Sunday August 26th, 2012
It must be said, this Fringe adventure would never have happened if Glenn and I hadn't attended a 1989 Edinburgh Fringe performance of 'Withering Looks', a brilliant and ridiculously funny play written by that dynamic duo Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, also known as LipService. They are actors, writers and producers, based out of Manchester, England. In 1989 Glenn and I were driving around the Yorkshire Dales, and we visited Haworth (the home of the Bronte sisters). The Bronte's grew up in a parsonage next to a large, very grim cemetery. Oh, and the moors. The windy heather filled moors. The moors are right there, on display, in full view. You can actually see the couch that Anne died on. And Emily or Charlotte's dress is on display. They were TINY.
And they all died..... quite young. How could someone turn their lives into a comedy?
Well, Maggie and Sue did. BRILLIANTLY.
I really have never laughed so much at a play in my life! When we got back to Minnesota we'd often talk about 'Withering Looks' and how funny it was. It was a 'no-brainer' as to what play to produce when Snapdragon Theatre was born. I contacted Maggie and Sue (via snail mail, which now seems like the pony express.) After a few back and forth letters, we arranged a royalty payment, and they sent me the script. I'm astonished at my boldness. It's a blessing to be ignorant sometimes. Those ladies are MASTERS of the sly glance, the effective pause, the allowing the audience to be PART of the play. An important part. Comic timing? Oh, my goodness. They have it in SPADES. But the writing..... their writing... is really good. Even in the hands of someone less experienced, their writing can save the day. So, to make a long story longer.... we produced 'Withering Looks' and it went really well. Of course it didn't hurt that we were able to hire Melissa Denton. One of the funniest actors I've had the privilege to work with. The show went well, and we even took it on tour. (Lanesboro, and Pipestone, Minnesota).
Producing is never easy, there's a million details that you need to remember, and when something goes wrong..... well, you're in charge. You need to fix it. Every actor needs to produce something. It makes you a better employee. That experience taught me so much. It especially taught me that women need to take the reins sometimes. They need to produce work that seems worthwhile to them. Otherwise we're only hearing what men have to say.
So..... we've had our final Edinburgh Fringe show of 'The Property Known As Garland'. It went really well. Full house. One member of the audience had actually worked with Marlene Dietrich and she laughed in ALL the right places. But the thing that meant the most to me..... the element that makes my heart swell just to think of it. Maggie and Sue were in the audience.
They drove up from Manchester, with Sue's son Oliver and Maggie's daughter Imogen.
It's inconceivable to me that after all these years, they would be there to watch me perform at the Fringe. I am so blessed, and so thankful. So tonight, I raise my glass of Hobgoblin (at the Auld Hoose) to the ladies of LipService. Thank you Maggie and Sue for setting such a wonderful example, for women and girls everywhere. You rock! And that's not the Hobgoblin talking.