ED2013 Interviews ED2013 Theatre ED2013 Week2 Edition

Amy Gilmartin: Fearing at the Fringe

By | Published on Tuesday 13 August 2013


The Urban Fox Theatre Company explore fears – both common and uncommon – in their new work ‘Globophobia’ at Sweet Grassmarket this Fringe. It’s a collaboration between director Amy Gilmartin and playwrights Lindsay Miller and Dave Fargnoli, the latter a ThreeWeeks contributor, though we made sure our reviewer didn’t know that fact when she first saw the piece. Already on our list of ones-to-watch at the Fringe this year, a top marks review prompted us to catch a little time with Gilmartin to find out more about the project and her Fringe experiences. And fears.

CC: Tell us about the Urban Fox Theatre Company, how did the group come together?
AG: Urban Fox started with the idea for ‘Globophobia’. I had a starting point that I used to start conversations with various playwrights, and it led me to Dave Fargnoli and Lindsay Miller. Together we began script sessions and workshops with actors, before we cast the production in February. I have worked with some of the cast before, but some are completely new to us. Everyone was excited to work on the project because of the writing and the challenge of presenting the work at the Fringe.

CC: ‘Globophobia’ deals with fears and anxieties, why did you set out to create a piece exploring this topic?
AG: I have always been fascinated by fear; that something instinctual that we don’t really understand. Some people know exactly when and where a fear or phobia began, but most people don’t. For most it’s a simple ‘feeling’, something they can’t really explain. With this project, we began with the idea of fear, and then the work became about twenty-something anxiety. Our company’s ages range from twenty-one to twenty-nine and I encouraged the writers and actors to start with the personal.

CC: The show’s blurb talks about both ‘common’ and ‘uncommon’ fears – what kind of common and uncommon fears are touched on?
AG: Characters in the play deal with multiple fears, one is scared of choking, another is afraid of vomiting, another controls his violent outbursts by shaving. A fear of beards is pretty uncommon, it’s something many would categorise as irrational, ie not a sensible fear. Though a more common fear is probably spiders, or heights, and when you really think about it, that’s not really any more rational than fearing the popping of a balloon.

CC: This is a collaborative piece with two writers, how was it put together?
AG: Dave and Lindsay had not worked together before, so they wrote separately and have their own stories and sets of characters in the piece. However, they were so generous with their time when working with me and each other, they actually equally invested in all the characters and the overall shape of the play. We experimented with a different order of scenes over the development period, and made the final decision about a month ago, all three of us together, with lots of post-it notes lined up along my living room floor.

CC: As a director, is it harder or easier working with a brand new script than an established work?
AG: I made the decision two years ago, when I graduated from university, to focus on new writing, and since then I’ve been involved in various projects working with playwrights. I love working with someone just as an idea is beginning to develop, responding to their work, giving my thoughts and a safe space for ideas to be tried. I’m not out ruling working on established plays in future, but at the moment I’m really excited about new writing in Scotland. Whenever a country begins to debate independence, there’s a surge in new work and I’m so happy to be part of it.

CC: What were your fears about staging a new play at the Fringe? Common and uncommon!
AG: Failure. No one coming to see the production. Money running out. Costumes going missing. Actors going missing. Light bulbs going out mid show. Balloons popping mid show. The list goes on…

CC: Although the Fringe has a long history as a hub of new playwriting, with an ever expanding programme across the board, are there challenges with bringing new theatre to the Festival?
AG: There are lots of challenges in being a new company and bringing a new play to the biggest arts festival in the world. We do feel very small sometimes among it all. We wanted to be ambitious and we wanted to bring our very best work. So in a way, we had to forget about the challenges and our fears, and just focus on making work we are proud of. And then spend a lot of time flyering!

CC: Our reviewer loved the show, is it going well?
AG: The ThreeWeeks review was so amazing, we were all so excited when we read it! The production is going really well, we have managed to sell out half our nights so far and we’re all really enjoying being part of the Fringe.

CC: Do you have plans to further develop or perform ‘Globophobia’ beyond the Fringe?
AG: We don’t have set plans at the moment, but I don’t think the play’s life is finished yet. And I’m open to offers!

CC: And what next for you and Urban Fox?
AG: There’s a new idea that we’re beginning to debate. And I know I want to be part of the next Fringe. There’s nothing like it, the audiences are brilliant, up for seeing work all day and all night, and seeing things they wouldn’t usually take a chance on – I love making work for them.

‘Globophobia’ was performed at Sweet Grassmarket at Edinburgh Festival 2013.

Photo: Natalia Equihua