An interview with creative producer Laura Drane

Hi Laura, can you please give our readers some background information on yourself and your role in the arts in Wales?

Light, Ladd & Emberton is a collective of three Wales-based dance artists – Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton – together with creative producer Laura Drane. We came together in 2014 to make CAITLIN, a show commissioned for the Dylan Thomas centenary by the National Library of Wales. Through collaborative working, Light Ladd & Emberton creates original professional performance work, with the aim of creating exciting and inspiring productions for audiences in Wales and beyond, and to represent Wales and the UK on a national and international stage. We draw on history and identity, predominantly of Wales, to create productions that have contemporary relevance and are culturally engaged.

We have two other productions this summer – a large outdoor piece in Harlech, called Croesi Traeth/ Crossing A Beach, which has just happened during Gregynog Festival; and another outdoor show touring to CADW castles in north Wales called Disgo Distaw Owain Glyndwr Silent Disco. So it’s a busy time to say the least! We also hope to do UK and international touring with CAITLIN after this summer so watch this space.

Can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Caitlin was the wife of poet Dylan Thomas. At the start of the 1970s, twenty years after he died, she started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. In a circle of chairs, set out for an AA meeting Caitlin makes a determined effort to deal with her tempestuous past. The audience sits in the circle with Caitlin as she revisits her life with Dylan. It is a relationship fuelled by love, addiction, jealousy and infidelity. As Caitlin and Dylan drink, fight, love and leave each other the unoccupied chairs become part of the action in this physical and powerful duet. CAITLIN was commissioned by National Library of Wales for DT100/ Dylan Thomas centenary in 2014, and won Best Dance Production in the Wales Theatre Awards 2015. CAITLIN has toured several times from 2014 till now, including a run at Dance Base for Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and a week at Battersea Arts Centre for #ANationsTheatre. It is part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2017. This Fringe run is funded by Arts Council of Wales ‘Wales In Edinburgh’ funding, via National Lottery, with Wales Arts International and British Council Wales.

Tell us about your team.

CAITLIN was, is and will always be a team effort. The choreography was developed by Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton, under Deborah’s direction with Eddie and Gwyn performing. The third performer is Sion Orgon, who live mixes the score every show, with original music created by Thighpaulsandra. Neil Davies designed the costumes and the striking images are by Warren Orchard and Noel Dacey, and Pete Telfer did the film capture which gave us the trailer and more. Laura Drane produces the show. Mostly when we are doing the show though it is just Eddie, Gwyn, Sion and either Deborah or Laura, on the road; a merry band of four and sometimes five. We do everything – driving, loading in, measuring up, sound and tech set, show sets and resets, front of house, post show talks, get out, the lot. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

How is work selected to go to the festival?

Well that’s the best bit – no-one picks, and anyone can book a space and go! The whole ethos of Fringes across the world is based on this, begun 70 years ago at Edinburgh when some companies who weren’t selected for the Festival just turned up and performed anyway. Having said that, CAITLIN has been selected to play as part of the British Council Showcase this year, a very prestigious programmed week of the best theatre and dance shows from the UK.

Wales Arts International who have funded some of the companies this year state, “The idea is to help the selected Welsh companies to present their work at the Fringe in the best possible way – with the best conditions – and, importantly, to connect with international promoters and programmers participating in the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.” Why is their support important along with Arts Council Wales and British Council Wales?

Because simply put, without it we couldn’t perform there and get the most from the opportunity – it really is a game changer.

The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your companies work?

It’s award-winning and has already had a sell out run at Dance Base in the Fringe in 2015. We were also selected for #ANationsTheatre at Battersea Arts Centre in London in 2016 as one of only two shows from Wales. Audiences recommend it on having seen it and use words like intimate and brutal. But really you’re going to have to see for yourselves to know what you think…

What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?

During the Fringe, we tend to sleep and eat well and have a physio session (performers only!) and then sleep some more. But we also do try and see other shows and go out to have some fun, meet other artists and companies, and so on. But CAITLIN is such a physically demanding show that self-care comes top.

What’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?
That’s a tough one since some of us have been going to the Fringe for 30 years! But if we had to pick a standout from last year, Laura really enjoyed Lost Dog Dance’s Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me). It uses a Nick Cave track at one point and it was a really weepy moment.


And finally, what does the Edinburgh Fringe mean to you?

Shows that hit and shows that miss, and some wild, wild nights! No, seriously. We are honoured to be up in the cradle of creativity, the mother of all Fringes, this year – its 70th anniversary and the 20th British Council Showcase year. It is possible to use only superlatives and cliché when talking about Edinburgh Fringe but it really is a melting pot of talent, a hubbub of creative endeavour, and a great place to spot and be spotted. We are looking forward to presenting the show in a church hall which will help it shine for audiences. Having been up before with CAITLIN in 2015 at Dance Base, and with other productions before, we are used to the hustle and bustle. The thrill of performing this piece and seeing audiences reactions never gets old. And it’ll be great to be up in Auld Reekie again, hoping that our show really does hit and that we have at least one wild night…

 

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