On Saturday the 30th of September, I had the chance to head over to our Uni’s Concert Hall to chat to a new theatre company with a bright future. They’re called Epilogue Theatre, and after watching them rehearse their upcoming production of Dani Girl, I got the chance to interview Peter Robson, the director of the show and the founder of Epilogue Theatre.
CP: So, to kick us off, tell me how this all began.
PR: It was about a year ago. Steven, the assistant director, and I went to see a production of Dani Girl at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We instantly fell in love with the show, and we decided then and there that we had to put the show on ourselves.
CP: So the company actually formed around this show?
PR: Exactly. It started with the purpose of putting on the show, then as more thought and planning went into the idea, we came up with Epilogue Theatre. We wanted to start a company that would put on some less-well-known theatre, and theatre that has a strong meaning to it. The aim is to put something on that people will actually take something away from.
CP: Maybe they’ll be inspired to start a theatre company?
PR: Exactly! And that then grew to us deciding that as much as we put on shows, we also really wanted to angle it towards charities, ones that we could link to the shows we put on. So, for Dani Girl we have…
CP: Logan’s Fund
PR: Exactly. It’s a Scottish children’s cancer charity. They do many things, but in particular what they do is they organize what they call “Rainy Days”, which are essentially days-out for families who have children who are suffering from cancer. The aim is to give these kids a chance to go out and enjoy their childhood as much as anyone else.
CP: And I think it’s great that you’re already thinking about this kind of thing before you’ve even put on your first show. Like you’ve said, you want to involve charities within the same thematic vein of the shows that you do, and you’ve certainly done that here. With Dani Girl, what was the thought process that lead to you forming a company rather than pitching your idea to STaG or the Cecilian Society?
PR: Mostly because we wanted a company that is tailored to the kind of show that we put on. It’s only a small production, four cast members, whereas with the Cecilian Society they specialize in open chorus productions. It also just gives us the artistic freedom to do what we like with the show, and the freedom to choose where we want to put it on. We also wanted to make this something that goes beyond university, something that, though student friendly, isn’t solely based around students themselves. However, it also comes with some difficulties.
CP: Mainly being that you don’t have the funding that you’d get if you put a show on through the university. How are you guys going about fundraising?
PR: We actually already have all of the money we need to put on the show.
PR: I’m currently a medical student, but I took a year out last year to go and earn some money, and I worked full time. I managed to save up enough over that time to be able to put on the show.
CP: That’s amazing!
PR: It won’t be enough to keep us going, but we’re going to be very shrewd with our budgeting, keep our productions small, so that we can continue to put stuff on.
CP: I’ve also noticed that you have managed to get a sponsor for the company, would you like to tell me a bit about them?
PR: So , we’re sponsored by Landsdowne Bar, something that only came into development a week or two ago. They hosted an information evening for us, and we then got an email a few days later saying they were looking to sponsor student theatre companies. And while we said that we’re a charity and not technically a student company, they still offered to sponsor us.
CP: I guess it helps to have a good cause! Back to Dani Girl, I gave the script a read through the other day, and it struck me how the show so seamlessly clashes something so finite like mortality and something as infinite as a child’s sense of hope and imagination. Wonderful in the way that it comes off, but horribly tragic at the same time. What was the reasoning behind you wanting to put this show on with students in mind?
PR: I think the overarching theme over the show is hope. As you say, it’s a very dark situation, but it’s being approached through a child’s eye, in a way that is beautiful and in a way endearing. It’s a powerful and enriching experience, I think that anyone, regardless of the age, can take away from it and apply it to him or herself.
CP: If someone so young can make a positive turn on such a dire situation, then what gives us the right to wallow in self-pity?
PR: Exactly, everyone goes through tough times in their life, but you can guarantee that someone else has been through worse and made it through. If we can take a leaf out of those people’s books then I think we can all take that step to being that much happier.
CP: Do you think that you’ll stick to musicals?
PR: Not necessarily, I think that while musicals are where our current team’s expertise lie, I hope that in the future new people will come and pitch ideas. If someone comes along with a play that fits our style, can be linked towards a certain charity, then it makes no difference if it’s a musical or not.
CP: Do you see this production, or any other production you put on for that matter, going beyond Glasgow?
PR: As for now there are no plans of that sort, it depends on what happens really…
CP: Is there a Fringe Festival in mind?
PR: I’d definitely love to do the Fringe, but maybe in a few years time. I think we need to spend some time setting ourselves up here. Set up something stable, make sure that we’re getting a turnover, and then we can think about tackling the beast that is the Fringe. Our current plan is to do two shows a year, and then maybe take the May production that we do somewhere down the line.
CP: That’s definitely a very healthy outlook to have, to know that you have to solidify yourself locally before getting any ideas of grandeur. Do you see this company travelling with you wherever you go, or will the company march on when your time with it is up?
PR: The company will stay in Glasgow regardless of where I am, the board will change and new people will come in. I would always like to keep ties with Epilogue, as it’s something that I hold very close and I’m extremely proud of it, however I ultimately want whatever’s best for the company.
CP: I think that’s a very mature decision, you want the company to flourish and you don’t want it to be held back at any point.
PR: And that’s why we have the board. We have myself holding a producer a role, Julia Boardman as the Chair, our treasurer is Parissa Imani-Rad, secretary is Kate Hughes, and our head of publicity and media is Alex Lamont. Most committee boards are much bigger, but we manage to cover all bases with the roles that we have. We aim to distinguish between how the company is run and how the show is run, so there will never be a director of a show who also happens to be on the board. This time round is an exception as it’s our first show, but going forward that’s how we will operate.
CP: Very wise, too. And to round the interview off, I’ll quickly let you plug the show.
PR: Do our show, Dani Girl, will be running from 30 November to 2 December, that’s the Thursday, Friday and the Saturday. It’ll be at the Edwin Morgan Studio Theatre at the Scottish Youth Theatre, and tickets are £10; the proceeds of which will be going to the Logan Fund, in addition to the fundraising we will be doing as well.
CP: That’s fantastic, thank you very much for taking the time out of rehearsal to chat with us over at the Glasgow Guardian, and all the best for the next few weeks.
PR: Thank you!
Epilogue have a fantastically fun dynamic to their process, at glance it seems as if a group of friends are singing songs and playing games together, but this is a company that is focussed on it’s product, and the level of quality that I was witness to as I watched the group rehearse is exciting. I am personally looking forward to seeing the finished product of what is a very dedicated young theatre company.