Edinburgh Fringe Special: Julia Taudevin
On Move, the outdoor debut production from Disaster Plan.
…and welcome to another Edinburgh Fringe Special issue of The Crush Bar. Throughout August, instead of one big interview every two weeks, I am sending out a short Q&A every few days - and each one is going to be with someone connected to an Edinburgh Fringe show I think is worth shouting about!
This one is with Julia Taudevin - actor, writer, director, and one half of new Scottish theatre company Disaster Plan, whose outdoor show Move ran on Silverknowes Beach over the first few days of this year’s fringe festival, and is available to watch online through the Traverse Theatre’s website now. Here is my four-star review for The Stage.
There is more about the show - and the company behind it - below. Before that, though, if you are reading this newsletter and you haven’t subscribed yet, then you can do so right here. Then you will get it sent straight to your inbox as soon as I press publish. Lucky you.
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Enough from me. See you at the bottom.
Q&A: Julia Taudevin
Julia Taudevin is a Scottish-Australian actor, writer, and director based in Glasgow. Together with her husband - the playwright Kieran Hurley - she has set up Disaster Plan, a new company dedicated to making “accessible, exciting, cross-artform theatre for a diverse range of audiences across Scotland and beyond.”
Disaster Plan’s debut show, Move, was originally supposed to be part of the Made In Scotland Showcase at the 2020 Edinburgh Fringe. That didn’t happen, for obvious reasons, so it premiered earlier this August instead, in association with the Traverse Theatre and Slung Low.
It is an outdoor performance piece, inspired by ancient Gaelic keening rituals, that weaves together song and storytelling, and explores themes of motherhood and migration. Taudevin wrote, directed and stars in it alongside Nerea Bello, Helen Katamba, Mairi Morrison, and Beldina Odenyo.
The original al-fresco staging on Edinburgh’s Silverknowes Beach was truly stunning - the darkening sky, the endless expanse of sand, the gentle wash of the Firth of Forth, and the winking lights of the Queensferry Crossing all combined to create an incredible atmosphere that Taudevin’s imaginative direction augmented. That in-person run is over but the show was filmed, and that film is now available to watch online via the Traverse Theatre website.
Fergus Morgan: Why did you make a new company in Disaster Plan? And what do you want to do with it?
Julia Taudevin: Disaster Plan was set up to formalise the 10-plus-year-long collaboration between myself and Kieran Hurley. It is our commitment to continuing to make radical cross-artform work in an industry where those qualities don't always feel prioritised.
FM: How did Move come about? And how did it come to be staged on Silverknowes Beach?
JT: Move came about initially after I used a Playwrights Studio Scotland research grant to gather songs of migration and loss in languages both indigenous and migrant to Scotland. With those songs came folklore and personal testimony and a story-song-cycle emerged which eventually became the multi-voice play with songs that is Move.
We originally made it as an intimate indoor performance which Disaster Plan co-produced with Lewis-based production company sruth-mara under the title Move-Gluasad. We tested that show out on my motherland, the Isle of Lewis, for a handful of audiences and at Celtic Connections in January 2020 and on the strength of that first production we were awarded a place on the Made In Scotland programme.
That programme of course did not go ahead last year and so when everyone was considering what was going to happen with Made In Scotland 2021, I suggested we transfer the show to the beach and everyone became extremely excited.
The point of Move is to come together, to connect with each other and our humanity, and consider our place within the expanse of time and the planet and it felt vital to do that after the year that we've had, but it felt even more important to do it in a way that felt safe for everyone.
FM: What were the challenges of performing outside? What were the benefits?
JT: If I could make shows on the beach with Slung Low for the rest of my life then I would be a happy person, which is to say the benefits far outweighed the challenges. It was a wholly satisfying experience on a personal, artistic and professional level and turning up every day to work under the sky to the sound of the sea was joyous.
With our co-producers Slung Low and my cast, I was blessed to work with a team of joyous, super talented people with continual can-do attitudes. We all agreed that the second our feet got wet on the sand we would all feel we had arrived. It was a visceral, life-affirming experience.
Having said that, we had considerable restrictions to work within, even before we brought coronavirus restrictions into play. Each day we had between 2.5 and 4.25 hours between high tides. The wind would affect the distance the radio waves would reach for the mics and headsets. For the performances we were blessed with easy weather (it only rained for a short time on one of the performances) but both days we filmed the rain was torrential and we had to cancel one of those days which had a massive knock-on effect on the digital production.
However we met all those challenges with that joyous can-do attitude and consequently everyone had (mostly) a great time. The digital production goes live on the August 24th, and is a cinematic realisation of the story, while also capturing the extraordinary live experience of the in-person show.
See you later…
I will be back with one last Edinburgh Fringe special issue of The Crush Bar in a few days time. My last set of reviews for The Stage is here - I really loved the promenade audio plays Eavesdropping and Duty/Tour. The latter has finished, but the former is well worth catching if you get the chance!
That’s it from me for now, though. If you could give this newsletter a share online, or forward it to a friend, or something, then that’d be brill. See you soon.