Kate Valentine talks about bringing FAST to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Name: Kate Valentine
Name of Edinburgh show: Fast
Venue: theSpace Triplex Studio & theSpace Niddry Street Upper Theatre
Performance time: 13-18th August 20.35 & 20th-25th August 20.20
Show length: 50 minutes
Ticket price: £9/£7
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I am a director working in theatre and radio but I started off as a child actor and transferred into directing when I realised on stage that I kept wanting the other actors to stand in a particular place to hit the their light. I studied drama at Hull University and went on to work in fringe theatre in London, at the Royal Court and National Theatres and as an assistant and then associate director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough with Alan Ayckbourn, who was the best person to learn about directing from.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Fast is by Kate Barton and is being produced by our company Digital Drama (www.digitaldrama.org): The play is set in Washington State, 1910. ‘Doctor’ Linda Hazzard opens her sanatorium to the public but the public do not always survive… The play is a new dark psychological drama based on true events. Complex, beguiling and utterly driven in the male world of medicine, Hazzard advocated a fasting cure that gripped the press and divided a nation.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I have been working with the writer Kate Barton on drafts of the script since November. She developed the play as part of her MA in Creative Writing at Cambridge and as we had worked together before, she asked me to read it. I instantly recognised how good it was and we decided to produce the play for the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe. The play is relevant to audiences in 2018 as it chimes with the current spotlight on ‘clean eating’ lifestyle choices. Fast questions our obsession with the latest diets and celebrity endorsement and asks how far would you go to find the perfect cure. In the bar after our previews at the Brighton Fringe, many of the audience members wanted to debate the role of alternative medicine in our lives and the depiction of a female practitioner striving to have her methods endorsed in a world when medicine was entirely run by men.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I have both worked at and be a visitor to the Fringe for 20 years and have three tips which I have would share:
1. Each day seems three days long, so pace yourself and don’t start drinking at lunchtime
2. Take time out of your manic schedule to walk up Arthur’s Seat and get a fantastic bird’s eye view of the city and the hills beyond
3. Wear your most comfortable shoes…you will need to run between venues
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Working at the Pleasance for the Fringe one year on my birthday, I was running a venue when we got word the health and safety officers were coming around. I needed to change a plug very quickly between shows, so I knelt on the stage and used a stanley knife to cut the wiring. After I got up and started to accuse my fellow workers of dropping red paint all over the floor…until I realised that it was my blood and the adrenaline pumping through me meant I had not felt the big gash in my knee. I still have a scar today…not quite as cool as a shark bite but a reminder of my Fringe birthday all those years ago.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Any company who can combine high tech with great story-telling goes into my inspiration book at the moment. Sometimes the tech takes over and the actors are fighting to get focus or the story is overwhelmed. But get it right, and an audience can be transported and the live performance becomes a shared treat of greater depth.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
As I am not on stage, by the time it gets to the show, my job is nearly done. Pre-rehearsal nerves are what get me but as soon as you start working with your cast and crew, it’s a great feeling knowing that you are going to magic up a compelling and engaging experience for the audience.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I absolutely loved Nina Conti last year – she made me cry with laughter, so hopefully I will be able to get a ticket to see her. The Traverse is always my go to venue for quality new writing, so I will be booking up shows on there.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
We will be telling an amazing true story, with brilliant acting, projection and sound, enthralling an audience and leaving them stuck to their seats at the end. The reviews for Fast at the Brighton Fringe said it was ‘unmissable – this psychological thriller plays with your mind and emotions’ and ‘This was just brilliant – I couldn’t recommend it more!’ – so who am I to question their judgement?!