Guilty Secrets and The Road to the Fringe: 1

This is my new blog on taking my one-woman show, Guilty Secrets, to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2017. I saw a couple of superb one-woman shows there this year. One was Angel, a powerful piece about a pacifist Kurdish law student turned fighter in the war on ISIS, and the other, Jane Eyre, An Autobiography, which movingly captured the Bronte novel. In both shows, the solo performer played different roles in a long-form monologue. This got me thinking about the comic potential of my own novel Food Fight, a send-up of the food industry, as a show for next year’s Fringe. I reckon that its theme of the perils of hidden sugars in our food is still pretty topical and could be engaging in a live show. So I wrote to the writer and director of Angel who immediately replied that he already had plans for next year’s Fringe but that he’d try to come to my show. Until that moment I’d assumed that I’d find an actress. But what if I do it myself? And that, dear reader, is why I’m writing this occasional blog to chronicle the process from start to finish.

The Fringe is so well organised that there is an exhaustive guide for would-be participants, and its main attraction is that it’s open to all. Essentially, I need to get my ducks in a row by next January. For me that means having the material ready as soon as possible, crunching down Food Fight to a minimum of colourful characters. I’ve whittled them down to four: Susie, the naive heroine who is duped into marketing an addictive product (the boxes of chocolates called Guilty Secrets) and then turns whistleblower; Barney, her evil American boss; Mimi, her vegan daughter who rails against Big Food but with whom Susie is eventually reconciled; and Mark, the lawyer who comes to Susie’s rescue. The idea is to depict in dramatic, and hopefully comic, form one woman’s struggle against a multinational which puts profits above public health.

What are my qualifications for doing a stage show as a professional journalist, I hear you ask? I remember being crushed, when I was working in Montreal as a cub reporter, when a colleague mentioned to a friend – who of course passed on to me – that I was a “gifted amateur” because I hadn’t had formal training in journalism. So you could say that the same damning verdict applies here. My acting abilities haven’t been on display since I was in Dramsoc at London university. (My singing in one show even captured the attention of my first husband, but as he said recently to the Daily Mail, “enough said” about our failed marriage, so let’s not go there.) Now I’m wondering whether all those tap dancing lessons I’ve been taking might come in handy. Nothing ventured, nothing gained so I’m reaching out now for comic training and help in developing Guilty Secrets. Initial reactions have been hugely encouraging. I’m also pitching to independent TV producers to film the process of mounting my one-woman show from start to finish. If any of you out there are reading this – get in touch!

But first – to the script. Please Like this page or follow me, and spread the word, if you’re interested in future updates.