I’m sitting on a train, my laptop on my legs, the screen flickering with sunlight and passing reflections. Looking up occasionally, I’m catching glimpses of yellow fields with neat hedgerows, or small towns with a muddle of red roofs, chimneys, and lamp-posts. We’ve just overtaken a flock of black birds flying low in line with the speeding train.
It’s sunny, it’s Sunday, Charmaine’s snoozing in the seat across from me, and we’re on our way home after a week in Edinburgh debuting our new show ‘Not I’ at the Fringe.
It’s been intense and there have been moments when each day has felt like a week. But I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to be there, to see amazing shows, to contribute to crucial conversations, and most importantly, to share the story of a character I’ve come to care about deeply, Mouth in Samuel Beckett’s short play ‘Not I’.
‘Not I’ is a play that’s roamed around in my mind for years, coming up in numerous conversations, intriguing me, challenging me and ultimately becoming part of me. There are several lines from the text that now frequently come out as tics.
Taking on ‘Not I’ felt like a big risk largely because of how different it is from Biscuit Land and other work we’ve made. But I’ve come to care passionately about showing how intense theatrical experiences can be made accessible to people with different types of minds and bodies without reducing the intensity of the work.
The response from audiences has been fantastic and we’ve had several thoughtful reviews. Of course some people will feel attached to the way it’s been presented in the past and will have a fixed idea of how and by whom it should be performed. But I hope that because every performance is ‘relaxed’, has integrated sign language, and audio description, more people than ever will be able to experience the play and decide whether they like it or not.
Being back in Edinburgh has been incredible I feel lucky to have been part of the Fringe and to be part of an amazing team.
The view outside the window has changed and the tower blocks, football stadiums and densely packed back gardens of my home city are rolling in.