Stephen Davidson On Keeping His Cast Happy at Edinburgh Fringe

I’m taking Between Us to Edinburgh Fringe for the first time this year, so I wanted to hear from other seasoned improvisers about their Edinburgh experiences. I caught up with Stephen Davidson who’s directing Love And Misinformation

Rachel: Tell us about Love And Misinformation:

Stephen: It’s a spontaneous play in the style of Caryl Churchill. We break and remake our format every night. Anything is possible, but we guarantee you’ll be surprised, provoked, and moved. We’ve chosen to emulate Caryl Churchill because we’re impressed by her honesty, her flexibility, her quiet genius and her revolutionary spirit. We hope her influence will shine through our work.

Rachel: I really like Caryl Churchill, especially Fen. Why did you decide to use her work as inspiration and how do you get the audience involved?

Stephen: Our show starts by asking the audience for a suggestion of something they care strongly about, and it’s always really inspiring. Caryl Churchill’s work is always about something deeper, so we always try to make our show meaningful (as well as heartfelt and fun). She also constantly reinvents her form and approach, which feels ideal for improv. I love improv that takes time to dig into relationships, characters, social issues etc as well as having silly moments. The mix of fun and meaning means that this feels like a show that feeds the soul as well as the creative spirit!

Rachel: Honestly, it sounds a lot like Between Us! I can’t wait to see it.

Stephen: For me the thing that makes a show really special is the cast; the feeling that everybody’s excited, bubbly, nervous, and the burst of excited chatting as soon as a show finishes. 

Rachel: That’s such a good feeling. What do you particularly like about Edinburgh?

Stephen: I enjoy the craft of it. The opportunity to perform every day, often multiple times per day, feels like work in the best way. I was a classical musician before I was an improviser, so for me spending hours every day honing my skills is second nature and very satisfying.

Having a full house is a huge highlight, especially towards the end of a run because it usually means people have enjoyed it and word has spread. I really love the fringe site’s audience feedback feature, too. Knowing people liked a show is a fantastic feeling.

I also love to see shows, especially ones with friends in them! It’s like show-and-tell in school but everybody created something really cool.

Rachel: Any downsides?

Stephen: The stress of selling a show feels counter-productive to the art of it. The toughest part of Edinburgh for me is making sure everybody on my team is having a nice time and able to perform their best. Because Edinburgh is such an intense experience, I feel like a lot of us turn into the worst versions of ourselves. I think it’s important to put energy into self-care at the Fringe, if you want to have a nice time. I love to cook, so for me making a meal for the whole cast is really fun. It saves us all cash and means we have some lovely group bonding time!

Rachel: Do you have any particular goals for this year’s Edinburgh? 

Stephen: I want my cast to have a nice time. Fame and fortune and a pile of reviews would be nice too, but for me it’s an experience first and foremost. I want a happy/satisfied cast and a well-oiled show at the end!

Rachel: And how do you prepare for that well-oiled show?

Stephen: We make a circle and wink suggestively at each other.

Rachel: And where is it we can see you winking suggestively?

Stephen: Love And Misinformation is at Greenside @ Royal Terrace from the 12th to the 24th August at 18:25.

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