What’s the title of your show?
Midnight at the Boar’s Head
Where is it playing, on what dates and at what times?
The Hurly Burly
20th May (6.30 & 9.00pm)
22nd May (9.30pm)
+ FREE live music, theatre and poetry before and after Sunday 20th shows (from 1pm)
+ ‘Devising Shakespeare’ public workshop, 23rd May, 4-7pm.
What is it about?
The Boar’s Head was Shakespeare’s favourite pub. We’ve brought it to life and filled it with an array of colourful characters. Some of them you’d expect to find there, propping up the bar; Prince Hal and Falstaff are front-men of the pub band, for example. But others we have relocated from across Shakespeare’s complete works.
The result is a foot-stomping, ale-swilling adventure about friendship and camaraderie, war and responsibility, love and loss, drinking and drunkenness.
And the entire piece is driven by live folk music. Fine Chisel’s four multi-instrumentalist storytellers not only play all the characters, they also perform beer-fuelled sea shanties, close-harmony working songs and haunting funeral odes.
What is new and different about it?
It’s a brand new devised piece, with all original music. But every word, spoken and sung, is Shakespeare’s.
It’s the first time Fine Chisel have applied our folk sound and handmade storytelling style to existing text.
Audience members will be required to fire party poppers and silly string. And there’s a strong likelihood you’ll get a free beer.
What would one of your rehearsals look at sound like?
We shout to each other over the bedlam, ‘Do you think they did this in the original production of Henry V?’ as we fire confetti cannons and balloons across the room.
The four of us stand in a circle, often around a pot of tea, with our instruments (normally guitar, mandolin, cello and double bass), practicing harmonies.
‘Do you think that looks like a nose?’ one of us asks, as we paint lipstick on a puppet-pintglass.
‘What if Caliban wandered into the bar?’ we muse, before remembering that we have three days to re-rehearse the show before our Brighton Fringe dates. ‘We’ll save that for Edinburgh, then’.
What’s the story behind the show’s appearance here? How did it come about?
‘Midnight at the Boar’s Head’ was originally commissioned and produced by Theatre Royal Bath for their Shakespeare Unplugged Festival in February. They believed that our live music-led style could encourage new audiences to get excited about Shakespeare. And, after some brilliant feedback on our work-in-progress performances in Bath (from the RSC, amongst others), we decided to take the piece on and develop it into a summer festival show.
We’re now working on a brand new piece called ‘Unplugged’, based on a small town pub’s Open Mic night. That piece will premiere in Edinburgh in August, alongside a run of ‘Midnight at the Boar’s Head’. We’re then planning a tour of pub venues for both shows in 2013.
What’s your favourite theatre show ever (excluding your own) and why?
The two pieces that have had the strongest influence on Fine Chisel’s recent work are actually both performing at Brighton Fringe: ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart’ by David Greig/National Theatre of Scotland, and Little Bulb’s ‘Operation Greenfield’. Both of these shows feature live bands. In fact, they both feature musicians as central characters, which allows for a really thorough blend of musicianship and storytelling (something we’re always trying to achieve).
‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart’ is a beautiful, haunting, deceptively simple folk story told through very clever (and often hilarious) verse and brilliant live music.
‘Operation Greenfield’ is a tender, wonderfully quirky exploration of the awkwardness of youth. All of Fine Chisel grew up playing in bands, drinking squash and gigging in village halls… so it feels very close to home.