Meet Emma Lister, Co-Creator of EdFringe’s ‘Insomniac’s Fable’

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Insomniac's Fable
Make//Shift Company. Insomniac's Fable. Jackson's Lane. Image credit: Patrick Baldwin

Insomniac’s Fable blends ballet, juggling and psychedelic design to create a Hitchcockian love story that subverts the classic “boy meets dream girl” narrative. Created by ballet dancer Emma Lister and contemporary artist Sakari Männistö, it will be performed at Edinburgh Fringe as part of Start to Finnish, an annual showcase presented at the festival that showcases some of Finland’s best performing arts. The Indiependent spoke to Emma Lister ahead of Edinburgh Fringe to learn more about the production.

The Indiependent: What’s the premise of your show?

Emma Lister: It’s a loose narrative about dreams–like the dreams you have when you’re asleep, but also “dream” in the sense of aspirations and ideals…an ideal person especially, a dream girl. Then, what would happen if this dream person was able to respond?

The art of print making and woodcut techniques partly inspired your production. How are these included in the show?

Print making is about mirror imaging, you carve an image in a block of wood and make an impression with a piece of paper…it’s the same image, but different. Opposite, and different with every print. This fits with our question about searching for a dream partner. We use projections to fill the stage with the woodcuts images by Angela Annesley.

What do you hope the audience will take away from your show?

This is one of the main things we asked ourselves, we whittled it down to: catharsis. 

How are you feeling about this year’s Fringe?

Intimidated, excited and tired just thinking about it! We went last year as punters and it seemed pretty full even though numbers were still down from the pandemic…I wonder what this year will be like?

Who inspires you?

In terms of this piece, all the collaborators. We try to work non-hierarchically in the studio, everyone can make a suggestion about any aspect of the piece. If you pick the right people, this is a great way to work. Always fruitful. Outside of the studio, I’ve heard someone say this piece is like a David Lynch movie, so maybe him? Subconsciously?

What’s next for you after the Fringe?

I have a podcast called MOVERS SHAKERS MAKERS, and I have a mini series on the use of ballet in horror films coming out in October that I’m excited about. As for Insomniac’s Fable, hopefully we’ll get lots more gigs from this run at the Fringe.

Insomniac’s Fable will be performed at Summerhall – Cairns Lecture Theatre from 11-27 August (not 14, 21) at 11am as part of Edinburgh Fringe.

Words by Ellen Leslie


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