Matt Jopling talks about bringing Oscar Wild’s fairytales to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Matt Jopling
Name of Edinburgh show: Wilde Creatures (performing on alternating days with The Canterville Ghost)
Venue: Pleasance One at the Pleasance Courtyard
Performance time: 2.50pm (on even-numbered dates)
Show length: 1 hour
Ticket price: £6.00-£11.00

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I grew up in the West Country and spent my teenage years playing guitar and singing in bands, whilst studying drama at school and later, university. I always feared there would come a time where I’d have to choose between pursuing a career in music OR acting, but so far I’ve manage to combine the two, which I’m very grateful for.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Wilde Creatures features a collection of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales, told by a travelling band of musicians. The characters use the tales to decide who deserves to have a statue of themselves built in the town square. The show features live music, puppetry and a generous helping of comedy.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
We devised ‘Wilde Creatures’ last autumn and performed it in December as part of Dominic Dromgoole’s Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville in London. It was a beautiful space for the show’s debut!

Over a century on from the time of writing, we are still able to see ourselves in Wilde’s characters and I feel the morals in his stories continue to strike a chord with audiences of all ages.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
This is actually my first ever Edinburgh Fringe – which sounds criminal! – but I have traditionally spent my summers on tour or at music festivals, so now I’m thrilled to have the opportunity. I want to embrace as much of the atmosphere as possible, whilst making sure I don’t burn out! There is so much to see, but I am told being there for a month is a marathon not a sprint.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Performing ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ – a lovely children’s show set on a farmyard – next to the drum and bass tent at Glastonbury in 2015 was an experience that the cast couldn’t help but laugh at!

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I love theatre that transports me into a different world and performers who are great storytellers. Sally Cookson’s adaption of ‘La Strada’ recently ticked those boxes for me.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Hmm… I tend to get a bit fidgety before a show and can’t seem to sit still. During a long summer run in London, cast members developed a habit of improvising raps in the wings just before each show started. It sounds ridiculous but was in fact a good way to kick brains into gear, stick smiles on faces and really engage us as an ensemble.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Having never been before, I’m just keen to see a real variety of things and soak up the atmosphere. I will be aiming to see some live music, comedy and hopefully some more of the family theatre on offer! I’ve just picked up my fringe brochure, so look forward to having a browse and booking some tickets.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
Because it’s an hour of engaging storytelling, crammed full with theatrical delights for anyone aged 5-105!

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