Leelee Stranger on Rebellion Dogs by Declan Maloney Drummond

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What is Rebellion Dogs about?

Rebellion Dogs is about addiction. When I first wrote it, I thought it was a relationship piece, but when I tackled the finished script from a director’s point of view, I realized it was actually about the effects of addiction; how it warps one’s perspective, changes one’s behavior, and clouds everything in denial. Rebellion Dogs is about two people in love and their drug dealer, whom they consider a friend. All three of them are in pain, all three have these tremendous needs and a sense of desperate loneliness, and instead of being able to help one another, they all turn to substances for solace. It’s a three person play where Heroin plays the biggest role.

What's been the process of taking such a personal story and transitioning it into theatre?

It has been absolutely amazing writing such an autobiographical piece. I think my learning curve as a playwright went way up too. Just because something happened in a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to portray it on stage. Sometimes things that actually happened can read as unbelievable on stage. You gotta know what reads, what to cut, when to kill your darlings. I originally wanted to write this play as full-on epic three act story arc, from the first meeting to the bitter end of the relationship, but trimming it down to a one act has been the best thing that has happened for the play. Everything is succinct, relevant, sharp. As for the autobiographical aspect, it is what makes the piece so personal and raw. The story and emotions I want to evoke in the audience are crystal clear. I lived them, I know them. Though the words may be drawn from imagination, the emotional experiences are pulled from memory.
How involved have you been in casting and rehearsals?
 I wrote Nila (the female lead) with my friend Tori in mind. I told her I wanted her for the part a few years ago when I began dabbling with scenes from the play. As it became clear to me as I was writing the play that I had to direct it, I think it affected my writing. Potential actors for the roles came up. I could write even more freely with a human model in mind- how would Tori say this? How would Marc (who plays the male lead) react to something like that? That was also a revelation for writing- if you write with a real flesh and bone human in mind, even if you don’t get that intended human, your character will still be richer, more alive, more real for it. So I’ve been along every step of the way, from writer, to director, to producer. By far the hardest part has been producing!
How did you get your start in theatre?

I’ve always been a performer. I did school plays when I was a kid and then fell absolutely head over heels in love with circus. I had a little mini art career in that in my late teens and early twenties. I studied at a pretty prestigious school in Sweden, and then I suddenly walked away from it all. I moved to California and buried my broken heart under a rubble of drugs and alcohol. At 25 I went back to school to see if I could get myself sorted out and find a real job I could foresee myself in for the rest of my life- something in social justice, was the vague plan. Then, out of curiosity I took an acting class. I had acted before, but never studied. That there was a technique behind this strange art that presumably anyone could do, fascinated me. It snowballed from there. Theater and acting became more and more important to me in parallel to my addiction worsening. Five years later I was living in New York with one year clean. Two years after that I’ve completed a Meisner acting program and am self-producing my own play. Life is wild.
What's next for you?

Directly after this run I’m flying to LA to attend the Reel Recovery Film festival for a short film I co-wrote and starred in last year. It will be nice to think about something else for a little bit! But I want to take Rebellion Dogs as far as she will go. I’m sure that means a whole bunch more mountings of the show in different locales. Then there’s been some talk about making it into a film- the challenge of turning a stage play into a screenplay interests me tremendously. But we’ll see. I’m full of ideas! I’m finishing a pilot up for a 30 min dramedy (this one I actually wrote for myself to act in), I have a few film and TV show ideas, and I have a short film I’ve been dying to shoot waiting to go. I’d be happy to tackle any one of those projects- whatever gets greenlighted by the circumstances of life!
Rebellion Dogs at BAX / Brooklyn Arts Exchange
October 6th and 7th, 8pm

Tickets at Rebelliondogs.org

Edinburgh Preview: Jo Rush on Stand By by Declan Maloney Drummond


What's Stand By about? 

Stand By is about the police and how we protect our communities. The play tackles the severe pressures placed on police officers and the relationships forged between them. It's a really tense 75 minute long comedy-drama, which is set in a riot van outside a domestic incident that's about to turn violent - inside the house is a man with a baby wielding a samurai sword. To make the experience more immersive, the audience members wear single-earpiece headphones and hear the never-ending stream of incoming information that police officers have to handle whilst on the job.

What's your job on the show and how did you get involved?

I'm the associate director for the show's run at the Edinburgh Fringe and our tour of Scotland that follows. Joe Douglas, the show's director, who has developed the play with writer and actor Adam McNamara invited me to be part of the team because we've worked together on a few productions now and have a great dynamic between us, but also because his wife was due to have a baby midway through the rehearsal process. As a result it's been an unusual role for me because I've needed to be ready to step up and take over as director at any moment, but it's all gone very smoothly in the end - baby arrived safely last week and the show is looking great!

What has the development and rehearsal process been like?

Adam, our writer, is a former police officer who has since become an actor so the play is all drawn from his personal experiences which makes rehearsals fascinating because everything we're talking about is so real and the level of insight you get is pretty intense. Through rehearsals I've really appreciated that Adam is an actor as well as a writer because he puts so much trust in Joe and I as directors. He listens to everyone in the room, takes stuff on board, makes changes or cuts, and the play is definitely stronger for it. It's been a really collaborative rehearsal room and a lot of fun. A huge part of policing seems to be the dark humour that cops use to make the job more bearable and that's definitely made rehearsals a really jokey environment despite the serious heart of the play. 


What are your top tips for anyone visiting Edinburgh during August?

Prepare for any weather! 

Book stuff where you can but keep some time flexible for those last minute moments when there's a free show on in the back of a pub and you think why not? 

Know that some times seeing a terrible show can be just as good for you creatively as a brilliant one - even if it's just to have a festival war story to bond over with others. 

It's great to experience the sheer madness of the Royal Mile but it's not where I go for show recommendations. Word of mouth is by far my favourite way of choosing shows to see. 

There's a few places you can bank on seeing something top quality, like the Traverse, the International Festival, and I always find Pleasance or Assembly venues have at least one rising-star theatre company that's worth catching while they're cutting their teeth. 

Cram as much as you can in, look out for ticket deals at the half price hut and things like that, but don't let yourself feel guilty that you can't see it all or missed out on that one hot ticket show - it's just the nature of the beast!

What's next for you?

With my own company Urban Fox Theatre I'm currently developing a new site specific play about fires in tall buildings with writer Dave Fargnoli and my co-director Amy Gilmartin. We've been working on this idea for a few years now but obviously recent events in London have massively affected the direction we're taking with the work but we're hoping to stage it next year. In between now and then I'm also going to have my second child so that will keep me busy!

Jo Rush is co-artistic director of new writing company Urban Fox Theatre. Alongside her own directorial portfolio, she has worked with Utter as an Assistant Director on Bloody Trams (Traverse Theatre and Utter) and with Joe Douglas on the award-winning Death of a Salesman (Dundee Rep), and the smash-hit The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. (Dundee Rep).

Stand By will preview at The Byre, St Andrews from 4 – 5 August, before making its Festival Fringe debut at Army@The Fringe in association with Summerhall, from 11 – 26 August. Part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2017, tickets for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances can be purchased here. Stand By will announce its Autumn 2017 tour thereafter.






Edinburgh Preview: Laughing Mirror on Guy Fawkes It Up by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about?

‘Guy Fawkes it Up’ is a farcical explanation of the events of the Gunpowder Plot and it’s ill fated end. It explores what ‘really’ went wrong under the Houses of Parliament in 1605 and how the King and his entourage managed to catch Guy Fawkes red handed and leave his plans hung, drawn and quartered. With 6 actors playing around 30 different characters expect a fast paced, ridiculous and explosive 50 minutes!

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

Some of the cast have performed in Edinburgh Fringe shows before, but this is the first time we will all travel together with Laughing Mirror which is something we are all very much looking forward to!

What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

Intense but incredibly rewarding! There are so many different balls to juggle so to speak. We are always busy working, tweaking and planning. But it’s been an unbelievably fun process. The actors have been given almost total creative freedom to play with the script and it’s been incredible to see the hilarious material that they have come up with. As a result it has felt like a really inclusive rehearsal process where both the actors and the directors are really happy with what we’re developing and the journey the piece has taken.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

See as much theatre as possible! Each of us have our own personal list of shows that we can’t wait to try and catch. Between that and thinking of increasingly ridiculous ways to grab your attention on the mile, we’re all looking forward to exploring Edinburgh, some of us for the very first time.



Edinburgh Preview: Nick Card on The Interview by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about?

It's a play about a corrupt businessman, Ian Marchbanks, who applies for what he believes will be his dream job.  He lies and cheats his way into the interview only to find that the position, the company and in particularly the interviewer are not as they appear.  Ian is then subjected to a hellish emotional rollercoaster ride during which his past finally catches up with him.  

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

Yes, I took my play "A Grave Reunion" there in 2012.


What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

Very challenging but then I knew it would be as there are a lot of things that need to be sorted in order to make an Edinburgh Fringe production happen.  Fortunately I have a great team around me who are really making this play come together.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

See other shows.  One of the great things about being with theSpaceUK is that you get a pass to see other theSpaceUK shows for free - I will take full advantage of that.

Edinburgh Preview: Paperback Theatre's We Need To Talk About Bobby (Off Eastenders) by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about? 

On the one hand, 'We Need to Talk About Bobby (off EastEnders)' is essentially a psychological thriller about a child actress. It follows a young girl, Annie, who is an actress for television. She gets cast in a TV show that contains quite explicit adult themes and that requires her to say and do some very adult things on camera. The play charts the effect that this has on her mental health and her emotional development.

At the same time, the play is trying to raise the issue of what we think is society’s uneasy fascination with child violence. When writing the play, George (the writer) felt that there is an uncomfortable conversation (or lack of) taking place about how child violence is depicted, be it in the news or, indeed, prime time soap operas. Over the course of writing the play, however, George also found that it reflects upon our inability to speak to, relate to and understand children - particularly teenagers - and to explain the world to them in a sensible and frank way. 

The title refers to a character in EastEnders, Bobby Beale, who killed his sister Lucy Beale at 12 years old with a hockey stick. When watching an advert for the episode, George was disturbed by how the advert was edited to make the audience, feel excited even by the prospect that Bobby, as such a young child, might kill again. 

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

A few members of the Paperback team have been before, but this is the first time we've brought a show up together as a company, which is very exciting.

What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

So far, mad! The festival hasn't even begun yet and there's already so much to do. Liasing with the venue, sorting out the publicity materials, marketing the show on social media...not to mention wrapping up rehearsals! Still, it's an incredibly fun month.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

Drink, eat every day at Mosque Kitchen, see some amazing shows and meet incredible companies, climb Arthur's Seat at 3am in the morning.