Monday, 20 August 2012

Guest Blogspot: Elton Townend-Jones on 'Female Gothic'



Here's a special guest blog - from Elton Townend-Jones, who's writing today about 'Female Gothic', his show in Edinburgh, which is playing at the Fringe this very moment.

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Hello!  And welcome to Not Paul Magrs!  This entry comes to you from a stranger, but it’s okay – I’m the kind of stranger you’re allowed to talk to.  Who am I?  Well, I’m a writer, actor, journalist and – today – theatre producer for Dyad Productions and I’m beaming myself onto your screens directly from the sunny (which is plain wrong) Edinburgh Fringe.  What am I doing here?  Okay, okay, I’m script editing and producing a play called Female Gothic at the Fringe and a few months ago I invited Mr Magrs along to see it.  Paul was keen – as the subject matter was right up his creepy street – but now, alas, conflicting schedules have made this auspicious meeting unlikely if not impossible.  Boo.

In kind recompense, Paul has offered me the unlooked for but utterly delightful opportunity to shamelessly plug the play (written and performed by Rebecca Vaughan, the other half of Dyad).  This is our fourth play in as many years.  In 2009 we presented Austen’s Women a one-woman show about… well, you work it out.  In 2010, we presented I, Elizabeth a play about the young Liz 1, and last year we performed my anglicised stage version of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam & Eve (to be published in early 2013).  All these shows continue to tour successfully in the UK and internationally and we have big plans ahead, but for now we’ve returned with a trio of Victorian ‘ghost stories’…


Over two centuries on, we still love gothic fiction and revel in tales of the mysterious and macabre.  The gothic tradition can be traced back to writers such as Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve and Ann Radcliffe, but it was the Victorians and Edwardians who took the gothic baton and ran with it.  In Penny Dreadfuls and respected periodicals, eerie tales of the unknown became best-sellers, and in this environment female writers began to thrive.  Around 85% of such tales were written by women seeking to give voice to their concerns, such as suppressed sexuality, monstrosity, motherhood and transgression of societal norms.  These female writers deliberately abandoned the social realist novels of the day to explore controversial and taboo topics; taking advantage of the subversive properties of gothic fantasy to develop themes of physical and psychological alienation as well as national and temporal isolation.  Sadly, these writers have been much neglected and almost ignored over the years, so Female Gothic sets that straight, prominently featuring the work of M E Braddon and E Nesbitt, alongside a collage of bridging material from several other such writers of the period – all of which has been filtered through Rebecca and me as we honed and finely tooled the originals to work on stage and offer maximum chills.

The reviews have been great so far – four Five Star reviews and five Four Star reviews – and the audience response has exceeded all our hopes.  If you like some of the stuff Paul likes then you’re going to love Female Gothic – so if you’re in Edinburgh between now and the 27th August, come and see us and then you can all tell Paul what he missed!  We’re on at the Assembly Festival, George Square venue Three at 11.45am daily.  We’d love to scare you.

Thanks, Paul – very much appreciated.
‘A macabre masterpiece, every aspect of this production comes together perfectly, and a spectacularly enthralling performance from Vaughan lifts it to awesome heights. Ghostly, grisly and gorgeous, this show is as fantastic as it is phantasmic. Don’t miss it. 5 STARS’ Three Weeks





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