Going To Space: Cautionary Tales for Daughters - Songs your mother never taught you

Tanya Holt, producer, performer and writer is to grace the stage this year with Cautionary Tales For Daughters. Broadway Baby finds out more.

Cautionary Tales for Daughters draws on Tanya’s unconventional upbringing, her own experiences as a parent and real-life stories submitted by the public to cast a playful, sometimes painfully honest, light on the challenges, travails and triumphs of parenthood.

Tell us about your show

Composer and mother, Tanya Holt, brings a brand new show to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a foray by song into the dark heart of growing-up and the dark arts of parenting.

A recent workshop performance of Cautionary Tales for Daughters was described in The Times as "Hilaire Belloc does Caitlin Moran" and combining "gut-punchingly beautiful" lyricism with sharp humour.

Tales of the hapless, feckless and foolish stand as warnings: Cherry the Amazing YoYo Girl, an obsessive dieter caught between gluttony and vanity; Chanel The Labelled Girl, whose criminal obsession with designer clothes leads to her grisly demise; and fickle Princess Sylvia who only realises she could have had anything and anyone when it’s too late.

It’s Not OK is a heart-rending compilation of true and sometimes disturbing real-life stories drawn from group discussions Tanya undertook with men and women in Lambeth, London, where she lives. Animated backdrops illuminate the pages of a storybook as the tales unfold.

Cautionary Tales for Daughters draws on Tanya’s unconventional upbringing, her own experiences as a parent and real-life stories submitted by the public to cast a playful, sometimes painfully honest, light on the challenges, travails and triumphs of parenthood. As part of the performance the audience get to contribute their own words of caution and advice, which will be shared with the wider public on the show’s website http://www.cautionarytalesfordaughters.co.uk

Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?

As the producer, I was looking for a showcasing opportunity for future touring for Cautionary Tales for Daughters and in that respect the Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers an unparalleled opportunity. Charles at the Space Venues offers a clear-cut, affordable package. He is personable, reassuring and efficient and sees every company as individual. I was disappointed by how expensive it is to stage shows at the festival and was grateful that Space Venues can give new work and younger companies the chance to breathe publicly.

What makes your show unique amongst the thousands of others at the festival?

Cautionary Tales for Daughters draws on themes generated by the public. We held workshops for men and women to tease out ideas and establish which subjects would resonate most. As such, I feel the piece has been written by the people who took part in the research. Verbatim transcriptions are included in the writing. The participants were excited and moved to hear their ideas translated into song at our workshop performances.

How did you create your show?

Cautionary Tales for Daughters began as a personal project for my daughter Dotty (9). As a professional singer and composer, I wanted to produce a meaningful collection of songs that would resonate with her when she was older. Casual conversations about the project induced an expected amount of interest from other mothers and a stream of suggestions and themes was forthcoming. Based on this level of interest, I approached the Arts Council of England to see if I could secure funding to write and stage a full-length piece. The funding application was successful and I have been able to employ a fantastic creative team and set up some community research to establish themes of common interest. I have also been working with animators to produce a series of short films to accompany the cautionary tales.

Can you tell us a bit about your company’s background?

Cautionary Tales for Daughters is produced, written and performed by me, Tanya Holt (t/a Fair Warning). This is the first full-length piece that I have written. I have been a professional singer all my working life, mainly as one half of musical duo ShooShooBaby, who have performed previously at Edinburgh Festival Fringe singing dynamic and humorous new arrangements of established repertoire. The experience of years of self-producing and creating with this act, has enabled me to write and stage Cautionary Tales. Arts Council funding has made it possible to employ a great creative team on this project: Robin Kingsland (Director), Suzie Shrubb (pianist/Musical director) & Vesna Krebs (animator/videographer). This is Fair Warning’s first production.

Show Name: Cautionary Tales for Daughters – Songs your mother never taught you

Production Company: Fair Warning

Venue 1: theSpace on the Mile (39)

Dates: 7 – 15 August

Times: 10am

Twitter Handle: @tales4daughters

Venue 2: theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall (53)

Dates: 16 – 29 August

Times: 10.15am 

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