Name: Sarah Johnson
Name of Edinburgh show: The Forecast
Venue: Zoo Aviary
Performance time: 6pm
Show length: 75mins
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I grew up in Shropshire taking dance classes in a cow shed in the hills and after studying English at University, started my career in Integrated and Young People’s theatre. Ben Samuels (Limbik’s AD and Director of The Forecast) and I both trained at LISPA, which follows the Lecoq pedagogy and develops the skills to create your own theatre. We started Limbik 10 years ago and this is our 4th show.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It is about four very different women from the four corners of the globe who find themselves hanging in a garden attached by a thin wire through their brains. They are fleeing war, environmental destruction, poverty. Their job is to be a kind of human garden ornament for a suburban family of the not-too-distant future. There are different Settings that the family can choose from, transmitted to the women through the wire running through their brains: they can sing for you, recite your shopping list, put you through a fitness routine, and, of course, tell you the forecast.
Each woman carries her own story about how life in the not-too-distant future drove her to this place, to be tied, literally, to total strangers, and hung above the rhododendron. It is a sort of odd, four-way couple, with the women slowly realising who they are stuck with. Unable to escape from each other, they bicker and banter, and reconsider what freedom really means to them.
The show’s set is comprised of giant sculptural dresses which make it look like the girls are suspended in the air. They are mounted on wheels, move around the space, light up, and reveal shadows in the skirts which suggest the stories of the women’s lives.
The show is inspired by George Saunders’ short story “The Semplica Girl Diaries.” The story is written from the perspective of a father, who wins the lottery and decides to spend the winnings on acquiring a set of “Semplica Girls,” so he can keep up with his more well-off neighbours. We decided to tell the story of the women.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
We have been working on the show for a couple of years and it premiered at the Brighton Fringe last year. It emerged from us wondering what life would be like in 40 years’ time. This show asks some prescient questions about where we are heading in terms of consumerism, technology and how we treat the people in the greatest need. It looks at the blurry boundary between employment and slavery, and examines what freedom is when you have very few choices.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I find walking up Arthur’s Seat very helpful!
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I was once in a dance piece about a prisoner on death row. I had to shave my head for it and I hadn’t mentioned this to my family. We were doing a show near to home and so my Mum came along with my Grandma. The piece was quite serious and intense and started in silence with me on stage and the sound of a cell door being shut. Total silence. Then an extremely loud voice from the audience could be heard: ‘Ann, Ann is that Our Sair? What HAS she done to her hair? She looks like a man!!’
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Complicité for their ability to find great stories and playful use of technology. Anne-Marie Duff for her beautiful, enthralling acting skills. Nassim Soleimanpour, who can effortlessly blend the personal with the political.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I like to stretch, sing and do something that makes me laugh.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I am looking to seeing No Kids by Theatre Ad Infinitum, the Finnish mask piece The Sauna, Status by Chris Thorpe, Rachel Chavkin, China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz, and the Obie-award-winning Underground Railroad Game.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It is a really exciting piece of work; fascinating story, conversation provoking themes, strong acting, lovely music and harmony singing. You will laugh and hopefully be moved.