Minton, Hockney etc. He was gay, and it shows in his painting. Most of his images are of men and boys, especially bathers. But there’s always a feeling that somehow he is apart from them. They are unobtainable. This gave rise to the title of the show (maybe it should have been ‘Locked Out’!)

 

But the reason to write a show about him is that he kept diaries for about forty years, and they are some of the most vivid, funny, angry, sad, sexy journals ever written. You really enter his mind. They’re also very dramatic, so it’s taken very little alteration to bring them to life in a script for the stage. It’s also the 100th anniversary of his birth, so there’s a certain interest in him in the art world at the moment, especially in Scotland where the National Gallery has some of his best pictures. So this was the right moment to do the show, and Edinburgh is the right place.

 

 

How was the writing process and how are rehearsals going?

 

Like I say, it was very easy to turn into a script. The main problem is knowing what to leave out! In Edinburgh you’re always constrained by your time slot, which is usually 50-55 minutes. I find I keep tinkering with it, adding or subtracting. Maybe this is displacement activity to avoid learning the lines! I’ve had reluctantly to leave out some wonderful incidents and entries, simply in order to concentrate on making sense of his life as a whole. I want the audience at the end to feel that they really know this man, all his talents and inhibitions and thought processes, and that they’ve been on the same journey as he went through in his life.

 

We’re only just starting rehearsals, and mainly I’m focusing on learning at the moment. Next week is about how to animate the words, to break it up and bring it to life. The character goes from 29 to 65, and I’m 63, so that’s going to be a real challenge. Also I think it was Ralph Richardson who described acting as a waking dream which you share collectively with the audience. I’d like to get that intimacy and communication, but it’s not really something you can rehearse. All you can do is know the thing backwards and then trust it to make that connection.

 

"Stripsearch" is returning with Damola Onadeko.

 

 

Can I ask why this is coming back and will there be any changes to this year's production?

 

We sold out last year and garnered some very nice reviews (thank you, Dark Chat!). And Damola was nominated for Best Actor for his performance as “Squaddie”. So we’re coming back to a slightly bigger venue, which is the Cabaret Space. Also to a late night time slot at 23.05. These two things will change the nature of the performance. It means that there has to be more interaction with the audience, and this will push Damola so he really has to fight to get the serious parts across. I’ve done a few rewrites to reflect this, put in a bit of audience participate. I’m anticipating that the audience will be a little bit less respectful at the start, more “Get ‘em off!”, But Damola has to bring them down gradually and draw them into his story. I think the contrasts between the real-time strip he performs and the story he tells will be much stronger. That’s the idea, anyway, and that’s his challenge.

 

 

What will your role be at this year's festival ?

 

I’m directing Damola, as last year, but I’m also performing “Locked In”. I do cabaret all the time, but it’s some time since I’ve done a serious one-man play, so there’s a certain amount of nerves. I’ll be operating lights and sound for “Strip Search” too. Plus all the usual – PR, schmoozing, seeing shows, getting drunk…

 

 

When was your 1st Edinburgh festival?

 

I first came up in 1974, with an Oxford University revue, “Here It Comes”. It was the most financially successful show I’ve ever done – cost £29 to mount, and took £3,250! Also it got nominated for a Plays and Players Best Musical Award by Harold Hobson, no less. I think it was because I threw a book across the stage in one sketch and accidentally hit his calliper. I reckon he liked his theatre a little masochistic!

 

 

Why did you come?

 

Even then it was incredibly glamorous in its image. We were all looking for fame and fortune. It was soon after Beyond the Fringe, and the whole Oxbridge thing. And for many it worked. Mel Smith was in the company that year, and Geoff Perkins who became an incredibly successful TV producer and Head of BBC Comedy. I got commissioned to write a sort of hybrid revue-play, which was intended for the combination of Glenda Jackson and John Cleese. You can see why that never got off the ground!

 

 

What did you expect?

 

I expected to be swept off my feet to Hollywood. And to have lots of sex.

 

 

How did the reality differ from your expectations?

 

Well, I did have lots of sex, which was very nice. Also very opportune, because it meant I could move out of the Masonic Lodge on Johnston Terrace where OUDS was billeted (there was a stuffed bear in the hall). We were sleeping 30 to a room on camp beds, so it was nice to be able to move in with a cute Bass from the Finnish National Opera.

 

As you can see from the living arrangements, it wasn’t at all glamorous. And I didn’t realise beforehand how tiring it would be.

 

 

What is the best thing about the festival?

 

Meeting people involved in theatre from all over the world. You build an incredible network if you’re lucky, especially if you’re involved with an organisation like theSpace, which has literally dozens of shows going. Last year I met performers and writers from Singapore, Canada, US, Spain, France, Ireland…

 

 

What is the worst thing about the festival?

 

The cost, which gets steeper every year. Also selfishness. There are some companies and performers who just live in the bubble of their own show, and aren’t interested in anything else. This makes for a nasty competitiveness. An international festival like this should be about sharing ideas and giving support to each other.

 

 

What has changed over the years?

 

A/ For the better –

 

It’s got much, much bigger, the Festival Fringe office has developed (which was very amateurish when I first came), so you get more efficient support – if you’re lucky, because they are very overworked. The standard of the best shows has got much higher, and the Fringe is really where it’s at. The main Festival has been starved of money and it’s a shadow of its former self. The media is more developed, and there are more chances of getting reviewed in more publications, including the Nationals. When you’re taking a show back somewhere afterwards, reviews are very important to bring in audiences, especially for new work.

 

B/ For the worse–

 

The cost I mentioned. The result is the plethora of stand-up and one-man shows. Nobody can afford to bring real plays or musicals unless they’re incredibly rich or have public subsidy in one form or another. I hate stand-up, though I think that may be because senses of humour are a generational thing. And to be fair, it brings in a different audience to the Fringe.

 

The downside of the media – constantly having to go online and Tweet, update websites, and go to Facebook, bad internet connections. BT is a nightmare in Edinburgh. It can all take over your life. The increasing competitiveness.

 

The gay scene has got crowded, noisy and unfriendly. Nobody over 40 fits in. There’s only one gay pub in Edinburgh I’d go to by choice, which is the The Regent. But I guess this change has happened everywhere.

 

 

Roughly how many shows do you see each festival?

 

Last year I managed 36. This year I’m reviewing for Broadway Baby, so I’m committed to seeing 25 minimum. But this is on top of doing two shows. I don’t know whether to be excited or appalled at the prospect.

 

 

What was your favourite/worst Edinburgh show to watch?

 

Your first is always your best. In 1974 I saw two things I’ll never forget. The first was a promenade play called “Their Very Own and Golden City”, with a cast of thousands. Not the Wesker play, it was about the Anabaptists in Zurich, and though it sounds dry, it was very intimate and moving.

 

The other was the first appearance of Hinge and Brackett. It was perfect because it was in the kind of church hall that the Dear Ladies would perform in anyway; and they greeted the audience individually with a glass of sherry.

 

Worst? Well, I wouldn’t be so unkind. But I really dislike Holocaust plays which rely on the subject for their impact, and don’t bother with proper playwriting, acting or direction. I think that’s thoroughly exploitative. If the cap fits…

 

 

Who is your favourite overall performer?

 

Jack Klaff. He’s an actor/writer who takes incredible risks, isn’t afraid to be intellectually challenging and has great audience rapport. He’s not coming this year, unfortunately.

 

 

What is your favourite place to eat/drink ?

 

My own flat. I always cook for the company, and I’m really quite good. Nothing like sharing a meal with friends after a good performance and relaxing over a bottle of Tesco’s finest red.

 

 

What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?

 

Seeing people who I met previously and catching up on what they’ve been doing. Going to the top of Arthur’s Seat and out to Crammond, to get away from it all.

 

 

 

We also interrupted the rehearsals of DARKCHAT nominee for Best Actor, Damola Onadeko to discuss all things Fringe.

 

 

"So, what attracted you to the role of Squaddie in “Strip Search?”

 

I was drawn by the characters complexity and his enscrewed view on life and how he thinks he is playing the system rather than it being the other way around. He is a troubled soul with a dark past-so an opportunity to play such a role for any actor is more appealing than your typical Prince charming leading role. There is more emotional depth to get my teeth sunk into with Squaddie. Plus it being a one man show meant all attention is on me ;-)

 

 

Do you find him a like-able character?

 

I think he is misunderstood and somewhat a loner. However he is protective and caring for those he loves and for me those are traits which I can empathise and endear with. So yeah I think deep down inside Squaddie is a likable and warm guy underneath all that stone cold male bravado

 

 

The role looks extremely physical. Do you have to be fit to play it?

 

I think you need to have a good level of physical dexterity to portray a male stripper, and that does need the aesthetics and stamina to pull off the moves.

 

 

Have you always been comfortable with the nudity in the show?

 

Er...think it was needed as a metaphoric notion towards Squaddie removing layers of himself.

 

 

This year's show starts at 23.05, how do you structure your day and how easy is it to unwind afterwards?

 

I LOVE my sleep. Any chance I can get to get some shut eye. Just ask Peter where you can find me during the day and he will point towards my bed. That and the gym of course. Im simple like that. Lol. As the show is incredibly tasking physically I normally just crash afterwards anyhow.

 

 

How have rehearsals gone for this year’s show? Will you be making any changes to your performance?

 

I think as an actor you are always self critical about yourself and look to improve on your last performance otherwise you stagnate if you rest on your laurels. So Im looking to add a little. You'll just have to come and see it...

 

 

What are your memories about last year’s show?

 

The audiences intensity towards the more shall I say uncomfortable parts of the show.

 

 

When and why did you first come to the Edinburgh festival?

 

2007 with a show called Denied.

 

 

What is the best thing about the festival?

 

The architecture. Edinburgh has probably one of the best landscapes I have ever seen. The castle is breathtaking.

 

 

What is the worst thing about the festival?

 

The weather. Come on with the rain already!!

 

 

Roughly how many shows did you see last year?

 

Way below what I wanted to see. Give or take think about 12...I know pretty bad

 

 

What were your favourite/ worst Edinburgh shows to watch?

 

The best show was a silent comedy by 3 male actors set in film noir genre. I just cant remember what its called but it was a hoot. Worst im not naming and shaming....

 

 

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink?

 

Got to be Heights restaurant in Grassmarket. Remarkable view and good Scottish food.

 

 

What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?

 

Strip Search!! Whats wrong with a bit of self promotion ;-)

 

 

 

 

Homo Promos are taking two shows to the Fringe this year

LockedIn is at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall from 13-25 August at 12:50

Strip Search is at SpaceCabaret @ 54 from August 3rd at 23:05

For more information visit http://www.homopromos.co.uk/shows/index.html

LockedIn

 

Last year DARKCHAT David thoroughly enjoyed

the triple nominated "StripSearch"

 

We contacted Peter Scott-Presland to discover

 what Homos Promos will bring to the Scottish

capital this year. In the process we discovered

how much the Scotish gay scene has changed

in almost 40 years.