DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Why have you returned after a two year absence?


Simon: We took a break from the Fringe last year because we had a couple of tours booked and some international work that took up our time. At first we were glad to not be taken over by planning the Fringe but then we started to miss it more and more… so we’re back!!



DARKCHATTER Phil's favourite film is " Jurassic Park". So, as you can imagine he is very excited about this show. Without giving too much away what can we expect?


Maria: Expect the unexpected! Our show is a fusion of our favourite Spielberg cinematic moments and our own family narrative. It is very physical and character driven, an hour of non-stop energy! We like to exist on that knife edge between comedy and tragedy, making people laugh while also telling meaningful stories with a lot of heart. Definitely expect dinosaurs, action, music, and even the odd dance number! I think it is great piece for hardcore JP fans like Phil, but also works for anyone who wants to have a great time at the theatre!


Simon: We tried getting real raptors. Didn’t pan out.



Why choose "Jurassic Park"?


Simon: We wanted to tackle something big and completely ‘unstageable’. The way we work is by taking big themes and ideas and bringing it all right down to an everyday level. That way people can experience them through a more imaginative lens. Our theatre uses the imaginations of our viewers to help tell the stories, it doesn’t give it to you on a plate.


Maria: Jurassic Park has such a universal appeal, it is a very iconic family film from the 90s when we were all growing up, so had made a big impression on all of us. It was a hugely tempting challenge, giving us a chance to be very creative in the way that we stage our own low-tech, homemade version. Capturing the essence of cinema was something we all trained in at Jacques Lecoq Theatre School and the simplicity and ingenuity required is beautiful to work on! The themes of the story, the epic dinosaurs and the nostalgia the film evokes made it an exciting choice for us.



What are your memories from the first time you saw the film?


Maria: I was very little when the film came out, I think I was 5 at the time. I remember going to the cinema to see it and getting nightmares afterwards! I was sure there was a dinosaur hiding in my wardrobe. Those dinosaur visuals were pretty scary when it came out, I don’t think anyone had seen anything like it. The CGI is still impressive today! I saw the film many times growing up because it was on TV a lot so I have many memories of it- it is one of those films our generation grew up with.


Simon: I grew up in Switzerland so I didn’t see the film in English until I was in my twenties. Jeff Goldblum’s voice is better in the original I must say.



Is it a difficult show to stage?


Simon: The main challenge we felt was delivering on expectations. Our generation LOVE this film and we felt a lot of pressure to do it justice. However, this is not a straight re-telling so we allowed ourselves some wiggle room on which moments to focus on. Having said that, we did spend many hours wracking our brains on the many possibilities of how to stage dinosaurs!


Maria: Yes it was difficult. But that is probably why it has been so rewarding for us. The more impossible the task seemed, the more ingenious we had to be. Before rehearsals began I was terrified, but it has been such a rewarding journey.



How are rehearsals going?


Maria: Very well! It is always a pleasure to work on a show once it has already been made and discover fresh moments of magic! And we are having lots of fun adding some nice filmic references. Our shows are never finished and it is exciting to explore where we can go with ideas in the rehearsal room. That’s the beauty of making theatre!



Are you excited and or nervous about the forthcoming festival?


Simon: Bit of both! In terms of audience capacity, it’s our biggest festival yet, but we’ve had lots of great support from Assembly and our producer Hannah has been working tirelessly. We’ve already sold quite a few tickets so we’re very excited about getting up there and hearing what people have to say about the show!



I understand you have used "Kickstarter" to help fund your shows. Could you put on shows without it?


Maria: We aren’t actually doing a Kickstarter campaign for Jurassic Park, so yes we can put on shows without it!  We have done one Kickstarter campaign in 2013 where we managed to raise £7000 to bring our show to the Fringe. Kickstarter can be a great way to help fund shows, particularly for something as pricey as the Edinburgh Fringe, but there are definitely other ways. We are able to bring Jurassic Park to Edinburgh thanks to profit from our run at Vault Festival together with support in-kind from Assembly, plus some amazing donations made directly to the company. Ultimately our aim is to ensure Superbolt is a sustainable company, so we are not reliant on a single source of funding to make all our work.



Is "Crowdfunding" the way forward for smaller companies?


Simon: Crowdfunding is a great way to get support but you need to know how to attack a campaign and you can’t rely on it forever. For small companies, or companies just starting out, it’s great but you have to bear in mind that it will mainly be your friends and family who are donating. That’s not a big issue but in order to hit larger targets you need to know how to approach people who are likely to donate large amounts at a time. We had some great meetings and advice from people who fundraise for a living so my advice would be, talk to people who have experience before setting up big campaigns.  


Maria: Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms were immediately very interesting to me when I discovered them a few years ago- I really like the idea of sharing the load amongst many people so that art can happen. In some ways it is an empowering way to fund a theatre project, one that does not leave it up to a few individuals behind a desk to decide what work has value. But Kickstarter in particular seem to work best for physical products, and theatre does not fit this mould very neatly due to its very form. We are now focusing more on donations that can be made directly on our website by people who want to help Superbolt to keep making work. This means people can find all the info on our company in one place and ensures 100% of the money goes to the company.



What "perks" do you offer supporters?


Maria: In the past, we have offered theatre tickets, badges, signed posters, illustrated manuscripts and private performances. We really value our supporters, and so we keep them involved and up-to-date on the development of Superbolt- it is thanks to the support of fans and friends that we have been able to grow and keep making work internationally!  



If " Jurassic Park" isn't your favourite film, what is?


Simon: I’m a big horror fan, the rest of Superbolt don’t class Jurassic Park as horror but I do. It’s got everything a good horror needs! My favourites however are The Exorcist and John Carpenter’s The Thing.


Maria: Ahhh I find this a difficult question. To have one favourite film is impossible for me, I am the same with books!



So, what are your memories of your 2013 visit to the Fringe?  


Maria: I  remember seeing Ad Infinitum’s show Ballad of the Burning Star and being blown away. And making some amazing friends.


Simon: It felt like a step up from our previous Fringe experiences. It felt like we were a real, professional company. That’s sounds funny because we’d been a company since 2011 but that year at the Fringe felt like we had properly landed and people were starting to know who we were and what our work was like.



Why did you first come to the festival?


Simon: We all had experience with the Fringe before setting up Superbolt but the first time we decided to do the festival as a company we had already been going for a couple of years. We’d had a bit of success with our first two of shows so we became confident enough to bring them to the Fringe. We played at Zoo Venues in 2012 and had a brilliant time!


Maria: It is the largest arts festival in the world and so it seemed like the the natural thing for a new company to do! It really is an excellent platform to share work with other artists and check out what is out there. And it definitely paid off for us, as we got offered some great international touring and developed some brilliant relationships with venues.



What did you expect from the Edinburgh fringe festival?


Maria: Well we were hoping for some tour opportunities but I think we were just excited to be performing our work up there!


Simon: We knew what to expect from having taken shows up in the past, but it’s always different when it’s your company and your reputation on the line.



How did reality differ from your expectations?


Simon: We played a 50 seater venue and at first we thought that would be tough to fill but it ended up being a much more intimate and fun experience than we’d feared. I would recommend companies that are doing their first Fringe start out small. We didn’t have a reputation and so really relied on reviews and word-of-mouth to sell our work.



What were the best ( & worst ) things about that festival?


Maria: Well performing two shows on alternating evenings was a huge challenge but so much fun! One of the best things was when audience members came back a second time because they had enjoyed the first one so much. The worst thing was getting stabbed on the face by Frode live on stage during a highly physical sequence! There was so much blood! But it made for a great story...


Simon: Worst thing? Flyering.



Do you plan to see many shows this year?


Simon: Always! We wrote an article on our website of Superbolt’s Shows to See but there’s always some that you hear about during the Fringe that take everyone by surprise. They’re the ones I’ll be looking out for.  



Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival?


Maria: I am excited about seeing Gecko’s new show Institute. But like Simon, I can’t wait to discover new shows and companies up there.


Simon: I love Pajama Men so I’m very excited about their new show.



How do you plan to survive that month of mayhem?


Simon: By planning everything ahead of time! We’ve been in a great position this year in that we haven’t had to play catch up on any organising. We’ve been able to plan, set goals and anticipate any problems before they become serious. There’ll always be a bit of mayhem, but then it wouldn’t be the Fringe!


Maria: Remembering to sleep! It is a long month so we have to pace ourselves! Also by seeing some great shows. I find watching theatre can be so revitalising- it is a great way to step back from your own show and think/ laugh/ cry!





Jurassic Park is on Daily (not 17th) throughout the Fringe at 18:50 at Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)  


Superbolt Theatre

In 2013 a last-minute request for a review led DARKCHATTER Anne to see and thoroughly enjoy Superbolt Theatre's "The Uncanny Valley". This year they return with " Jurassic Park" which we can't wait to see on Saturday 8th August.


2 of Superbolt's Artistic Directors Maria Askew and Simon Maeder kindly gave us this interview:

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