Michelle Sewell brings DYSNEY DISFUNCTION to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Michelle Sewell
Name of Edinburgh show: Dysney Disfunction
Venue: Assembly Rooms, Front Room
Performance time: 15:40
Show length: 50 mins
Ticket price: £6.50 – £11

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m an Australian writer based in Norwich. I came over to England to study a Masters of Creative Writing, where I studied under the mentorship of Steve Waters. After I graduated I had to figure out what visa to switch to, and I decided to go in for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, so I now run my theatre company, HACK Theatre, which is based at the (awesome) Norwich Arts Centre. I’m their writer and company in residence and we do scratch nights together for emerging regional artists. I mostly write plays about politics, mental health and love. I’ve been shortlisted twice for the HighTide First Commissions; and I’ve completed writing programmes with PapaTango and HighTide, as well as residencies at The BFI, SOHO, SPILL, The North Wall, Arcola Theatre, and the Australian National Studio. Some of my writing credits include: Border Control, Clownfish, The Games We Played, Off Dereham Road. I used to perform but gave up seven years ago… obviously it’s come back to bite me…

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The show’s a heart-stopper. It comically explores this dysfunctional relationship between this Australian girl, Alice Marcs, whose visa is expiring and is in desperate need of her prince to come save her with a marriage visa, but the problem is he won’t twerk. At least that’s what she tells herself is the problem. The play is also dealing with the very serious matters of immigration and abuse.

As an immigrant, I’m ALWAYS being told I should be writing a story about an immigrant coming over here… and talk about Australia etc, which is a very similar experience for a lot of playwrights from different countries. So the show is digging underneath a lot of the sanitisation of the real stories people need to talk about, just like how Disney sanitised the stories from the Brother’s Grimm.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
It’s been a solid year in the making. Disney’s what we 90s kids grew up with and we believed in happily ever after, now we can’t buy a house, our travel rights and desire to explore are being threatened by a government most of us didn’t vote for, and we see our fave childhood characters like Miley Cyrus twerking – so this play is a massive shout out to my generation who believed in the fairytales and are still waiting to swipe right on our Prince Charming.

I believe that now the #metoo moment has hit, I feel a responsibility to actually explore the under-current of a lot of these fairytales and examine how we have tried to create our own love stories through facebook, instagram, twitter etc, and expose some of the more pressing and hard hitting realities that are coming out now.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I need to credit this to my (amazing) director, David. Who keeps telling me to speak from the heart and not to do this play for the industry but the people who come see the show. So that’s our plan heading up there.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I did actually fart on stage during the Women of the World Festival show of Dysney Disfunction. It was a small one so only the front row heard. But we shared a little chuckle… Better out than in…?

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I’ve got to say Lucy Kirkwood and Lucy Prebble- for their insatiable writing abilities. But also Yolanda Mercy, for her amazing heart and her passion to always inspire others. Richard Gadd- for his quirky, hilarious and abstract work. And Annie Siddons, for being incredibly humble and honest in her work.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
OK…I always listen to Taylor Swift’s ‘new romantics’. It reminds me why I’m doing the show and who I’m doing it for. And it pulls me right into the zone.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Dangerous Giant Animals- looks incredible. We shared an Edinburgh Preview Slot at Theatre 503. I love that they’re giving a voice to a sibling of a person with a disability and I think it’s going to be awesome. Luke Wright on the Free Fringe is going to be unreal- he’s another East Anglian based writer so I’m excited to hear his new stuff!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It’s going to be a real heart-wrencher, a stomach churner and it’s got so many lols throughout it. But it’s going to challenge you in fresh and interesting ways. And if that’s something you’re interested in, then you won’t find a show at the fringe that’s going to do that more than this one.

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