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Alumni and students in Fringe satire

An amateur theatre group featuring seven alumni and six current students is bringing a wryly observed tragi-comedy to this year's Fringe Festival.

Macbeth Kills the Duchess theatre poster

'Macbeth Kills the Duchess' is being produced by the BigHead Theatre Company, a new Edinburgh-based group that owes much of its talent to its members' extra-curricular activities at the University.

The play tells the story of a young woman who, in the basement of an old English manor house, decides to dress as Shakespeare's tragic hero Macbeth. But she is also about to commit the most shocking crime in modern British history.

Alumni

The majority of the cast and crew features recently graduated Edinburgh alumni and students who have pursued theatre as a hobby.

The alumni are:

  • Emeline Beroud, English Literature
  • Ruth Brown, Spanish and History
  • Kate Brown, Cognitive Science
  • Tamsin Drysdale, History and Archeology
  • Meera Muñoz Pandaya, Classical Archeology and Ancient History
  • En Thompson, French and Spanish
  • Elissa Webb, Computer Science Conecticute College

Q&A with Ruth Brown

We spoke to producer Ruth Brown about the BigHead Theatre Company and the show:

Tell us about your play 'Macbeth Kills the Duchess'.

The play is brand new writing from director and seasoned fringe performer Charlie Ralph, who has just graduated from the Traverse Theatre writing programme. It explores the poetic nature of a troubled generation, and their hopelessness in the face of the world laid out for them. So we have our central character of 'Macbeth' finding herself stalking the Duchess of Chelsea’s dark corridors with Charlotte, a disgruntled maid, and Horatio, her best friend and budding costume-design student. Throw in Jack and Harry, two young anarchists, and their revolution flops into a flailing farce when they realise their poorly planned plot still needs a martyr.

What should audience members expect?

Basically, we're exploring the frustrations that young people feel towards their current political situation, satirising the politicisation of pop culture and the simplification of complex situations that that leads to, such as Twitter users comparing Donald Trump to Voldemort. But the audience can expect a comedic take on this, with inspiration drawn from the likes of 'Fawlty Towers' and 'Allo Allo'. 

It's set in two corridors of horizontal white light, and pushes the actors to find new ways to interact within a quite abstract space. We're really exploresing opportunities for the development of modern farce through parallel silliness.

How did so many Edinburgh alumni come to be involved in theatre and the BigHead Theatre Group?

University of Edinburgh students have an inclusive and extensive theatre network within the city that works with the other universities and wider community. So, we've had the enormous pleasure of advertising auditions within this close kint community and choosing from the best of its talent. All the university performance groups support each other, whether the company is new like ours or has been established for much longer.

How does it feel to be performing at the Fringe?

We are incredibly excited! There's been so much work to do both in rehearsals and behind the scenes, so we can't wait for people to see it. The Fringe is the best place for us to showcase new writing to a diverse and open minded audience. 

What are your personal memories of being a student at Edinburgh?

I can only speak for myself but I'm sure the experience is similar for the others. Between academia, I spent most of my time doing musical theatre with Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, or acting at the Bedlam Theatre.  I also tried my hand at producing, stage managing and radio hosting with other societies. These are my best memories, thanks to the welcoming people and the art. It's a real community, and when Bighead was starting out, it had a wealth of of experience and people to draw from.

What advice would you give a current student thinking of getting into amateur theatre?

Getting into theatre at the University is really easy. Audition for everything and you'll soon find your home. Find the various Facebook pages that are constantly updated, go to see the shows, track them down at society fairs. The community is truly welcoming and you do not have to be an actor to get involved. I went from actor to producer and I know a few people who have graduated and pursued careers in theatre lighting, stage craft and arts venue management after doing it in their spare time at the University. 

The show

More information about the show is available on the Edinburgh Fringe website:

'Macbeth Kills the Duchess' at the Fringe

Related links

Edinburgh University Theatre Company