Co-founder of Tasty Monster Productions, Heather Bagnall, made her debut at the Edinburgh Fringe last year with SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL. Bagnall and her delicious monsters are back to reprise the show and are also bringing another treat for Fringe audiences, Ferdinand – Bull in a China Shop. Pete Shaw caught up with Bagnall to ask a few questions.
We have a circle of friends and artists we cultivated last year and a show that is as tight and polished as it will ever be. I'm just chomping at the bit to get started!
Tell us about the Edinburgh show?
“This year, we are coming to Edinburgh with two shows, our award winning solo show SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL, based on the hilarious blog singlemarriedgirl.com and our newest production on limited run, Ferdinand, a original show inspired by the children's book The Story of Ferdinand. To tell the truth, I'm not sure which show I'm more excited about. SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL is all about being in a relationship and feeling entirely alone and what do you do when that's just not enough. I've had such an amazing experience telling this story, discovering singlemarriedgirls (and guys) throughout the world. I'm fighting to prove optimism has a place in the dark, melancholy world of Fringe. Ferdinand is the story of Tom, a single dad who is just trying to raise his son in a world determined to make him fight. Ferdinand, his son, has been raised on the story of Ferdinand, the bull who refused to fight but just wanted to smell the flowers. I wrote it as an anti-bullying story for children but it seems to really resonate with families and particularly with parents who fight that same battle every day.”
What's it like to be returning to Edinburgh?
“It's magnificent. I can't lie, of course I was trepidatious because I'm working right up to the moment I head overseas after having the luxury of a month of previews last year, but we had such an incredible experience in 2013 and we are coming back with lessons learned; we understand the audiences better, we know the lay of the land and we are in a brand new, vintage venue as part of Greenside at Nicolson Square. We have a circle of friends and artists we cultivated last year and a show that is as tight and polished as it will ever be. I'm just chomping at the bit to get started!”
Greenside Nicolson Square is a new pop-up venue. Is it exciting to be performing there?
“Um, Yes!!! I loved our venue last year but there is something so special about Nicolson Square. It feels like Edinburgh. For an American, performing in such a beautiful, historical and magnificent architectural site is just a joy. In America, we are very proud of our history as a nation, but it amounts to little over two hundred years and our Fringe Festivals are usually in derelict reclaimed or found spaces from the last seventy years or so. Just performing in Edinburgh is transformative and to be in such a beautiful stone structure, it feels like we are a part of something otherworldly. It's SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL, the Hogwarts years!”
You're part of the East to Edinburgh season at 59E59 in New York - what's it like to be part of that community?
“59E59 is a machine. They have made the process so easy, which is great because I'm not exactly a local. I'm four hours out of the city which for Americans is not that far, but I understand for the Europeans that's like a two week holiday. It's not quite a community because we are converging on NYC for a weekend but for me as a lifelong artist and fan of New York, it is a dream come true to have a New York run. I dreamed about this as a little girl but never, even in my wildest dreams, did I think I'd be in New York speaking my own words, telling a story which is so close to my heart and performing in my own original show. I went to college in Staten Island so it truly feels like I'm coming home. Thank goodness for Edinburgh or I might never leave again.”
Finally, since attending last year, in real life you've gone from single girl to married girl. What was the best wedding present?
“Hm, that is a tough one because our friends and family were so generous, particularly my new family. I think I have a top three. Two of my dear friends from college came to the wedding. We realised that our last couple of reunions had been at funerals, so they decided that enough was enough and booked flights. It was incredible that they, along with my best friend and my father, made the voyage because we got married in Luke's hometown of Welborne in East Anglia. The second would be my wedding dress, which a friend of mine made in two days because my original plan fell through. I was calm believing somehow I would find a dress I could afford that fit perfectly in another country, no problem, but she wouldn't let me go to England without a wedding dress. I'm still sworn to secrecy as to her identity. And I think the one that meant the most to me. I mentioned to my future mother-in-law that I didn't have heather in my wedding bouquet. It's my namesake and it just seemed important but none of the flower shops had any. We went to pick up Luke's nephew from school and I asked him why he had his hands behind his back. Beaming, he presented me with a little handful of heather, which he had cut from the neighbor's garden (after asking, of course!). Not only was it a wonderful gesture, but I knew that my mother-in-law and not my five-year-old nephew was the brainchild behind it. I like to think it proof positive things really can work out for the SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL.”
Twitter: @TastyMonster @LukeTudball @HeatherBagnall