ED2023 Caro Meets ED2023 Interviews ED2023 Theatre

Robyn Hunter: The Adventures Of Supernova De Loutherbergh

By | Published on Sunday 6 August 2023

You know we love firsts here at TW Towers and there are lots to be found at the Fringe, and here’s our latest find.

‘The Adventures Of Supernova De Loutherbergh’ is a new play, written and performed by Fringe first timer Robyn Hunter and directed by experienced actor-writer Bernice Leigh, who is making her directorial debut. 

The play tackles some serious subjects, but with a light comedic touch. I’m always keen to talk to promising newcomers – and Robyn certainly is that – so I spoke to her to find out more about the play and her hopes for the future. 

CM: Can you start by telling us what ‘The Adventures Of Supernova De Loutherbergh’ is about? What story does it tell?
RH: Ah, where to begin? ‘The Adventures Of Supernova De Loutherbergh’ is a one woman dark comedy all about the trials and tribulations of entering your twenties and becoming an adult.

It follows Supernova, a snarky 21 year old, as she attempts to grapple with the loss of her mother – and how the close relationships in her life have been affected by this – through the lens of a bad day she’s just had.

We like to tell people it’s about bananas because in many ways it is – and in many ways it’s not – but you’ll have to come along to see how the bananas weave their way into this tale!

CM: What themes does the play explore?
RH: This is fundamentally a play about grief: the grief Nova has for her mother, for the loss of her childhood, and for a life she knows she’ll never have again.

Navigating such a huge amount of – somewhat inevitable – loss is pretty heavy, and so I suppose the play explores the existential crisis following said loss through a lens that is as unbleak as possible.

CM: How would you describe it in terms of a style or genre? Is it a comedy? Does it have serious things to address?
RH: So I like to think the show is a dark comedy. Not dark in a particularly morbid or traumatic sense, but more so that there are a lot of heavy themes in the show – such as grief, depression, complicated family relationships and loneliness – but there’s also a lot of light too! 

A lot of the comedy comes from stories about Nova’s chaotic family and all the carnage that tends to follow them, and they’re the heart of the show really – or maybe I’m biased because they’re my favourite bits to perform.

It’s for sure a comedy with some serious things to say, but I’ve been told by everyone who has watched and cried – and also laughed too! – that it was very much cathartic tears. And hey, who doesn’t need a cathartic cry every now and then?

CM: What was the inspiration for the play? What made you decide to create a show on this topic and these themes?
RH: Oooh, this is a big question so I’ll try to keep it brief, but Supernova has been my brain child now since about 2016 – so she’s been around for a while!

Believe it or not there’s a whole lot more to Supernova than this 50 minute play. I first thought of her story as a surreal whodunnit adventure / comedy / drama TV show about five and a half years ago but I was too impatient to wait for someone else to let me tell her story.

So I decided to condense the heart of her tale into a one woman show and take it to the Fringe to share it myself instead!

I think when you’ve been writing about a character for that long, they sort of start to become a part of you and so naturally the themes in her life mirrored my own. As I navigated the highs and lows of entering my twenties so did Supernova and hence this play was born.

CM: How did you go about creating the show?
RH: So I started planning this play just over two years ago, and then I was fortunate enough to spend a year living in Vienna, so I ended up writing pretty much the entire thing there.

I’d go to this gorgeous place called Cafe Landtmann and write there every spare chance I got and then in the summer I edited and redrafted the entire play in the gardens of Schloss Belvedere.

I feel like I owe the entire writing process to Vienna – it’s not particularly difficult to be inspired when you’re living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

CM: Did you always plan to perform this yourself? Is it a very personal role?
RH: That’s a really interesting question for me, because when I first started writing I never used to imagine myself in my work – never ever.

And so when I first thought of Nova’s character, it was this really bizarre experience because it was the first time I felt this real possessiveness over one of my characters; Supernova was – and I think probably always will be – mine. 

As soon as I decided that I had to play her, I think I ended up using this play as a crux to process and unpack so many of my own thoughts and fears regarding adulthood and grief.

In many ways, the show is pretty unpersonal – our lives on the surface look very different – in fact, I’d even argue we’re pretty different people too. But Supernova will always feel so incredibly personal to me because I think we share the same heart, if that makes sense?

There’s a bit of Supernova in me and there’s a bit of me in Supernova and, even if no one else sees that, I’ll always know that we’re tied together – almost like a little secret!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your director?
RH: Oh, absolutely I can! The play is directed by the exceptional Bernice Leigh and she’s an extraordinary talent in so many different ways – she wrote a gorgeous guitar piece and did various voiceovers for the show as well as directing.

This is her directorial debut but she’s done a lot of work previously as a writer-actor, which really helped during the process as a writer-actor myself.

There’s a certain kind of fun that comes from working with someone who you also happen to know and love in real life and so the whole process was a total joy really.

I’m incredibly excited to keep working with her through our theatre company Benches We’ve Sat On, as well as seeing what she does in the future – no doubt it will be incredible.

CM: This is your Fringe debut, I believe? What expectations do you have of your run in Edinburgh?
RH: Yes, it is! I’m trying to dream big whilst also not being too hard on myself if/when things don’t entirely go to plan.

There are so many wonderful shows on and it can be really difficult to get the word about your show out there, which can sometimes be a bit demoralising.

But what I will say is that, if this show is loved even by just one person, I will be totally ecstatic – it’s such a privilege to be able to perform in this environment and I’m so grateful for the opportunity!

I hope this show touches people and that we get good audiences – what performer doesn’t – but either way I’m simply happy just to be here!

CM: What do you plan to do when you are not performing? Do you have an agenda? Shows? Tourist spots?
RH: Hahaha, have I got an answer for you – okay so when I’m not performing I will be spending a solid chunk of my day running around flyering… dressed as a banana. A giant yellow human banana… what can I say?

It’s the Fringe – you have to go all out! When I’m not banana-ing though, I will definitely be seeing as many shows as possible and trying out all the cool food markets.

Oooh, I love parks too, so I’d also love to take some time out of each day just to sit and write in one of the beautiful parks around the city, even if just for fifteen minutes.

Mostly though… it’s looking like I’m going to be dressed as a banana… ahhhh?!!

CM: Can you tell us about your path to this point? What made you decide to pursue the arts as a career?
RH: I mean, I’ve only really just started my career so I feel like I’m still very much at the beginning of this journey, but I would say I first sort of embarked on it when I was about fifteen.

I started taking acting classes and it was like this button in my head switched on, like  – “wait, you know, you could do this for a job if you wanted to?” – and that was it for me really. 

I wrote my first full length play when I was sixteen, started submitting my work to school competitions and then joined as many theatre societies as I possibly could when I went to uni!

As pretentious as it sounds – apologies in advance – I think when you have an all consuming passion for something like I have with writing and acting, you sort of feel like you’re left with no other choice but to pursue it?

I bear no illusions that I probably have many a table to wait before I get to do this as a full time job, but I can’t imagine anything else I’d want to do more than perform and write – and perform the work I write.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
RH: I’m really hoping this is only the beginning for Supernova and all her adventures – both the play and the TV show I mentioned earlier!

I have so much left to share of her story and I sort of feel like my purpose in life is to tell it, so I very much plan on doing everything in my power to make that happen – even if it takes me fifty years!

Really though, the dream is to do as much as creatively possible for as long as I possibly can… and then hopefully said creativity involves as much Supernova as humanly possible – telling her story really is the lifelong dream for me and so I’m so grateful to have already begun this journey of sharing it! 

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
RH: I’m – hopefully – going to try and create some post-Fringe opportunities that continue Supernova’s theatre journey and I have some other plays I’ve written that I’m planning to submit through various different avenues, but apart from that I’m not entirely sure.

I’m currently unrepresented which makes the industry slightly more tricky to navigate as an actor-writer, but I’m hoping that will change over the next year or two and it will be slightly easier to pick up some work then!

There are a lot of different paths the future can take me down at the moment which is a bit scary but also very exciting – I’ve spent the past five and a half years focusing on all of Supernova’s adventures and now it’s time to start focusing on my own.

‘The Adventures Of Supernova De Loutherbergh’ was performed at theSpace On The Mile at Edinburgh Festival 2023.