Meet Harry Daisley, Director Of EdFringe’s ‘All Is Pink In West Berkshire County’

all is pink poster image
All Is Pink In West Berkshire County

Aireborne Theatre’s All Is Pink In West Berkshire County will transport the audience to a dinner party held in Berkshire’s finest estate. Eve Abbey has brought her boyfriend Rory McDonnell home for dinner, but in a dark twist, it turns out there may be something…unexpected on the menu. The Indiependent spoke to writer and director Harry Daisley about what inspired the production, and how he is feeling about his Fringe debut.

The Indiependent: What is the premise of your show?
Daisley: All is Pink in West Berkshire County follows the imperious Abbey family welcoming a new addition into their stately home for Christmas dinner—their daughter’s new boyfriend, Rory. The play is set in the near future where all meat consumption has been banned by the state. Rory, being from a less affluent background is met by ridicule and isolation from Mr and Mrs Abbey over dinner. Conversation of class, morality and complicity dance around the dinner table until the family’s cravings get the best of them—they need meat, and they need it now. The question is, where will they get it from..?

What inspired All is Pink in West Berkshire County?
I grew up in Berkshire. My father and mother moved from Scotland and Bradford respectively as young adults to settle there and start a family. It really is a lovely place indeed—it boasts outstanding natural beauty, Windsor Castle and Ascot racecourse. Like all regions, Berkshire is complex, though from my perspective it has a poignantly splashy character which has been a spring of inspiration for this script. I developed a particular cynicism towards the ‘spirit’ of my county as an angsty teenager: the garish, the grandiose, and I think the script is an echo of this. When it came to putting pen to paper, it felt natural to place both my parents’ and my own Berkshire-related stories into a socio-political context. A key point of inspiration was the phrase “eat the rich”, which gets thrown around a lot (mostly ironically) by my friends. I rolled it around my head for some days when workshopping characters before deciding to flip it round. “Eat the Poor”—that
was the original working title of the script. And from there, it kind of just wrote itself. I had a narrative. I had the characters. I had a setting. Before I knew it, I had something in front of me that felt rather exciting.

How are you feeling about this year’s Fringe?
I am feeling this bubbling cocktail of fear, excitement, pride, love, and more fear! I have never been to the Fringe, however it has been a long-term goal of mine to feature in the line-up ever since I wrote my first play at fourteen. My GCSE drama teacher and I sat down and set a target that I’d debut at the festival as a teenager. I turn twenty midway through our run so I will (kind of) fulfil that which is a very nice feeling. The festival is known for its high calibre of art and theatre and I’m excited to see other creatives and writers in action. Most of all, cannot wait to share the hard work of the All is Pink team. The cast and production team are wildly talented and I am thrilled this will all be showcased on such a big, international platform.

Did you face any challenges when creating the show?
I get terrible writer’s block and am my own worst enemy when writing dialogue as I tend to scrutinize every single line to death. Strangely, this did not happen during the writing process for All is Pink. I really tried to tap into the irreverent side of my writing and avoid editing until the very end. I almost just word vomited onto the page, writing furiously in some kind of frenzy until all creativity dried up. I would then come back to edit a few days later and just think “what the hell is this?” but I kept going and refining until I distilled all the chaos into something somewhat coherent.

There was a point, though, where I almost abandoned the script. Around midway through the writing process, I made up my mind that it was too risky of a concept to propose for the Fringe Festival—too weird and too on the nose and that no one was going to want to see a play so grisly. But when I left it for a week or so, I found that missed the characters and I missed the chaos. Instead, I convinced myself that this is what the Fringe is for—taking risks and embracing all the weird and wonderful, and that rationale has led me here!

What is it like directing a black comedy?
Black comedies are interesting because they tend to have so many layers to them. The very nature of a black comedy is to take something known to be upsetting or unsettling and present it in a (hopefully) funny and arguably more palatable way. Therefore, it has been important to me to establish a good balance between humour and exploration in the rehearsal room. We spent the first week of rehearsals workshopping themes and dramatic practitioners so that we were all grounded in the political context of the story. From then on out, it really has been an actor-led process. The cast have thrown themselves into their characters so beautifully and continue to evolve the script each rehearsal we have. This has allowed us to really push to cooky, absurd elements of the play even further. I just know the final product is going to be wild.

What’s next for Aireborne Theatre?
While I cannot comment on the future of All is Pink in West Berkshire County, I know Aireborne Theatre will continue to debut exciting new writing at the Fringe in years to come, aiming to push boundaries and excel in all forms of contemporary story telling. We also hope to make our productions even more accessible, allowing everyone to enjoy their work and reach brand new audiences.

All Is Pink In West Berkshire County will be performed at theSpace @ Symposium Hall from 12-26 August at 5:05pm.

Words by Ellen Leslie

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