Dream Pill is the story of Bola and Tunde, a pair of Nigerian girls trafficked to the UK. The play marks the Edinburgh Fringe debut of Clean Break, a theatre company that works with women affected by the criminal justice system. Artistic Programmer, Lucy Morrison, tells us about the decision to take the plunge at the Fringe, over 30 years since the company was founded…
I’ve taken work up to the festival prior to being at Clean Break, so I have a good sense of what works well there.
I had the urge to put Dream Pill back on after we presented it as part of the Charged London season back in November, but because it’s a half-hour show, I knew it would be quite difficult to place as a stand-alone production in London again, or on tour.
But it’s the perfect festival piece: it’s a two-hander, and even though they’ll be performing it in a theatrical space at the Fringe, it’s quite a flexible little production. We took it to a couple of conferences where we had none of the theatrical setting and it was astoundingly powerful. The feedback we received made me realise that we could take it anywhere.
Its length is one of the things that are brilliant about it because you have half an hour with these girls where you really connect with them, then they drift out of your life again. I suppose this is pragmatism, but I do think short pieces can be fantastic at the festival: people get completely overwhelmed with the amount of work they’re seeing, so if they see one short powerful thing in the day, I think that’s the one that they’re going to remember.
A real driving force behind the decision to take Dream Pill to the Fringe is that we want to get some international attention for it. I think it’s incredibly tourable. It’s got international themes – most Western countries have an issue with Nigerian girls being trafficked in – and it’s a universal story about childhood and the loss of innocence. We are taking part in the British Council Trade Fair on 26 August during Edinburgh Showcase week, so we’re making the most of the opportunities to tell the international theatre community about the show.
Of course there’s some nervousness about the level of competition to get audiences, but the festival’s a really word-of-mouth marketing environment and I feel confident that we’ve got a piece that is going to trigger that word-of-mouth and gather momentum. It’s very competitive out there, but I feel strongly that the piece is going to cut through that. And of course we’re doing everything we can marketing-wise.
It’s hard to go to Edinburgh because it’s as expensive as putting a show on in London, but because a lot of people come to the festival from all over the country and all over the world, if it works, it feels like a great way of reaching people.
Lucy Morrison was talking to Jo Caird.
Dream Pill is at Underbelly, Cowgate, Edinburgh from 4 to 28 August 2011. Buy tickets.
IdeasTap is running a series of career-boosting events at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, Edinburgh, from 8 to 23 August. Find out more on our Edinburgh microsite.
Image: Sheila Burnett.