We spoke to Stewart from Corp Ensemble about the new play he has written for this years Edinburgh Fringe, The Fetch Wilson, which is based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. We caught up about the show and about the risk/reward nature of theatre.
What drove you to make The Fetch Wilson?
Ed Mullane had produced and acted in my short film ‘Bittern’ last year and I found the process really enjoyable. I think we just clicked as a team. I’d been speaking to him and the Corp Ensemble (most of whom were also in the aforementioned short film, including our director Jed) about a large-scale theatre project potentially for 2019 and during the course of that conversation the prospect of a monologue was floated by…I actually can’t remember. I think it was Ed. I told him I had been mulling over a little-known Poe short story which I thought might work as a contemporary Dublin monologue and we moved on it fairly quickly. Because there was the skeleton of a piece there in the form of Poe’s original plot it meant that I was able to write the first 5 pages which an alacrity that bordered on the unhealthy. And certainly unrealistic, I hope I haven’t given them the impression I write that quickly in general….anyway, the first 5 pages seemed to work, the feedback was generally positive and we’ve just progressed from there.
What are the main themes of the play and why are they important to you and your audience?
Duality. The uncanny. A lack of place in the world. The truth that comes from poker. The feeling of just drifting through life. But also the idea that chance can shatter any cozy notions you might have as to how things are meant to go for you. Which can be both a good and a bad thing. Some real instances of this happened to people close to me during the writing of the play so that’s in there.
There are so many ways to tell stories, tackle issues, explore ideas - why theatre?
A couple of reasons- of all the art forms, to me theatre has the greatest risk/reward. I’ve spent some tough evenings in the theatre, a dark space where no one can hear you whimper. However, it is also a place where you can be transported to another time, to see things through a different lens, to witness real magic. There is nothing like that moment when something goes wrong in the theatre, that sense of danger, the electricity. You just never know what you’re going to get when you enter a theatre. It could be dull but it could be magnificent. It’s also one of the few remaining places where a group of artists can say ‘Let’s put on a show’ and within reason it’s doable. It’s important for younger people in particular to feel like there’s a place where their creativity can thrive. Theatre facilitates that and is important for that reason. And there’s an honesty and generosity in the theatre that I think is unique.
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
I loved ‘Dummy’ by Peter Dunne at last year’s Dublin Fringe. I did tell everyone to see it but it was sold out already so, you know. As a bit of a cheat I went to see Derren Brown’s show ‘Underground’ recently and I think my mind is still slightly blown. Everyone should see one of his shows at least once.
What else in the Edinburgh Fringe programme are you excited to see?
I missed ‘Class’ by David Horan and Iseult Golden in Dublin so I shall rectify that in Edinburgh. I’m intrigued by ‘Ken’ by Terry Johnson at the Pleasance so that's on the list. I love the unusual start times of shows in fringe festivals so I tend to go to see things based on whether they start at say, 3.30 rather than the theme of the play. Which is odd I know. I am however, an absolute sucker for anything Victorian and I counted at least 5 productions that caters for that whilst flicking through the gargantuan brochure the other day. Hopefully one of them will start at a preposterous time. I’d be all over that!
The Fetch Wilson is on at 11.30am at the Pleasance Courtyard!