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How To Keep Up With The Kardashians - Sophia Rosen-Fouladi and Eliza Lewis Edinburgh Fringe Interview

Brilliant theatre company So La Flair are bringing their latest work 'How To Keep Up With the Kardashians' to the Edinburgh Fringe. This fiercely passionate piece will run at Udderbelly Cowgate from 4th to 14th August. 

Ahead of the festival, I sat down with producer Sophia Rosen-Fouladi (she/they) and performer Eliza Lewis (she/her) to discover more about the show. 

Our chat began with a discussion about what the show is about with Sophia explaining "'How To Keep Up With The Kardashians' looks and dissecting the abnormal aesthetic and beauty values that we're brought up around and bombarded with. It's a dance party protest against that and assessing why we're made to feel ugly and why we do feel ugly and redefining beauty on our own terms"

Sophia further explained the journey of the project "it started as a university project and it kind of grew into something bigger. I joined nearly a year ago when we decided that we wanted to take it to London stages and to the Fringe. We set up a redevising process because it was created before the pandemic, so when I joined we created a series of rehearsals to redevise and re-evaluate. The pandemic caused a lot of us to look at ourselves in very different ways so to take that on board. Then it was a case of taking from showcase to Fringe to springboard further."

Eliza has been attached to the project from the beginning "I was there from the get-go, I got into the show in 2019 when we first started it as a drama society piece. For me I've been there since day one, I remember our audition room. The whole piece was inspired by one of our directors Lucy Laverty she saw one of Chloe Kardashians's adverts for a sliming protein shake, and how are we ever meant to reach that beauty standard of what they set as the Kardashian empire. I've been there since day one as an actor and deviser and I think I can speak for all the actors that we've all throughout the journey have changed very dramatically in terms of how we want to present ourselves and the message we want to give"

With the piece being described as "a dance party protest" I asked the pair what they would want an audience member to take away from seeing the show. Eliza hopes "the main thing we want to leave the audience with is that we're seven women on stage and it's that no one person has to think in one certain way. We want everyone to feel empowered to however they want to think of themselves, we want people to be inspired to say f it and go and to live their lives how they want to live. Particularly with my journey in it, I speak a lot about the journey of recovery and whatever form of recovery you're in, I certainly want the audience to leave with the fact that we're all dealing with our own issues and through the course of recovery it can look like whatever you want it to look like. It's taking that keeping up culture and just smashing it to pieces"

The show is also described as "disrupting the patriarchal norms of theatre" I asked how they go about that. Sophia said "I think part of it is just us all being in the creative process and on stage being loud and exactly who we all want to be. The space we create in the rehearsal room translates to what we create on stage. It eradicates any hierarchy that we're forced to exist around and just lets you exist in the moment as you want to and not be judged by that or feel restricted in any way. The seven women and non-binary people and four women and non-binary creative team so just the voices running through it are the antithesis of patriarchal values and norms." 

Eliza added further "one of the directors, she's very into astrology and healing and she was talking about the patriarchal nine to five 5 day working week and how we're all meant to be revolving around that structure. I think what our play does is that it just obliterates that structure so even in its essence it's disrupting the patriarchal norms of society through the formula of the play"

The show is based on interviews with real-life women and non-binary people I posed just how key that was during the development of the show. Eliza said "we all went and interviewed anyone who we felt had an important and interesting story to share. We all went away and listened to things and picked out particular moments that resonated with us and we thought were important to the process of the play. At the beginning of the play we have a whirling soundscape of all these different women and it shows you that there may be seven of us on stage but actually, we are speaking for all the women and non-binary people that have been affected by the patriarchy. We have us on stage as a little army but we have the force of all these other voices behind us so we don't feel alone on stage and feel like we're doing it for all those people and showing it is something that can only be combated in numbers"

Sophia added "I think it runs from research to the whole piece being partly verbatim so it runs through the vein of the project"

At the time of speaking the Fringe is a week away. I posed to the pair how they were feeling ahead of the run. Sophia said "we're all full steam ahead now, it's all we can think about. We've got as a company we don't just make theatre, we also create events and creative spaces at the minute in and around Manchester so we've got a event called Pleasure Rebellion which is kind of our fundraiser for the Fringe which is a space for new creatives to come and try out work. We've got our So La Flair spaces that will be coming up Edinburgh."

Eliza said "we did a run of the play at 42 Degrees Festival in the Lake District last week and that gave us all the confidence we needed for taking it to the Fringe. We were performing in a completely open outdoor space, you don't have any lighting or backstage so we felt very naked in a sense and that gave us the confidence and reassurance we need to take it up the Fringe. We are ecstatic, excited and in crazy rehearsals but that's the way we run things at So La Flair. It's all under control." With Sophia adding "it's creative and organised chaos"

In asking the pair to describe the show in three words. Eliza said "colour, sparkles and attitude" and Sophia chose "fearless, disruptive and healing".

Talk turned to the question I ask all my interviewees simply what does theatre mean to you? Sophia explained "it's the biggest question in the industry. I think it's all wrapped up in So La Flair's ethos and why I work with them. It's a really important space to create community, a place to express yourself and also to be political and loud and bring people together and bring important stories to people and share it."

Eliza said for her "when the pandemic happened and traditional theatre spaces were taken away from us, the backlash and surge and craziness that came out of that perfectly encapsulates why theatre is so important for me and how much certain governments want to strip us away from it just shows why it is so so important for to the way we run. It's about bodies, it's about togetherness, it's about creating new safe spaces for people to do whatever they want to do which you rarely get in life, we are always restricted by rules and regulations. I think the theatre is a space where you can just show up and do whatever you want to do, it's a place of creativity, a place of love, and of rebelliousness" 

As Eliza expressed the pandemic has been a difficult time for theatre but the pair both explained how the time has allowed for creative growth and to allow the show to evolve. Eliza saying "the truth of it is that we're all young creatives who are trying to do all things at once because that's the only way we're going to get anywhere. This second run has given us that time, we were rehearsing every weekend for 6-7 weeks. The truth is this place is about people and about us and we're never going to be fully developed and that's just the way the play is too and I think every time we perform it something new comes up. Sometimes we think we're going to reach this level and we don't, and I think that is just the nature of us as humans so I think this play is never going to be fully developed because as people we aren't fully developed, it's always learning and growing. It's given us the chance to develop and change and create the play as it to what it is s now but it's never going to be a fully developed process, it's never going to be a Shakespeare"

For Sophia who hasn't been there since the beginning, she said "for myself, only me and the sound design joined in the second half of what Kardashians is, so I started as an audience member and then joined the project. I think I see what the pandemic allowed us to not only reclaim space and tell these stories but come with a more mature sophisticated understanding which I think that pause allowed to us to say "we hate what is happening and this is where want to be but we're human and we understand that we're not perfect and that we don't have the answers and that we're still trying to figure this out ourselves." I think that time has allowed for that sophistication to come into the play and I don't think that could have happened without that massive pause and time to reflect."

Whilst the focus is currently firmly on the Edinburgh Fringe I posed if there would be a future life for the project after the run. Sophia explaining "this show never ends, it's so based on the people who create it, constantly evolving and constantly having stories to tell. I think it's a project that could carry and needs to carry. These issues are still current and are growing and we hope to grow alongside them to constantly have that two sides of the story being told at one time."

Eliza expressed how the development process is something they'd like to take further "the devising process is as crucial to the play as the final showcase of the show is. So if it's not taking the showcase somewhere it's taking the devising process somewhere. I for one know how healing that devising process is, it's a lovely way of bringing yourself out of your shell. So La Flair in its essence will absolutely be going on to do lots of different things."

Sophia added, "the play doesn't just exist as a play it also exists as a community theatre project where we can take it as a workshop to replicate that devising process to schools or different spaces and I think it'll have a life that will exist forever."

Our chat ended with the pair explaining why anyone should come and see the show. Sophia said "I think you should come to see the show cause you are going to laugh, you're going to cry, you're going to leave with more questions than you came in with. It leaves you with something to take away for yourself and I don't think all productions do that. We welcome you into the space and make you part of the family and we want to welcome you in so please come on in". 

Eliza concluded "come and see the show if you have any doubt in yourself, if something isn't quite right at the moment, if you feel you've got all these questions in your head. I'm not saying we will be able to answer all or any of those questions but we might be able to help you heal whatever might be slightly broken at the moment. Just come if you want a laugh or a cry. guaranteed you'll leave with millions of questions in your head and millions of particles of excitement as well."

How To Keep Up With The Kardashians plays at Udderbelly Cowgate in the Belly Button space from 4th to 14th August at 2.20pm. Tickets can be purchased from

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