Sarah Ward talks about bringing mental health issues, identity and sex to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Sarah Ward
Name of Edinburgh show: Yana Alana’s Between The Cracks
Venue: Assembly Checkpoint
Performance time: 8pm
Show length: 1 hr
Ticket price: 10 Pounds

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I am a cabaret artist, actor and writer. Creator of cabaret character Yana Alana and Queen Kong, my passion is in the creation of subversive, political work that challenges gender stereotypes and the status quo through my larger than life stage creations.

Outside of my own work I am an actor, I was also the MC for Circus OZ over two years and am a part of the La Soiree family, Finucane and Smith, Retro-Futuristmas, Yummy and many other theatre companies and variety shows. All ensembles and works have an emphasis on pushing back at mainstream culture, celebrating difference, asking hard hitting questions . I was also a co-creator of cult hip-hop cabaret act, Sista She, which was popular in the early 2000’s for creating feminist, queer, hip-hop, theatre cabaret. We were here over ten years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
At it’s core, Between The Cracks is about how your differences and imperfections make you who you are. Every person is entirely unique and imperfect, this is what connects us. The last song in the show is our only cover ‘Anthem’ By Leonard Cohen and the message ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’. Yana Alana is exposed, she’s naked covered only in blue paint and she sngs and talks about mental health issues, identity and sex. There will be tantrums, spoken word, songs, dance, improvisation, hilarity, anarchy and beauty. It’s art!

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
This show premiered in 2013, there were many opportunities for me to bring it to Europe but I got sick and had to postpone. It’s even more relevant then as it is now. The world has become even crazier and more binary. This show is about survival, mental health, gender equality, gender identity, being queer and self love. All presented through a neo-punk, narcissist, naked, blue, cabaret clown.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
You don’t have to see all the shows, drink all the drinks, take all the drugs, have all the laughs, do all the things. Pace yourself, sleep, remember to see nature as well as shows. Support your mates, say no to competition, we’re all in it together.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Pissing myself laughing in the lion outfit during The Wizard Of Oz.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
My biggest inspirations are those people who keep the balance, my friends like Hannah Gatsby, Ursula Martinez, Anni Davey, Adrienne Truscott etc. These artists know how to keep their art, activism and selves alive by knowing the importance of friends ship, family, community, animal time, quite time, reading, walking, laughing, good food and being silly.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Tea, stretching, breathing, vocal warm-ups and walking. Thinking about everyday things, like how the sun comes up and down and how the birds go about their everyday rituals and the trees grow and the rivers run. Making sure I don’t loose perspective by remembering I’m just another animal on the planet doing my thing.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
To be honest I’m so busy in the lead up to the Fringe with other projects and the idea of flicking through that guide overwhelms me. I look forward to sussing it out when I’m on the ground. I’ll be going to radical theatre and performance art. Shows that play with form and video/visual art!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
If you are the kind of person that loves art, you like to be challenged as much as entertained, you love immersive, intimate, hilarious in your face cabaret, you should come to Yana Alana’s Between The Cracks. If you don’t want to think at all and want status quo, mainstream or conservative entertainment, then you should come too because your mind will be blown.

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