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Interview with Guy Picot

Playwright and Director of Bonnie in Brighton

A one-woman show starring Erin Parks, who was nominated for best actress at last year's Brighton Fringe Festival

 

Bonnie in Brighton returns to the Brighton Fringe May 14-28

Prior to its Edinburgh run

Interview onducted by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Mary:Hi Guy. I thought we might start off with you, giving our readers a synopsis of your theatrical career so far, both in relation to Bonnie in Brighton and previous/other projects...

How did you get started working in theatre?

Guy: I started working on the crew at my local theatre in Canterbury when I was sixteen. I got my equity card as an ASM in Chester then started trying to get acting work.

 

 

Mary: Did you always want to be a playwright and/or director?

Guy: No, I think a lot of actors come to the idea that it would be nice to generate work for themselves. I first wrote for that reason but realized that I enjoyed writing for its own sake. I've only really directed my own stuff; I don't really have any ambition as a director.

 

 

Mary: Why have you chosen to bring Bonnie … back to the Brighton Fringe Festival? Was it difficult arranging its Edinburgh premiere?

Guy: Last year the show went very well but the audience built slowly. So we're trying to hit the ground running this year and build on last year's success. The Brighton Fest feels like a low stakes rehearsal for Edinburgh.

 

 

Mary:Could you give us some idea of what's involved with getting a production staged at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals?

Guy: It's relatively simple; both festivals realize they may be dealing with first-time producers so there is a lot of guidance. Basically you pay to get in the brochure and find a venue to take your show. Edinburgh venues are very expensive, as is accommodation; you'd have to do very well to break even.

 

 

Mary:The American star of your one woman show, Bonnie in Brighton , Erin Parks, was nominated for best actress for her superb performance last year at the Brighton Fringe Festival. Do you have any plans to work together in any other plays/shows in future?

ImageCourtesy of Guy Picot

Guy:Bonnie in Brighton is very much Erin's show. I'm sure we'll do stuff together in the future but at the moment I think she's looking forward to working with other people.

 

 

Mary:As you know, we, along with a few other EXTRA! EXTRA! readers came to see Bonnie in Brighton during its London run at the White Bear Theatre last summer. We enjoyed it very much and would love to see it have another London run. We imagine that shouldn't be too difficult, in light of the fact that the play got about as good a review in the Stage paper as a play can get, saying in fact, that it was just about ‘as good as theatre gets.' Is there any chance of Bonnie… re-visiting London Guy, possibly after its Edinburgh run?

Guy: I hope so; depending on what happens in Edinburgh we will try to tour it in the autumn.

 

 

Mary:You've got a lot of experience with writing and directing. Do you have a preference between the two?

Guy:Writing is my dream job. It's great to sit in an audience that is listening to stuff you've written. Directing I find pretty stressful.

 

 

Mary:Do you find it more difficult directing a play you've written yourself, or a revision of someone else's work?

Guy: I think I'd only dare direct something I'd written myself.

 

 

Mary: A children's show that you've written the lyrics for - Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus recently had a run at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, here in London. I understand it's about to go on an American tour, and will also be touring in the US in 2007. You're also going to write the lyrics for the company's upcoming Christmas show –Night before Christmas . How did you become a lyricist for these productions, and how did the US tour of Pigeon … come about?

Guy:Big Wooden Horse is going to be run by Adam Bampton-Smith, who I have worked with a lot. I was script associate on his first show and his next show Pigeon… needed songs, so I offered my services as lyricist. The show is based on a best-selling American children's book so there was interest from America straight away. They sent a booker over to see the show and then offered the tour.

 

 

Mary: I understand you're soon going to be working in an opera called Fidelio with illustrious theatre director, Deborah Warner in Glyndebourne this month. How did that opportunity come about? Did you ever entertain thoughts of such a thing when you were an extra in Warner's production of Julius Caesar at the Barbican last spring?

Guy: I heard they needed actors and rang up. I first worked with Deborah at English National Opera so it's not such a huge departure for me.

 

 

 

Mary: You've also done a lot of work for television, in terms of scriptwriting, including episodes of Footballer's Wives , and the hit series Bad Girls . And, you'll also be working as a script-associate on the forthcoming show, Bad Girls – The Musical. How do you think working on various types of writing and in different mediums has influenced your writing, overall?

Guy: I think that as a television writer I pretty much write what I'm told to write. So writing my own small-scale theatre stuff is exercising my imagination more. Working on Bad Girls the Musical has been great, as the process has taken over three years; it opens in June at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

 

 

 

Mary: As a resident of Brighton, how would you say the town's fringe theatre scene compares with London's? And how difficult is it to have a play produced in Brighton as opposed to in London?

Guy: I'd say in general it's easier and cheaper to put a play on in Brighton, but it's more difficult to get the people who matter to see it.

 

 

 

Mary: Could you tell us a little about the Brighton Fringe Festival? Why do you think people in London should make the effort to visit the Brighton Festival? How do you think it compares to the Edinburgh Festival?

Guy:It runs from May5-May 28 th , quite a few companies and comedians are using it to try out Edinburgh material. It's necessarily patchy; there will be some dreadful shows and some brilliant shows. Compared to Edinburgh it's small, but I think that just makes it a bit less daunting for the uninitiated. This is a party town anyway, and during the fest even more so. You should come down because you're worth it.

 

 

Mary:Many thanks! We wish you the best of luck with all of your upcoming productions. We'll especially look forward to hearing about the Brighton and Edinburgh runs of Bonnie in Brighton . And we hope to see it in London again in the not too distant future! Artistic Directors take note…

 

In the meantime, for a great day/night out, pick a date and book yourself some tickets to Bonnie in Brighton (details below) and if you don't feel like taking the car, you can book a 1£ seat (in advance) from London to Brighton on Megabus – www.megabus.com

BONNIE IN BRIGHTON

A one-woman show performed by Erin Parks, written and directed by Guy Picot

 

Redroaster Coffee House

1D St. James Street

May 11-14, 25-28, 8pm nightly, £ 5.00 (£4 concs)

Fringe Box Office: 01273 709709

www.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk

 

Call Guy for interviews, press information and jpeg images on 01273 673032 bb