Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly

This has been a journey of collaboration and discovery, the first time I’ve been invited to pitch a concept and then bring a team together to develop that concept into an hour long Edinburgh show.

The wonderful team at Underbelly asked me to suggest a format and initially I pitched the idea of a behind-the-people look at some of our favourite West End leading ladies, asking them questions that uncovered some of their favourite memories of their lives and careers.

  • What’s your earliest memory of performing on stage?
  • What male role would you like to perform?
  • If you weren’t an actor, what other job would you do?

I love the Edinburgh Fringe set up where the boundary between audience and performer is blurred – there is often no stage door or proscenium arch and you can find yourself watching a mesmerising performance one minute and at the bar having a drink with the performer the next! This show seemed the perfect opportunity for a line up of fearless fabulous females to share their favourite songs and stories.

First onto the team was expert dramaturg and writer Helen Eastman – a very old friend (who I assisted many years ago!) and who I generally cite as being the cleverest person I know. She gave my initial list of questions a once over, making them less ‘fluffy’ and more empowered, and then we worked together with projection designer extraordinaire Mikaela Liakata who created beautiful collage animations to bring the questions to life.

We invited our performers to spend a day with us devising how the show might work, the order of the questions and brainstorming Edinburgh specific ‘business’ – everything from Instagram Boomerangs to sharing ice creams with the audience! Our musical supervisor Caroline Humphris and Musical Director Lindy Tennent-Brown started the magical process of building individual set lists for each performer as they answered our questions and finally lighting designer Anna Sboku gave it all some magic and sparkle.

Thanks to Tara Wilkinson at Underbelly for trusting us with such a beautiful (and LARGE!) venue, our stage management team Kate Jones and Antonia Petruccelli, assistant Seraphim Davey and the venue team for being so welcoming. Hopefully this one will find a life in the future, and with lots more ladies in the spotlight!

All photos taken by the wonderful Helen Maybanks and feature the creative team alongside Janie Dee, Danielle Hope, Ria Jones and Claire Sweeney.