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Rania Chrysostomou and Sarah Parkin - On Being Vocal Wandsworth Fringe Interview

In a series of interviews, we are chatting to artists involved with the 2024 Wandsworth Fringe. The Fringe Festival runs from 7th until 23rd June.

In this interview, we chat with Rania Chrysostomou and Sarah Parkin about On Being Vocal.

Where did your arts career begin?
It's hard to pinpoint one moment in my career that marks the beginning of it as over the years I had small pieces being performed around the world every now and then. But if I could declare one moment would be with the performance of my Cypriot melodrama 'Stories, Odes and Chants'. All music was written by me, the story, the idea, and then the curation and production of it, and it took place in June 2022 in Cyprus. I realised that the best place for that performance wasn't England, where I had been living in for the past 9 years at the time, but it was Cyprus, my home-country. 

What can you tell me about your show?
All those taboo feelings, shame, guilt, jealousy, and more, are being exposed in 'On Being Vocal' and the audience sees them unfold in a women's support group. It is a one-woman a Capella micro-opera performed by experimental soprano Sarah Parkin and written by me and Sarah.
Where did the idea for the show come from?
I wrote these pieces while I was trying to understand different changes in my life, navigating through parenthood, the pandemic, career, society. It became my way of documenting moments in my life that I wanted to go unseen but were bothering me. They were in fact powerful life experiences that as it turned out, couldn't be contained even on a piece of paper.
How do you prepare for a performance?
I won't be performing in this show but I do a preparation for the performance nonetheless. And here it goes: Excluding the months of preparation, discussions, rehearsals, planning and re-working the show with Sarah Parking who is the performer of the show, on the night before the performance I make sure I have a good-night's sleep. Have all my bits and bobs ready to go the next day (laptop, extra drive with all digital material, extra props in case something goes wrong etc), arrive at the theatre as early as can be, give my blessings to Sarah and that's it! Then it's all making sure Sarah has what she needs in order to prepare for the performance. Be checking with Catherine Valve who is on the video installation, clean up and tidy up the venue and make sure everything is ready for the big moment.
What is the message of your show?
Our show is more of an observation on how we deal with emotions, what may happen if we are given the chance - time and space - to explore and express these emotions without judgment and expectations. Is it all dark and gloom, how do we deal with self-deprecating humour, is feeling relieved and content enough? 
Perhaps if there was a message in our show, it would be that your feelings matter so take time to experience them!
If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why?
Fox's Ginger Crunch Cream but with chocolate cream - reliable, but with a flare of adventure
Can you describe the show in three words?
Intense, humorous, emotional (review by an audience member when it was performed at the Tete a Tete: the opera festival 2023 last September)
When can people see the show and follow the journey beyond?
16th of June 2024 at 7:00pm at The Living Room Place.

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