Colette Redgrave talks about bringing PICASSO’S WOMEN to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Colette Redgrave
Name of Edinburgh show: Picasso’s Women
Venue: The Fruitmarket Gallery
Performance time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Show length: 1 hour 30mins
Ticket price: £13.00 & Conc. £11.00

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I first trained in Musical Theatre at London Studio Centre. When I graduated I went off on tour with a Shakespeare Company and then to Vienna. I returned to RADA in 2015 to re-train and decided shortly after to develop the Picasso’s Women project. Along the way I have directed and developed other shows including the ground-breaking European first production of Starlight Express with kids under the age of 18 and a teenage production of His Dark Materials. I continue to record voice-overs for companies such as National Geographic and the BBC.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Picasso’s Women features a series of monologues and confessionals performed by three of the most influential women in the early life of seminal 20th Century artistic genius, Picasso.

The production features Fernande, played by Judith Paris, who tells the audience about the lustful early years of her relationship with Picasso. Fernande is known to have published her memoirs in her later years to great success. The play then focuses on Olga, Picasso’s first wife who is played by Colette Redgrave. She candidly recounts the ‘departments in which Picasso lacked’ and the sadness she felt when she lost her husband to the younger and nubile Marie-Therese performed by Kirsten Moore. Their relationship is featured in the current TATE Modern Exhibition and depicts the passion in their short-lived relationship.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
The development started in 2016 after formulating the idea many years ago. I was familiar with the production when it was originally performed at The National in 2000 and felt it would work brilliantly in modern art gallery spaces as an immersive theatre event. Originally, we commenced the project just as the ‘Picasso Portraits’ Exhibition opened at the National Portrait Gallery, but we decided to develop the show further and produce it in 2018 whilst the headline EY Exhibition, ‘Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame & Tragedy’ features at the Tate. Recently National Geographic released ‘Genius: Picasso’ starring Antonia Banderas so the subject is very much in the fore front of people’s minds.

Not only that, but since the show’s conception the #metoo movement and focus on gender equality in the creative arts industries has crystallised significantly. The monologues give a voice to three incredible women who, deserve recognition for their often strained involvement in the creation of some of the world’s most memorable pieces of art. This is purely coincidental, that the production has not only touched upon very topical elements surrounding the treatment of women, but also, we are an all-female cast and creative team.

When we return to London in September, artist Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf is curating a specially designed exhibition called ‘Muse, Model or Mistress?’ to feature alongside our performances. This title comes from the conversation between Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim about the restrictive way that women were being treated within the surrealist movement – and led to her exhibition in 1943 in New York – including 31 Women Artists

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Being my first year performing, not sure I can be that forthcoming with ‘top-tips’, but my God-daughter who is studying Opera at the Royal Conservatoire, Scotland has a saying:

“Propper, preparation, prevents (piss-)poor performance”

So, I am trying to prepare for every eventuality in advance as much as possible, wo we can enjoy ourselves during the festival! I would recommend this to all performers.

Visitors…. Have a ball, see as much as you can, wear comfortable shoes!

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
So, most embarrassing, I was playing the lead in Pantomime at The Shaw Theatre, London and whilst I sang my ‘big number’, my leading man decided to come on stage behind me, sweeping the stage with a large broom! The audience all started laughing and I hadn’t a clue why!

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I am always impressed by people who ‘stick at it’, when they could have given up. Dame Judi Dench is an inspiration of course, but her later career in film is most inspiring of all. Maxine Peake never ceases to amaze me in her superb acting role choices and I simply adore Cynthia Erivo in terms of Musical Theatre, who has also worked incredibly hard for her deserved recognition.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I practice meditation, so a quick round of meditation and some physical and vocal exercises that I have used for years, usually does the job!

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
The more people we talk to, the more come out the wood work as heading up to Edinburgh with shows of their own! I will be making time to see a small piece of free work about Baroness Caroline Nairne called ‘The Scottish Songtress’, being married to a Scotsman myself it seems appropriate! I am also keen to head along to some of the free events being led by the Fringe Festival organisers on matters such as equality in theatre and Q&A sessions on touring the production to other venues UK and worldwide next year.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
1. The Fruitmarket Gallery is right next to Waverley Station – we are literally ‘on your way home’ – make our show your last stop of the day!

2. Not only do you get to see an insightful, daring, controversial and vibrant piece of theatre, but access after-hours to one of Scotland’s finest contemporary art spaces!

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