Emma Knights talks about THE PIANO MEN at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Emma Knights
Name of Edinburgh show: The Piano Men
Venue: Space@JurysInn #260
Performance time: 3.05pm 20th, 21st, 23rd, 24th & 25th of August
Show length: 50 mins
Ticket price: 12 pounds

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I have been performing on the piano since I was four. My dad is a piano teacher so we had to learn as children but I loved it! I studied classical music at university and then decided I wanted to be a rock god so also completed a diploma in contemporary music. I work mostly as a collaborative pianist with choirs, soloists and on cabaret shows. I perform in bands and orchestras for musical theatre shows too.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The Piano Men is a look at why male pianists are thought of first when you think of the piano. It is full of stories, mostly mine and some from history, of what it has been like being a woman in the music industry. As a trained concert pianist, why was I never told about the amazing women pianists? If I did hear of them it was always a secondary thought, i.e. Clara Schuman’s musical ability was second to her being Robert’s wife. I share my stories and thoughts through songs of my favourite piano men. I hope it will be a thought provoking and conversation starting piece.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I have the idea of this show for many years. It is actually part of a series of shows I am writing. In Australia, a number of statistics were released earlier this year about the number of women performers involved in our top music festivals. It was quite shocking. I think we are at a turning point where at least conversations are being had. I had a collection of stories around the inequalities in the industry that I have experienced and so I thought I was a great time to make it happen. Hannah Gatsby’s Nanette was released to Netflix and one line really stuck with me – my story has value. So, I think it is less about being relevant and more about it being time to stand up and make changes for the next generation. To show others that their stories have value and that from these stories we can learn and create a better world.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
No, as this is my first proper time! I briefly stopped over last year for two days and would say have a t-shirt and a big waterproof jacket and good walking shoes!

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
In 2017 I was performing in a vintage show; Two Dames, A Piano and a Whole Lot Of Giggle Water; in the Adelaide Fringe and the show was tracking along and the gramophone bell fell off and landed on my head mid-song. I continued to play, despite it hurting quite a lot, as though it was meant to happen! The reviewers commented on it saying they were not sure if it was meant to be another thing that annoyed my character or not, either way they thought it was funny and brilliant that I continued to play!

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Tim Minchin because he is a man of such passions and I find him so very interesting. His ideas and beliefs (watch his documentaries they are brilliant) are refreshing and so relatable. He is not afraid to say what he believes. Megan Doherty, Deborah Brennan and Joanne Hartstone as they are three wonderful performers from my hometown that have bitten the bullet and put themselves so far out there. They all inspired me to create my own work.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Stretching – lots of stretching. Ugh bodies get older hey! Usually a handful of sugar in some form and a little bit of a silly dance to get out the crazy energy!

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Anya Anastasia – because I never have time to see her in Adelaide, The Hummingbird Effect, #Pianodrome Live, A Romantic’s Guide to the Apocalypse, Armour: A Herstory of the Scottish Bard, Cepacia – Love Takes His Breath Away (I am a cystic fibrosis carrier so I am very interested in this one), Dangerous Giant Animals and Puffin Island.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
My show, The Piano Men, is not a spoon-fed show. You won’t leave with all the answers or a resolution. It is a show that will leave you thinking and give you conversation topics with your friends who see the show with you or that do not see the show at all. It is honest and unassuming. A great way to spend an afternoon!


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