Huw Smallwood talks about ‘A Romantics Guide to the Apocalypse’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Name: Huw Smallwood (writer/ director)
Name of Edinburgh show: A Romantics Guide to the Apocalypse: A New Musical
Venue: theSpace on North Bridge
Performance time: 13-18th August, 14:05
Show length: 50 minutes
Ticket price: £8.50 (£6.50 concession)
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
Originally from York, I recently graduated from Reading Uni with a degree in Film and Theatre. I’ve been involved in the Drama Society since I joined and have directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Crucible and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I’ve also had the joy of acting at the Edinburgh Fringe the last couple of years.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Our show is a musical about a young man called Jack who simultaneously finds out the world is going to end and has his very first date at a local restaurant. However, when he gets stood up and leaves the restaurant, a waitress called Zoe finds a letter he received explain the destruction of the Earth she runs after him. This sets them on a journey through riots, cults and Downing Street that questions if you can fall in love in the last week of our planet.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I started writing around half a year ago, however most of the ideas and songs have come out of workshopping and rehearsing this summer. While it’s easy to look at 2018 and feel rather glum, I was determined to create a positive and optimistic piece about love and friendship in the face of impending doom. As the title suggests, it’s a show about how to face an end, whatever that may be, without sarcasm or cynicism but instead with romance and hope.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
My top tip is to expect to be tired and embrace it. See as much as you can everyday and try and see things you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I played a police officer in a morph suit in a play in my first year. Around ten minutes in, under the heat of the theatre lights, I fainted face first onto the floor. I can’t say waking up, unaware where I was and why a hundred people where looking at me and why there was a black mesh on my face was funny at the time, maybe it is now.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Although obvious choice if you’re writing a funny and hopeful musical, both Tim Minchin and the work of Kneehigh are hugely important to me. In particular Groundhog Day and the Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (which played at the Traverse last fringe) are not only wonderful to watch and listen to, but confront loss and love in imaginative and innovative ways which, most importantly, make you smile.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Our set is two large suitcases which are used constantly, so before each run we stroke them and tell them ‘you are valid members of the cast’. We then go and stroke the often neglected back corner seats of our thrust stage and tell them ‘you are important’.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
While I am of course most looking forward to the societies other show Alfred Hitchcock Writers Room, I am also looking forward to seeing new work by Dante or Die, David Ireland and Katie Mitchell. Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is an absolute must for me.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
If people spent an hour of their afternoon to come and hear our songs, watch to our story and hopefully have a laugh and a cry along the way, we’d be absolutely thrilled.