Donald Sage Mackay talks about bringing ANGRY ALAN and the ‘Men’s Rights Movement’ to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
After decades of professional theatre/film/TV work in New York, Los Angeles and throughout the U.S. I’m thrilled to make my Edinburgh Fringe debut in Angry Alan. It’s been a dream of mine to play the Fringe ever since I was an acting student.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Contrary to what audience goers might guess from the photo I am not the title character. ‘Angry Alan’ is an online presence that draws my character Roger deeper and deeper into the Men’s Rights Movement. Much comedy and pathos ensue.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
We have been developing this play for well over a year. In June of last year the Aspen Fringe Festival was focusing on a political response to Trump and commissioned Penelope Skinner. She came up with this brilliant piece of solo theatre. Immediately an artistic director from a major theatre in Delhi wanted to workshop it in October.

Everything about this show is relevant. From the male/female relationship dynamic to what’s happening in the U.S. with the Trump backlash and the recent #metoo movement… it couldn’t be more current.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
This is my first! Somebody please tell me how to survive. I’m just looking forward to sharing this piece and seeing as much theatre as I can while I’m there. I do know Edinburgh a bit from off-season visits so I’m looking forward to getting to spend an entire month exploring the city.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
After hundreds of productions I have way too many embarrassing stories. I was cited by the ‘acting police’ once during a world premiere production at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles of Chekhov’s The Wood Demon (his first draft that would later become Uncle Vanya). I was playing a boorish rogue making unwanted advances on the lead woman (played by Lorraine Toussaint of Orange is the New Black), wearing big boots and sporting a huge foot-long fake bushy beard. Near the end of this scene in which I get rejected the glue melted under the lights and the beard wafted slowly like a feather to the stage floor. The audience was tittering, of course, so the only thing I could think to do was to play the reality. So I picked up my beard and shook it at Lorraine repeatedly, improvising as best I could as I made my unceremonious exit accompanied by waves of laughter and rousing exit applause (out of pity, no doubt). I was later handed a very funny ‘citation’ invented by the senior actor of the company for various acting violations. I kept that for my scrapbook.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Great writers. They create entire worlds out of thin air. Worlds that I get to channel and inhabit. I started out doing the classics and now primarily do new work. It’s thrilling to be a part of early development.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Other than a vocal warmup I always recite an E. E. Cummings poem about Gratitude entitled ‘I thank you God for most this amazing day…’ It reminds me of the sacredness and ephemeral nature of what we do in the theatre.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
There are so many and I still have to comb through the offerings but… of course, Penelope Skinner’s other play, Meek, going on at the Traverse. I’d also like to check out The Underground Railroad Game which I missed in New York.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
Playwright Penelope Skinner. You’re guaranteed great narrative, searing wit, complex psychology and depth.

Angry Alan
Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly), 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JX
Thursday 2nd – Sunday 26th August 2018 (not 13th), 15:20

Twitter: @chescmood, @followthecow, #AngryAlan


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