Interview: Decameron

As Brighton Fringe gears up for 2016, Broadway Baby offers a preview of the shows, the people and the world that is Brighton Fringe. We’ve been speaking to participants from around the Fringe and asked them to give us an insight into their shows.

Decameronis set in medieval Italy, against the gruesome and dramatic background of the Black Death


Richard Spaul, in situ: theatre company



Tell us a bit about yourself

I'm an actor, singer, director and drama teacher. I'm one of the artistic directors of in situ: and the director of this show. I'm also playing keyboards in it and singing. I started in situ: in 2000 with a view to exploring site-specific theatre. Since then I've worked with hundreds of collaborators - creating performances, doing workshops and running theatre residences.

Can you tell us a little bit about your show, what can we expect?

Decameronis set in medieval Italy, against the gruesome and dramatic background of the Black Death. A group of young people flee the plague in Florence and hide out in their country estate. They tell each other stories to pass the time. In our show you can hear dozens of these stories, told by gifted storytellers - many of them are very funny and a lot of them involve sexual intrigue. These all happen in the churchyard of Preston Old Church. Meanwhile, inside, the Black Death is raging and you can see fascinating choreography based on The Dance of Death, where the living encounter their own dead selves! All this to an accompaniment of Blues and Folk. 'Death don't have no mercy in this land.'

Why did you decide to perform your show at the Brighton Fringe?

We came last year with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. We had a wonderful time, were made very welcome, got a lot of support from the Fringe and from our venue and played to big and enthusiastic audiences. So we are hoping for more of the same.

What makes your show different?

Our show is a multifocal walkaround show! What does that mean? Well, it means that the audience move around the whole site - inside and outside the church - while many aspects of the performance are happening simultaneously. So it's very varied and there's a lot of audience freedom.

Who would enjoy seeing your show?

Anybody who enjoys good stories; anybody with taste for the gruesome and macabre; anyone interested in new developments and experiments in theatre; anyone who likes listening to The Blues; anyone interested in choreographic work. There's a lot on offer, so we hope it will appeal to a lot of people.

What has been the best advice you have been given?

Difficult one. I think that when creating theatre work, it's essential to do what you yourself exciting interesting and good. Perhaps too many people try to guess what an audience in general will like. Obviously, you hope your audience likes it, but you've got to really like it yourself. If you don't like it, don't do it!

What show, apart from yours, would you recommend at the Brighton Fringe and why?

I don't know about any of them yet I'm afraid, but we're hoping to catch some while we're there. I've seen some fantastic stuff in the past of which the best was a site-specific performance called 'Don't look back' by a wonderful environmental theatre/installation group called dreamthinkspeak.

What do you think audiences will enjoy the most about your show?

The original use of an atmospheric and evocative site; the variety of stuff happening; the closeness between audience and performers; the hilarity and energy of the stories.

Decameronis appearing at the Preston Old Church, 21-22 May 19:30