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Guffy - Edfringe 2023

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras believed that 3 was the perfect number; significant and representative of harmony and wisdom. The rule of three and its magic extends throughout philosophy and mythology and is often associated with women and their power - for good or ill. Consider Clotho and her sisters, and their proxies in the Witches of Macbeth, concerned with fate and destiny. And, of course, the triple goddesses Maiden, Mother and Crone, the pillars of the female life cycle. In Guffy, by Glenna Morrison, we enter the world of another significant female 3 - that of Guffy, Alba, and the Bairn, locked together in Alloa, they are three generations of women, shouting viscerally to a nation that has left them behind.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? What can audiences expect when they come to see your performance?

Anyone coming to see Guffy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can expect a very intimate, intense step into the world of Guffy, Alba and the Bairn. These are three women from three generations of an Alloa family; born and bred there. Guffy represents the present and contemporary problems that women face, Alba represents the past; the past hurdles, the past obstacles, and the Bairn represents the future. They co-exist in the bottom end of Alloa, which is a tough area to live in. It’s seen locally as a dumping ground; somewhere perceived as a place that society’s “no hopers” and “last chances” are left. It’s a very difficult place for people to thrive. Guffy has suffered from childhood trauma, Alba has dementia, and the Bairn is caught up in the maelstrom of their own life, so these three women are coming from three very different angles. Anyone watching this show will be engrossed in the struggles between them.

The Edinburgh Fringe is known for its vibrant and diverse atmosphere. How do you plan to engage with the festival audience and create a memorable experience for them?

The last time I was at the Edinburgh Fringe was as a performer, when I did Trainspotting, 25 years ago! My experience of it was wonderful. Very embracing. I was a very strong headed woman, (hot-headed, possibly), in my early 20s and I wanted to take it all on. I want to engage with the audiences for Guffy in the same way; I want them to feel free to express themselves and as such, we’ve arranged relaxed performances for those with additional support needs. I want the diverse spectrum of audiences who want to experience Edinburgh Fringe shows to be able to come, they can speak during the show, they can move around, they can come and go, and engage with the Guffy environment in the way that feels right for them. We are also doing a captioned performance; Claire Hill is going to do some captions for us on the 17th of August. Guffy is written in the Alloa vernacular, so it’s a very thick dialect. This will be toned down ever so slightly for the Edinburgh Festival, just so that everyone can understand it, but we will still retain the depth and guttural, visceral quality of that language. 

We also wanted to do something for the visually impaired and have arranged a touch tour on the 21st August, taking place half an hour before the show. Anyone who is visually impaired can come before the show, talk to the actors, talk with us about the play, interact with the set, and gain a more rounded feel for the show. 

As a performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, what are you most excited about? Are there any specific aspects of the festival that you are looking forward to exploring?

The thing I am most excited about is returning after 25 years and to see how the Fringe experience has changed. As a woman, is it a positive environment for me? Is it something I am going to enjoy? I’m really looking forward to meeting other performers, quite specifically, other female performers. I’m in contact with another all female production which is also part of the Edinburgh National Partnership. The Edinburgh National Partnership is a combined effort with the Pleasance Theatre in London and six large producing houses from across the UK and we are the one that represents Scotland, with Pitlochry Festival Theatre, and there is another production, that is an all-female play, being co-presented with Belfast Lyric, and it’s called Half Moon. So I am in discussions with them to create a female-strong, female-led co-promotion.

Your show incorporates elements of feminism and women's experiences. Could you share how these themes are woven into the narrative or performance? What inspired you to explore these particular topics?

I think women’s experiences are at the core of all my work. I come from a slightly difficult background; my Mother was always very low in self-esteem. Because of that experience, I really want to help women realise their own capabilities and to embrace the fact that they have a voice. To speak, if they can, about their issues. To help each other; the kindness and camaraderie you can find with women is second to none and I really believe that that is the way that women can step into this industry, with a really strong and vibrant core, and express themselves. Many women that I have loved and lost have been fighters, they’ve been very stoic, they’ve been very strong, not people to ever give up. That’s really what inspired me to explore Guffy’s topics and narrative. 

Have you encountered any unique challenges or obstacles in the industry? How do you navigate these challenges, and what advice would you give to other women pursuing careers in the arts?

I came into acting in the late 80s and challenges included being boxed in by male expectations, experiencing the male gaze, my body was more important than my voice, my face more important than my thoughts, and these are things I experienced across the profession. I’ve always tried to diversify my roles, so as to not be hemmed in. I’m a large breasted lady and I don’t always want to be the barmaid, the prostitute or the buxom friend!  So I’ve tried not to take on these types of roles, one after the other, which I think I’ve managed to achieve. I would encourage other women coming into the industry to listen to their inner voice, to who they really want to be or want to express, and to try and be strong enough to express those feelings. Dig your heels in if you need to. Take on your own demons, we all have them, and if that helps you express who you are, then that’s wonderful. 

What do you hope audiences will take away from your show, especially in terms of the feminist and women-centric themes? Is there a specific message or emotion you aim to leave them with?

I want Guffy to speak to a younger generation of women, and my own generation, and explore the difficulties that lie within the female society, but also the strength and the unity that exist, side by side.  

Introduction and edit by Louise Oliver (Editor, Persistent and Nasty Blog)

Show Details

Date(s): 2nd - 28th August

Time: 3pm

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard

Twitter: @GlennaScacchi

Instagram: @GuffyPleasance


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