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Lucy Benson-Brown: Cutting Off Kate Bush

By | Published on Thursday 24 July 2014

Cutting Off Kate Bush

“Cathy is having a crisis”, says the blurb. “And she’s venting on YouTube through the medium of Kate Bush”. Well you gotta check out that one, haven’t you?
Lucy Benson-Brown has penned and performs in this new one-woman show ‘Cutting Off Kate Bush’, exploring how people commonly share private moments in the public domain in this here social media age. And she herself took to the net earlier this year to help fund the Edinburgh show, raising some of her budget through Kickstarter and having to record her own online video as part of the fund-raising campaign.
We caught up with Benson-Brown ahead of the Festival to find out how the Kickstarting went, to get the heads up on the piece, and to find out exactly how Kate Bush fits into it all.

CC: So tell us the basic premise of the show.
LBB: It’s about a girl called Cathy who finds herself in her old family home and, whilst there, discovers a box of her mum’s old records. As she listens to them she begins to have these vivid memories of her childhood and her mother. In an impulsive moment, she decides to post her findings on YouTube and so, eventually, all her discoveries past and present are documented online. And with that, of course, comes consequences.

CC: It seems that you’re exploring the phenomenon of people in private spaces expressing themselves in a very public domain via social media. What interested you in this?
LBB: When I was growing up, all my discoveries and musings were written in a diary, if at all. It was a private thing that I could throw away if and when I wanted to, and no-one would be any the wiser. But now we are so obsessed with our social media presence, I thought it would be interesting to have a character discovering and re-discovering private things through a public medium. Social media can be comforting, sometimes dangerously so, but often it’s a real beast and it’ll stab you in the back if you’re not careful. That’s what I wanted to explore with this play.

CC: And why the music of Kate Bush?
LBB: Partly, I guess, because she is so theatrical. Her music lends itself well to storytelling and the stage; it’s just so visual. But the main reason was because Kate Bush’s music represents a very specific era from when I was growing up. And its flamboyance and style is just so fun to work with as a performer.

CC: What are the pros and cons to both writing and performing a new play?
LBB: It’s really hard to step back from the writing and be able to analyse it. Often in rehearsals my director would ask me why something was the way it was and all I could say was: “I don’t know… it just is”. But over the rehearsal period it’s been fun coming up with the answers, being able to step away and get my actor hat on. I don’t know, because it’s so personal, the challenge is to find out how Cathy and I are different, so I have something to play.

CC: You’re a graduate of the Royal Court in London’s Young Writers Programme. Do you feel that scheme impacted on you as a playwright?
LBB: I definitely don’t feel like I’m a proper playwright. No way. I just feel like an actor who wrote something. The YWP was such a great experience for me, what I learnt there was absolutely crucial to this process and I kept going back to my notebook and reading notes on form and structure and all of the tips I was given. It was very helpful!

CC: Why was it important for you to bring this play to the Edinburgh Fringe?
LBB: I haven’t performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in nine years. I always wanted to come back and perform a solo-show, and one day I had this idea, and then before I knew it I had applied and here we are. I think as a performer and writer, bringing your work and sharing it in Edinburgh is an incredibly daunting experience but it is also an exhilarating one. It’s one of the best places in the world to perform. I’m so incredibly nervous but also, I just can’t wait!

CC: You raised some of your show budget via Kickstarter, which is something a few performers are now doing. What motivated you to go this route, and did it work?
LLB: Kickstarter is brilliant, because it allows you to engage an audience and if they believe in your idea, then they have the opportunity to pledge and you can offer them rewards, even if it’s simply tickets. In fact, because of Kickstarter, our previews are pretty much sold out, so it means that I get to share the play first with the people who helped to fund it, which is great support for those first few performances. I was absolutely amazed by the response from friends and family on Kickstarter, but a lot of people that pledged were not people that I knew, which was awesome.

CC: You had to make a video about the project to go on your Kickstarter campaign page. Did putting yourself on camera online help you get into character?
LLB: Yes I think so. I’m not very good with camera and self-tapes, I get so self-conscious. In the play, you never really see the videos played back, you only see her making them, but in rehearsals we recorded certain sections and played them back so I could see them… it definitely helped.

CC: What are your plans for ‘Cutting Off Kate Bush’ beyond the Fringe?
LLB: I’d like to take it back to London and play it there, but I’d also love to tour it. Who knows?

CC: I’d say ‘Babooshka’ closely followed by ‘Don’t’ Give Up’. What’s he best Kate Bush track and why?
LLB: ‘Hounds Of Love’. It’s incredible. I challenge you to find a better lyric in the whole history of British music. “Take my shoes off and throw them in the lake… and I’ll be two steps on the water”. Genius.

‘Cutting Off Kate Bush’ was performed at the Gilded Balloon at Edinburgh Festival 2014.