Kate Stephenson brings A GALLANT LIFE to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Kate Stephenson (Not Cricket Productions)
Name of Edinburgh show: A Gallant Life
Venue: theSpace on North Bridge
Performance time: 8.35pm
Show length: 50mins
Ticket price: £7.00-9.00

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I founded Not Cricket back in 2010 as a student venture to perform The Tempest on a beach in Scotland in April, which seemed like an excellent idea, but in retrospect was rather cold and wet. At the time I never imagined that it would develop into the active, collaborative and tight-knit company we have today -this will be our seventh Edinburgh Fringe and we could not be more excited.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The show is a brand-new musical about a woman called Muriel Thompson. Muriel is absolutely fascinating – she won the first Ladies’ motor race at the Brooklands circuit and then went on to drive the Pankhursts as part of the WSPU. During the First World War she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and was part of the first group of women allowed to work directly for the British Army. She drove ambulances near the Front line and, later, headed up the St Omer ambulance convoy. She won multiple medals for her bravery and was mentioned in dispatches more than once.

The production is based on her wartime diaries and other archival material and tells her story between 1908 and 1918, combining original music with songs from the period.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I first came across Muriel a few years ago when I was searching for a piece of woman’s writing from World War One to use as a monologue for a scratch night, so the idea has been kicking around for a while. The show itself has been in development since January this year, with the script and music going through a number of revisions. The start of the show is set exactly a hundred years ago and the piece ties in with the end of the First World War centenary commemorations. That said, Muriel’s story is wonderfully modern in many ways and her thoughts and actions will have a resonance with contemporary audiences.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Think about the practicalities -bring sensible shoes and a decent waterproof, remember to eat regularly and don’t stay up until 5am every day, otherwise you are never going to survive the whole month. I realise that this makes me sound like I’m really old and I think I’m okay with that.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I don’t think I’ve ever done anything really awful on stage (I mean, I’ve definitely forgotten my lines and I’m sure I’ve fallen over at least once), but as my main role is as a writer and director, I’m not on the stage as often as most of the rest of the company. At Fringe 2016, one of the company, in a show set in the mid-nineteenth century, managed to split her trousers up the back revealing her pink and frilly knickers to the entire audience.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I get really excited by big immersive shows with a strong storytelling element as love I feeling completely part of a world but also getting to see how storylines and characters develop and intersect – the work of companies such as Les Enfants Terribles and The Immersive Ensemble stand out.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A good stretch? Post show we always eat dinner together

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I haven’t had much time to take a good look at the Fringe Guide yet, but I’ll definitely be catching Kill the Beast, Rachel Parris, Austentatious and Danse Macabre.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It’s based on a true story and it highlights a largely forgotten woman, it’s also a lot of fun – there’s a song about why Australians are great, a biplane chase and some sassy dialogue.


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