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FAN/GIRL - Edinburgh Fringe Interview

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe 2024 coverage, we are running a series of interviews with artists and creatives that are taking part in the festival. 

In this interview we talk to Bryony Byrne about FAN/GIRL.

Where did your arts career begin?
When I was ten I played the recorder in the Royal Albert Hall but that might have actually been when my career peaked. Only time will tell.

What can you tell me about your show?
Absurd, optimistic and joyful, Fan/Girl is a tongue-in-cheek ride through adolescence against a backdrop of nineties football. We follow a ten year old version of me from primary school to secondary school, guided by a spirit guide in the form of Eric Cantona (also me).

How would you describe the style of the show?
It's got a sort of home-made DIY aesthetic and lots of 90s nostalgia. There are many different elements to it, it's very playful and uses music, dance, drag, audience participation,
clown and theatre to tell the story. Imagine how it felt to play with your friends when you were a kid - that's the kind of style I'm going for.

How have you approached developing the piece?
I started working on it at a distance with my director Ben Target. We'd meet on Zoom and discuss the ideas and then I'd go away and develop it further alone. I had a few weeks of development time in person with a small team and a few showings in front of audiences that helped us understand the direction it should take. I think my style of working is to get all the ideas out and take on loads of feedback, then sort of sit quietly with all of it for months until the last minute when my brain will assemble it all together and try to make sense of it.

How do/will you prepare yourself for a run at the Fringe?
3-5 weeks with a personal trainer, daily singing lessons, running up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'm very Christian Bale about it so I fast for 4 weeks to get down to the size of a ten year old whilst simultaneously watching that 90s Nike advert over and over to get into the mind of Eric Cantona.

Other than the show, what’s something you’re looking forward to doing in Edinburgh this year?
I'm looking forward to flyering in Scotland dressed in an England football shirt…
In truth, I love swimming so I'm really looking forward to the structured existence of Edinburgh where I'll be able to set a good routine and go for a swim every day (too ambitious?!) I'm looking forward to seeing lots of friends and going to watch shows with them.

What keeps you inspired?
With a solo show it's very much the audiences, especially when you do audience interaction like I do. There's so many times when you come up with a joke on your own in your room or you try a way of doing something in a rehearsal but it's impossible to know what really works until you put it in front of an audience. Knowing that an audience has really enjoyed something that previously existed just in my own head is what keeps me putting stuff out there and listening to my own silly ideas. That's what makes it worth continuing.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing the show?
I hope it makes them laugh. I hope it leaves them thinking of their own childhood friends and the things they perhaps used to love but don't think about much any more. One old friend took up playing football again after seeing the show, which was incredible so I hope other people are inspired to revisit the things that brought them joy as children.

Where can audiences see the show?
It's on in the Demonstration Room in Summerhall at 12.10pm - 1.10pm from the 1st of August until the 26th.

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