Interview With…Bridie Bischoff

Producer Bridie Bischoff spoke to Emma Clarendon about what Atticist Productions has in store for audiences. 

(c) Sarah J. Cornelius 

Thank you so much for talking to me. Could you tell me a bit more about what Atticist have got planned in terms of productions? We’re very excited about 2019. We’re aiming to do at least one revival (something that we think is relevant but hasn’t been staged in a while), and we have two pieces of new writing in active development. David Doyle and our artistic director Jessica Lazar ran some brilliant R&D sessions this year on a show we hope to get out in the first half of 2019. It’s a powerful documentary theatre piece based on David’s extensive original research into the murders of three gay men in Ireland in 1982. It explores a foundational moment in LGBTQ history, as well as sparking questions about the power of community history. What is remembered? What is forgotten? What is misremembered – and why? The second piece we’re developing is more rooted in the fantastical and won’t be shy of a puppet or two.

Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to showing audiences? As a small, independent company we balance other freelance work alongside Atticist projects so in all honesty we’re excited to show audiences everything we get the chance to create and to stage. One thing we are looking forward to is showing audiences more about us as a company – our style and our interests, and what window you might find yourself looking through when you come and see one of our shows. Life According to Saki and EAST are very different plays but those who saw both productions might appreciate why they each made sense to us. So I suppose what I’m saying is we’re looking forward to showing audiences what we’re about. Showing rather than telling.

For those who aren’t familiar with the company and the work you do – could you tell me a bit more about Atticist? We started by collaborating on a casual basis and the company grew organically from that. Simply put, we liked working together and wanted to do it more. Our first production, Life According to Saki, won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe and then transferred to Off-Broadway in 2017. That production gave us confidence that we were on the right tracks – even though we didn’t know, and still don’t completely know, where those tracks led! This year, our production of Steven Berkoff’s EAST at the King’s Head Theatre was nominated for five Offies, following which the King’s Head made us an associate company – a huge compliment from such a stalwart champion of fringe theatre.

What direction do you think Atticist will take in terms of the work it produces in the future? We want our work to express the ideas we see within each play as truthfully and as inventively as we can. And ideally, we want to create a supportive environment for emerging theatre practitioners to experiment, and to challenge us and themselves. As such, I think our direction will be defined by our collaborations, along with the changing landscapes we find ourselves in. And even if the thing we’re making is very serious, we think theatre should be fun – for both creators and spectators – so we hope to keep it that way.

How do you think the company will build on the success it has already achieved with productions such as Life According to Saki and East? One of the best things about both of those productions has been the relationships we’ve taken from them — creative, professional, and personal. The other relationship is with the audience. The hope would be for audiences who enjoyed those shows to stay with us, and for that relationship to grow as well.

We also have ideas we would love to bring to the stage once we have the foundation and funding to put on plays with larger casts. At present, the reality is that it is very difficult to do scripts with more than six cast members if we are committed, as we are, to paying those involved at Equity fringe rates. That’s one of the reasons Atticist has produced two shows since we came together in 2015 – Life According to Saki and EAST both had casts of six, and it takes time to make that achievable.

By Emma Clarendon 

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