Name: Victoria Firth
Name of Edinburgh show: How to be amazingly happy!
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Performance time: 11.35am
Show length: 60 minutes
Ticket price: Weekend £10, midweek £9, early week £8. Concessions £1 off.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I am a performer and theatre maker from Yorkshire. I’m probably a bit older than most people making their Fringe debut. My performing background is wiggly and intermittent because I’ve been better known as a programmer and producer. I am currently the Director of the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. I did however train as a young director. Then I got my Equity card in the 90’s in a long tour of a sexual health show for schools. Much later I did an MA in ensemble physical theatre. Then I started making live art. More recently I’ve been training in clowning and stand-up comedy. ’How to be amazingly happy!’ is a bit of everything I know how to do (and some new stuff).
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
‘How to be amazingly happy!’ starts to unpack some of the things people think about when they don’t know if they’ll have kids. It asks some questions about how much expectation and assumption there still is that having and looking after children is an essential part of life. It squares up to the fact that lots of things in life go wrong – even if you’re a really nice person and try your best. And then most importantly it puts a bit of fire under the idea that we can make our own happiness and give ourselves permission to be as unique and fabulous as we all really are.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I started writing it last year when I did a course about devising your own theatre with an artist called Bryony Kimmings. Then I made it quite quickly over an intensive period this spring.
For women of my generation, who are reaching my age, almost a fifth don’t have children. 3.5million people have trouble conceiving. 47,000 women are currently receiving IVF and 70% of treatment fails. Our relationship to childlessness – whether by choice, circumstance or adversity is becoming more common and complex.
Beyond these themes the show is for everyone who had dreams that didn’t work out how they thought, or who wants to have more fun, be braver or do something different.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
It’s my first time as a performer but when I’ve come up to see shows before – wear flat shoes, bring layers and always carry water and chocolate have been top tips.
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
In a student production of ‘A taste of honey’ I was playing Helen who had to chase her daughter round a sofa. Due to some mistake, I can’t remember and can’t even imagine now, one of the other actors had crawled through the back curtain and hidden behind the sofa which meant every time I had to run round I had to jump over him without laughing.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Too many to name. But I get most excited when I see people performing or speaking live with passion, soul and intellect – but in a raw and honest way. The energy of that cuts across tastes and identities and ranges from people like Patti Smith to Jeanette Winterson to Kate Tempest.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I am a bit short tongued so I always try and do a few tongue twisters to improve my enunciation. I drink water and wee in repetition until I actually have to go on.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Lots! This year I’m going to see work by Northern artists as I’m interested to see what’s being made and who is in my peer group. I’m also planning to see women doing all forms of comedy. I’d like to do more of that and I think there’s a new wave of funny women coming.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
If it speaks to you then definitely come. I’ve made it for you! And it’s a montage of styles and stories so I think there’s something for everyone. Whatever theatre you’ve been to before (or not) this will be familiar and a bit different and I hope you will enjoy the playfulness of it.
If it doesn’t sound like it’s for you then go out and enjoy the world of choice on offer.
I’m just happy whenever people are supporting live performance.