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Katharine Arnold - Sophie’s 29th Birthday Interview

Get your party hats and animal balloons at the ready, as the troupe demonstrate their jaw dropping and awe-inspiring talents including aerial, hand-to-hand, roller-skating and comedy acts.

Imagine if Take That never broke up, Cirque du Soleil had sunstroke and No. 10 had actually known how to throw a party. 

This interactive circus & cabaret show is stumbling into Circus Hub with its Fringe debut, featuring world-class performers from Cirque du Soleil, Britain's Got Talent, Gogglebox, and more. Expect twilight fan fiction, unicycling drug dealers and death-defying feats.

Ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe I sat down with Katharine Arnold to discuss the show.

Can you tell me a little more about Sophie's 29th Birthday and how you fit in the production?
Sophie’s 29th is the brainchild of Nathan Price, Isis Clegg Vinell and I. We had been talking for years about making a show which crossed the chasm between glossy line up cabaret shows and contemporary circus ensemble shows - we wanted it to be character driven and to feel like a collaborative company piece, but to keep it irreverent and fun. It’s an interactive party show but with high level skill acts and quite a lot of crisps…
Where did your passion for circus performing begin?
I was a dancer and musician from a young age, and then did a theatre degree, during which time I started taking classes in trapeze just for fun. When I graduated I ended up working at a finance company but then ran away to literally join the circus…I worked with a flying trapeze company touring a rock’n’roll circus show for a couple of years, fell in love with it, and have never had a normal job since!

How do you approach the interactive element of the piece?
We decided to ignore the rules about what you should and shouldn’t do with audience members (we are not good at rule) so expect flying wotsits, enforced karaoke and difficult decisions.
What keeps you inspired as an artist?
Other artists, mainly. Watching shows, seeing my peers performing, teaching my students at NCCA, and then also occasionally just waking up in the night with a dumb idea.
What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing Sophie's 29th Birthday?
The feeling that anything could happen, that they’ve been involved in a night to remember, exhilaration from a fun time, and possibly a greater knowledge of the lyrics of a well known 90s pop song…
Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Circus, Comedy, Chaos

Sophie’s 29th Birthday plays at the Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Hub at the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. Visit to book tickets.

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