Monday, 6 July 2015

Fable - A Road To A Pier

This is a picture of Veronica and Jim. 
There is Serena and Dan in the background.
Coming out of Jim's head are - I think - Phil's hands. 
Ed will be somewhere in there too and I (Alex) am probably just off to the right. 
There's Gavin who'll be just off the photo playing the piano, and a chap called Tom playing the bass. We're all singing Elbow's 'One Day Like This'.
The photo has a good story - ask one of us about it if you see us. 
This is our image for Fable. It's a real photo - as in, we didn't set it up for the show. It's one of the happiest moments. 

Fable is our new show. We're making it at the moment. And it's about this other photo - the one of the pier. 
This pier is in a village called Ardfern on the far west coast of Scotland. When you turn on to the road to Ardfern, if you kept driving, you'd drive straight off this pier and in to the sea. 

Fable is about a lot of things. And it's just that - it's a fable, a story, a mix of the real and the unreal; of the true and the embellished and the straight-up imagined. But it exists because of some very special circumstances. Here's why -

I went to school with Jim Harbourne. We played in a lot of bands together when we were kids.
Back in the early Belt Up Theatre days, we met The River People which was co-run by Edward Wren.
We asked Edward Wren and Jim Harbourne to come and make Beulah with us - they'd never met before. They're now the best of chums.
Because we loved making Beulah so much, Ed, Jim and I made our next show together too - BABYLON - along with Serena and Conrad. I knew Serena from University and all theatre work since, I knew Conrad from his band Holy Moly & The Crackers. 
And one of my best friends Joe Hufton was directing it. 
BABYLON was booked to tour the Highlands and Islands of Scotland last November. 
Earlier that year, Serena had joined me at York Theatre Royal to do some work. Damian, the Artistic Director at YTR auditioned her for The Railway Children in King's Cross. She got the part. Amazing.
Rehearsals clashed with the BABYLON tour. Hardly any of the script is written down, none of the music is. Impossible to find a new Serena. 
So we decide to tour Beulah instead. 

So, one wet and windy November night Conrad, Jim, Ed and I roll in to Ardfern. And in to their wonderful, warm, colourful, charming, friendly, glowing community just before the end of the pier. 

And when we go to the pub afterwards, to sample the whisky, we meet a man - who is either propping up the bar or the bar is propping up him - called Blair. Blair is a tree surgeon and a poet. Blair drinks with us until the early hours. Blair wants to move to the Arctic.

Fable is about Blair. And Fable is about the end of that pier. 

We're currently rehearsing in our HQ - a converted watermill in North Yorkshire - before head off to premier the show in a forest at Latitude Festival

We then head up to Ardfern for a week and Cromarty for a week to rehearse the show between the wonderful landscape and wonderful people of the Highlands.  

And finally we land here - at the brilliant Summerhall for the Edinburgh Festival. 

We haven't made a new show for the Fringe since Beulah, and it's a fun story as to how Beulah has led us all here. 

That photo at the top - it's full of brilliant people. And there are few better feelings in the world that making new work with people you well and truly love the socks off. 

It's sure funny where the old roads and the new winds take us.


PS - The picture of cows is on our way back from the pier. Ed very confidently shoo'ed them out the way whilst wearing a bowler hat and a waistcoat.

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