In part two of our Edinburgh Fringe special, in which a handful of our authors involved in some way in this year’s Festival Fringe frenzy tell us what it all means to them, we hear from ‘rising star in Scottish theatre’ (Scotsman) Lynda Radley, whose latest play Futureproof premieres at the Traverse Theatre this week.
I started coming to the festival as a student. When I was nineteen I saved up the pennies I had made from my summer job in Cork and volunteered at The Quaker Meeting House Theatre. The venue was run as a charity and they gave me bed and board in exchange for four hours of front-of-house duties a day. It was a wonderful system, though I think the elderly couple who put me up might have been shocked by the late hours I kept.
The following year I returned as a performer with a group from my drama society. We had devised a play named after a Tom Waits’ song and it featured a whole section lit by torches; very cutting edge. I had a monologue entitled ‘Attack of the Five Foot Woman’. There were about eight of us in the cast and often less than that in the audience. Some foolish person allowed us to rent their beautiful New Town apartment, and between the cast, crew and various hangers-on there were as many as twenty of us sleeping in a three-bedroomed space. Needless to say, I don’t think we left it as we found it. I saw as much work as possible. I remember an epic day of seeing seven shows with a friend. We started with Shakespeare for Breakfast and criss-crossed the city till one in the morning. Every year I learned more; both about myself and about theatre. I associate the festival with growing up. I can vividly recall, during those years, seeing a one-woman show at the Traverse called The Gimmick and the profound effect it had on me. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to write and perform for that stage.
By 2007 I had moved to Scotland, and spent two wonderful weeks at the festival performing my play The Art of Swimming in Traverse Two. I tried not to think about where I was and what I was doing – for fear of jinxing it – but I enjoyed every second of performing that year. A festival audience is something special; people who care about theatre, who want to know what you have to say, who are excited by the possibilities of performance and willing to engage with whatever you might throw at them. Speaking to them, and with them, every day was a pleasure. Again, I learned a great deal.
And here I am now, three years later, about to have my first main-stage production premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe; in a co-production between Dundee Rep Ensemble and the Traverse itself. Futureproof, and its peculiar cast of side-show characters, has been with me for some time and as I write this I am in the process of handing everything over to the wonderful cast and production team. The festival has taught me the myriad possibilities of what theatre can be, and that it is at core a collaborative art form. I can’t wait for opening morning (ten o’clock? on a Sunday?) when I can sit among the audience and see what unfolds.
Lynda Radley’s new play, Futureproof, will premiere at the Traverse Theatre, 6–29 August, part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, click here to book tickets or call 0131 228 1404. NHB proudly publish the playscript alongside this production – to order your copy with free UK P&P click here and add ‘Blog Offer’ in the comments field at checkout (to ensure your discount is applied when the order is processed).