In good company, the brilliant Summerhall programme overtakes the blog I thought I was writing

This was meant to be a blog about Chicken the Molly Davies play I first started working on whilst I was General Manager at Eastern Angles (read more here) and which is now heading to Edinburgh in a Eastern Angles in association with Unity Theatre production as part of the Summerhall / Paines Plough Roundabout programme.

Only I got distracted by the quite extraordinary overall Summerhall programme which got announced this week.  Chicken is going to be sitting alongside some very fine theatre indeed – so bloody fine in fact I reckon you could spend your entire Edinburgh visit at Summerhall and not go away disappointed.  No wonder people are talking about the venue as the new Pleasance, it will have the Traverse in its sights next!

So Chicken is going into Roundabout, Paines Plough’s beautiful pop up space.  We’ll be performing along side already existing PP shows Lungs and My Teachers a Troll as well as a new show from Alexandra Wood, The Human Ear.  Chicken is part of a ‘storming line up’ (PP’s words, not mine) of visiting companies which also includes Daniel Kitson Polyphony (huge cheer), Dancing Brick and Soho show I’m not Right Here Now by Thomas Eccleshare and Sonia Jalaly’s Happy Birthday Without You (Papermash/Tricycle).  Theatre Uncut are an organisation Unity really need to get to know well, and they will be in Roundabout too, bringing immediate, fresh, political work from a stella range of playwrights.

There’s an almost complete re-run of Unity’s recent U Decide election week programme (which if you missed – where were you?) – so you can catch the breathtakingly uplifting Every Brilliant Thing (Pentabus/Paines Plough), or the raw anger of Chris Thorpe’s Confirmation.  The ever curious Daniel Bye (who fronted Unheard Party and The Evening News) is performing Going Viral whilst Jonny and the Baptists who lifted all our spirits on the Friday after the night before arrive with a new show – The End is Nigh (oh er that’s the end of the spirit lifting then…).   And U Decide producers Chinaplate are at it too with Caroline Horton’s Islands.

Sticking with the political theme Mark Thomas (who is inadvertently responsible for the U Decide show which had me collapsing in hysterics, Back Stage in Biscuitland, also back in Edinburgh but I’m not sure where) is bringing his new show Trespass. Imagining a much needed new future are Catherine Wheels The Voice Thief so to are the ever youthful Forced Entertainment with Tomorrow’s Parties. Whilst on the subject of FE I’m looking forward to catching Stan’s Café A Translation of Shadows , Reckeless Sleepers A String Section and Grid Iron’s Light Boxes who I, shamefully, haven’t seen since Decky… 

Edinburgh would not be Edinburgh without a ‘what the f**k’ moment.  For me, on first glance, that comes with Fittings childrens show Edward the Learning Pig with music by Martin Jacques, yes that Martin Jacques of the Tiger Lillies.  Here’s me wittering on about the TL Hamlet, and I have Edinburgh and St Stephens to thank for first coming across the Lillies. But Martin writing a score for a family show…if that isn’t what the f**k, I don’t know what is….

The other thing I look for in my Edinburgh jaunts is international work – and so with many happy memories of the afore mentioned St Stephens,  I’ll be heading into anything with the Aurora Nova monaca including 17 Border Crossings (USA), the Havel inspired Spitfire Co (Czech) Antiwords and who wouldn’t be tempted by live art from Russia and the always inspirational Evelyn Glennie, collaborating in the Animotion show.  There’s also several intriguing looking shows from the Theatre Royal Plymouth/Richard Jordan partnership including KunstZ A Reason to Talk, Ultima Thule Gomaar Trilogy and Tristero On Track.

Weaving in and out of ‘all that lot’ is a load of potential hidden gems and hopefully new work from companies I’ve never heard of, and its those unknowns who will really make my Edinburgh.

Forgive me if I sound excited, that’s because I am…..

P.S.  I really should tell you about the Eastern Angles / Unity Theatre show.  It’s called Chicken, it’s a new play by Molly Davies (who recently became the first female winner of the Harold Pinter Prize).  The show is being directed by Steven Atkinson (AD of Hightide, who is also directing Lampedusa –coming to Unity in September), with design by James Turner (who previously worked for EA on The Long Life and Great Good Fortune of John Clare). 

Set in a weird and dystopian future, Chicken imagines a world where people of the North and South are alienated from one another, London sits above the chaos as a sovereign state.  Molly has created a wonderfully twisted world where communities collide, families are fractured and the agricultural idyll is distorted beyond recognition. At the centre of the story is the exploration of human fear and difference, and the surprising journey a Chicken takes from processing factory to kitchen table.  You can read a bit more about the workshop process on early drafts of Chicken on my blog here.


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