James Haddrell the artistic and executive director of Greenwich Theatre weekly column
This year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe celebrates its 70th astonishing year, and with its new programme just announced it once again confirms its position as the biggest arts festival in the world. At Greenwich Theatre we have a strong presence at the festival, supporting many young and emerging companies in performing there, and last year we partnered with the Olivier Award winning company Les Enfants Terribles to take that support a step further, adding to their existing Edinburgh Award by launching a Greenwich Partnership Award. At the awards evening, ten shortlisted companies were given the opportunity to perform just ten minutes of the show they would like to take to the festival and two were chosen as winners – both winning a £1,000 prize, a guaranteed venue for their show (thanks to a partnership with The Pleasance) and a package of mentoring and support.
Having repeated the model this year and announced the 2017 winners back in February, the recipients of the Greenwich Partnership prize – Boondog Theatre – have been working on their Edinburgh show since then. I caught up with Boondog’s Lucy Roslyn to talk more about the show, for which she is both writer and performer.
“Our play, called GOODY, is set in 1934 in Dustbowl America. Backstage at the circus we discover the complex and heartfelt relationship between one man and his performing chimpanzee. Marooned in a land she does not comprehend, far from a life she barely remembers, Goody finds comfort with her oldest and only friend, her trainer Frances.”
For Lucy and the company this won’t be an Edinburgh debut, but it is still a major opportunity for them. “It’s an incredible whirlwind of a festival to be a part of” she said. “We had a great experience a few years ago with my debut play The State Vs John Hayes. It can be a great place to launch a project and you never know what wonderful creative allies you will make and what inspiration you will come away with.”
For the production, in order both to write the script and perform as the chimpanzee, Lucy has carried out hours and hours of observation and research. “My research into performing chimps included case histories both from the period and the present day” she explained. “One of the places it has taken us is Monkey World in Dorset. I cannot praise it enough. People there have got to know and understand all the animals who have been rescued over the years and how their experiences have shaped them. Therefore we have decided that any profits from this show will be used to adopt the chimpanzees of Monkey World, as many times over as we can.”
As we do every year, we are committed to giving our local audiences the chance to see the shows that we are excited about from this year’s festival. In the case of GOODY, we are hosting an exclusive preview performance on Saturday 8 July before the company heads up to Edinburgh. I am confident that this really will be one of the most talked about shows of the festival – and I can’t wait to hear what Greenwich audiences have to say about it after the preview performance in July.
James Haddrell is the artistic and executive director of Greenwich Theatre