DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

DarkChatLogo-full DarkChatLogo-full

As the festival approaches we are getting VERY excited here at DARKCHAT. As performers do you feel the same way or are the opening days like sitting an exam?


Yes! we can feel the blood start to pump faster we are starting to jump on planes for 24 hours so we have time to get over the jet-lag from NZ. I can't wait until everyone converges in Edinburgh. To quote our new show In the Wine "Oooooh la la!" It's always exciting and nerve-wracking to see what the rest of the world thinks of your shows!!! It's hard to predict from NZ!


Back in 2014 we loved “Back Of The Bus” . We are so glad you are back. Why did you return after a two year absence?


Thanks! We love performing the show. We have done it in 18 different places but it stays fresh because the audiences are all different and we get to know them! Last year we were busy in the studio and in the vineyard getting our new work created, 'tested' and toured in New Zealand. Now we are ready to hit the road again and allure the rest of the world with delicious aromas, live music and of course dance! Hopefully....


I foolishly sat at the front bus and was completely covered in rubbish.  Are there any changes to “Back Of The Bus” this year?


Back of the Bus keeps its classic structure but every show has its differences! We have a new delightful cast member as well as us veterans and a new bus driver I think. We can't wait to jump back on The Red Bus. Now long now!


What has been your weirdest moment performing " Back Of The Bus"?


Ok I probably shouldn't admit this but we once lost the audience...only for a minute. Finding them again was a rather magical reunion. They forgave us! There have been so many weird moments...when the bus accidentally turned on to the motorway in Adelaide, when the audience followed us into the bathroom, when we got stuck in traffic for 20 minutes and improvised a whole new scene (it has only happened once in more than 250 shows all over the world), when Lauren sat down with a couple at a restaurant at one of the stops and started eating their dinner, when I almost missed the bus...There have been quite a few.


What can we expect from “ In The Wine”?


It smells delicious. Expect to be seduced by Cupid, to watch the fall of Rome, to be serenaded by Greek Gods (Dionysus himself comes out to play), fed grapes, wowed by daring feats on top of wine barrels, surrounded by every type of celebration you can imagine, to witness a touch of debauchery here and there. Oh yes and to see the making of wine....with a touch of artistic license. Ok maybe more than a touch. Imagine the taste of a delectable complicated red wine with hints of spice and earthy undertones. That is what we endeavour to serve you. (you can also buy tickets for a NZ wine tasting straight after the show with some of the cast). All our shows surround and immerse the audience's senses. In the Wine is also my favourite show I have ever made...just saying  

(You Tube link here) https://youtu.be/e4Wc3bwtoXo


I was first aware of this show after seeing a tweet earlier this year saying “Really loved in The Wine, not exactly sure what it was, but we loved it”. Is that the kind of response you were hoping for?


Yes! We have trouble describing it ourselves! It is theatre, dance, sensory, narrative and physical with characters who all dance and play live music. There are drums and barrels, a violin, a cello and lots of cinnamon sticks. We are a dance company of 3 dancers and 2 musicians and everyone gets their hands dirty. This is our favourite quote about the show.

"Yes, it has a story, but this is a dance of joy you feel to the extreme, a drama you know in your soul, a dark secret they share that you won’t admit is yours. It is at times lustful, at others bordering on the naughty and lascivious." Theatreview NZ


I have never been called lascivious before as a choreographer! Must be something about being over 30.


How did Java Dance theatre come together?


I started the company in 2003 at the tender age of 21 with some fellow graduates from the NZ School of Dance. At first I had to fit choreographing in between dancing for other people but we gradually did more and more and the desire to choreograph took over. Now I have created 15 shows with inspiration from some fabulous dancers. I am currently researching my new work The Creamery in a village in France (the sequel to In the Wine). We tour all over NZ and it has been great to tour Australia and the UK more in the last few years, including creating a commission for Dance 4 on a tram in Nottingham.


Your shows are at 13.10, 16.30 & 18.15pm. How do you pace your day?


There are 7 of us coming so we can rotate casting and give the dancers a break. Not everyone is in every show. It's a complicated schedule!!!!! I don't usually perform In the Wine but I will be on some days. No one is going to get bored!

We try to make sure everyone is well looked with a stocked fridge and a few more days off than companies usually take at the Fringe.


Why did you first come to the Edinburgh festival?


New Zealand is sooo far away. It's an amazing country at the bottom of the world. There is a lot of creative freedom there but with a population of just 4 million it is good to get seen by the rest of the world. We returned to the UK (but not Edinburgh) last year because some UK presenters wanted Back of the Bus. That was always one of the aims of Edinburgh so we were pretty stoked when it happened!


What did you expect?


We expected to be handing out flyers so we were pretty stoked when Back of the Bus sold out so fast. We also thought there would be more shows similar to ours.


How did the reality differ from your expectations?


There weren't heaps of similar shows at all and I think that will be the case with In the Wine too. It's hard to get a perspective on whether something really is innovative in NZ because we have more innovation than tradition. We knew the festival was going to be fun but it was even more fun that we expected.  


What have been your best Edinburgh festival experiences?


Going to a Celiadh!  

The audiences! They are so fun and open.


What have been your worst Edinburgh festival experiences?


The rain! Although Lauren (one of the dancers from sunny Brisbane in Australia) is pretty good at getting the audience to sing 'singing in the rain' if needed.


Who are you most looking forward to seeing in Edinburgh this year?


Sally Phillips and Lilly Bevan, Joe Lycett, Sarah Kendall, a Celiadh, at least one lucky dip show, The solo Filter, anything Eilidh MacAskill happens to be in, some great live music (yet to be figured out-suggestions welcome). We are on at the same time as most of the dance but we will try to pack in what we can on our days off..along with a little rest.


Despite being inundated with flyers it occurred to us at DARKCHAT that as we are quite organised before we arrive we never watch a show due to a flyer. Last year we had a Flyer Day & saw the first shows we received flyers for. ( We may only have seen 3 shows that day, " Leodo-The Paradise", "Feast" & " Tom Parry -  Yellow T Shirt" but they were all so wonderful we thought we would quit while we were ahead.)  Can you suggest a theme we could adapt for this year's festival?


How about picking some shows that look like they are impossible to predict. They are my favourite. Drawing some out of a hat?


Finally, how do you plan to survive that month of mayhem?


I think the answer is buying a 2nd hand dryer (3 shows worth of washing every day!), eating extra broccolli and dark chocolate, stovetop espresso, giving each other massages, pre-preparing bundles of spice and Cocoa Bombs for In the Wine and bags of groceries for Back of the Bus as soon as we arrive in Edinburgh, going out dancing and fitting in some sleep! I think our cast rotation system will keep the shows fresh too but some sleep will help too.



Assembly George Square Gardens at  16.30 or 18.15 on August 5-9, 11-14, 16-21, 23-28



Assembly Checkpoint at 13.10 on August 4-9, 11-14, 16-21, 23-29




Sacha Copland

Here at DARKCHAT we are slightly obsessed by show on buses. My 3rd show ever ( back in 1986) was "Geographical Duvet" a stunning performance show all over Edinburgh.


In 2008 10 of us opened our festival with Comedy Bus and in 2014 we were enchanted by Java Dance's "Back Of The Bus". To find out how artistic director Sacha Copland sent us in search of some wine read on.