Jolie will be sharing her thoughts, reflections and experiences throughout the Fringe.
Thursday 14th July 2016
My name is Jolie Booth and I’m a theatre practitioner by trade, though I’ve spent the last four years mainly producing. I produced Backstage in Biscuit Land forTouretteshero and the three Scientrilogy shows for Tangram Theatre. This is the first time I have ever taken my own show to the Edinburgh Fringe and I’m extremely exciting and terrified in equal measures. But what is the show about I hear you ask. Well let me tell you a bit more…
HIP by Jolie Booth
A bunch of semi-hip young squatters find a once hip woman’s long-forgotten possessions in an empty flat above some shops. A true story of hedonism, drugs, mortality, sexuality, choices and enlightenment.
***** Broadway Baby ‘extremely funny…painfully and breathtakingly sad’
**** Fringe Guru ‘Booth treats Anne with a respectful curiosity and affection…’
**** The Reviews Hub ‘engaging style and easy rapport with the audience holds the piece together’
Total Theatre ‘hugely enjoyable, engaging and at times profound’
Fringe Review – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ‘Hip is a must see show’
HIP explores the life of both an ordinary and extra-ordinary woman called Anne Clarke and what happened to her in the 1970’s and 80’s. Theatre practitioner Jolie Booth discovered Anne’s diaries and letters when squatting her house fifteen years ago, unearthing a huge archive about Anne, the city they’ve both lived in and experiences they’ve shared.
Hip is an extra-live show. This means it’s a relaxed performance where everyone is welcome and you can move around, comment on the action and make noise.
Jolie only ever manages to scratch the surface of Anne’s life during the hour long show, a lifetime that was rich in hedonism, counterculture, sexual exploration and alternative health, so rather than trying to cover the whole of Anne’s life the idea of the performance is to create a safe space where the audience can respond to points of interest: Anne’s big decisions, demise and death. Using Anne’s story as a touch paper, Jolie and the audience explore their own lives, thinking about choices they’ve made, how they hope to grow old and how they’d like to be remembered when they themselves are gone.
As the material is vast and because every audience is unique, each show is completely different.
The story so far…
The show came about after I was invited to participate in the Arcade of Fools at the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2015. In the early noughties I’d produced and trained at the Nomadic Academy for Fools created by the world famous fool Jonathan Kay. Fooling is a form of improvisation that puts the audience at the centre of the work and I spent six years training in this technique. After leaving the fools I hadn’t performed for four or five years, so the invitation to take an hour long slot at the Arcade of Fools seemed like a message from the universe that it was time to get back on my performing horse. But what to do with an hour? I thought about themes that were important to me at the time and whether these might also be interesting to an audience, but I also wanted to avoid doing an hour long show about myself. The best work from my favourite performers, people like Bryony Kimmings and Brian Lobel, have been when the focus was on other people and not on themselves. It all comes through the prism of the performer anyway, so doesn’t need to be about the performer. That’s when I thought about Anne’s box of stuff.
Ever since leaving the squat fifteen years ago I’d been carrying Anne’s box of letters and diaries around with me to each house I’d lived in. It was the first thing to go up in the loft every time I moved in and was the one thing I definitely wanted still from the loft every time we moved out. She has lived with me in ten locations around Brighton and moved with me to London and Berlin. It was about time I did something with it all. I’d had a look through the box when we’d been squatting her house. We were interested in who had owned the timecapsule we had happened upon. But we didn’t delve too deeply and created a mythology out of the scraps we had gleaned. Like my housemate told me he’d read somewhere that she’d had a hip replacement (she hadn’t), which meant we came to believe that the hip bone that was on her shelves in the livingroom was her hip bone (it’s actually an animal’s pelvic bone). This was the only item I ever kept down from the loft as I moved from house to house. Anne’s hip bone always lived on my mantlepiece. I also believed she’d been a sad alcoholic and that her life had been a tragedy.
But as I finally started to read through her box of letters and diaries I realised that her life had been amazing. She’d been a terribly exciting human being who didn’t do things by half and wanted to taste all that life had to offer. Someone who was just like me. And serendipity began to flow. As my team of friends and I started looking through the bits of paper, funny little bubbles of magic kept popping to the surface; like the discovery of the record we’d just been reading about that she’d bought in Greece was hiding in the sleeve of a Sex Pistols single. And my friend asking why Anne kept mentioning ‘Infinity’ in her diaries only for me to realise she must have been talking about Infinity Foods, an organic vegetarian food co-op set up in the seventies and that’s still open and much loved today. I’d even carried the box of Anne’s letters to the meeting in an Infinity Food’s totes bag. It all felt right and the production has organically unfurled in a gently magical way; forever meeting new people who knew her, discovering a poem to Anne framed on the wall of a pub in town, finding out about all the places she worked around Brighton and meeting her daughter, who gave me and the show a big thumbs up.
Next I’m doing a rewrite with a non-Brighton audience in mind and am taking the production to Manchester’s Dancehouse Theatre as a pre-Edinburgh showing in a week’s time. I’m meeting Emma Kilbey this Monday to help me with the rewrite, who is supporting me as an outside eye and a critical friend. I’ll also hopefully have a chance to see Brian Lobel before the off as well. As things move on I’ll update you with how they go and hopefully… See you in Edinburgh. Whoop whoop!