The Greatest Theatrical Event…EVER! written by Joe Janes, Lori McClain, and Ric Walker, performed by all three, is coming to Edinburgh’s Fringe this August. Joe spoke with The Fountain about what we can expect from this grand offering and their plans for the Fringe.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?

IT’S SO EXCITING I AM USING ALL CAPS TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION! This is my third time going to Edinburgh with a show at the Fringe. I went another time during my spring break to see what it was like un-Fringed. It was also very wonderful. 

TF: The Greatest Theatrical Event…EVER! certainly sounds promising, what is the premise?

The Grand Carlysle Theater is celebrating its 100th Anniversary and three theater historians with specialties in different eras present segments from famous (horrible fictional) shows as well as a few saucey backstage scenes. How do they do that? Ghosts, of course! It’s a thin excuse for three comedians to play multiple characters while having a great time making fun of actors and theater.

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie? 

The director and I brought a play over in 2017 called Our Christian Nation that was a dark, biting satire about the current enmeshment in the United States between politics and religion. It was a blast, but also had a huge cast and a few trunks full of props and costumes. Our lodging was eleven people crammed into a room at a hostel. We decided last fall that we wanted to come back, but decided to write a show specifically to premiere at The Fringe. It’s a three-hander because we wanted to keep the production aspects small. We chose to focus on theatre because “write what you know”. Our last show was also a mix of people in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. This time, we wanted to only work with peers and colleagues. We started with a handful of theater-related sketches that I wrote and all three of us created our own historian character. Our main criteria was to have fun on stage; we get to sing, tell vaudeville jokes, do circus acts, use questionable dialects. It’s scary to bring a show that hasn’t been tested with a proper run, but we’ve been having a great time putting it together. WE’RE VERY EXCITED!

TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?

Tips for first-timers – Well, first and foremost, see as many shows as possible. Some of the best shows I have seen at The Fringe came when I had some time to kill and just walked into a venue to see what was playing. Our venue is at Paradise-Green in St. Augustine’s and they are wonderful people to partner with. They let performers see the other shows that are playing. You bet I’ll see all the shows I can there. 

Bring a strong pair of hiking shoes. Get out and explore. Edinburgh is a great town for walking. Many great restaurants, museums, and landmarks. See the castle, of course. If you enjoy scotch, check out The Scotch Whisky Experience. Part of the “experience” is riding in a barrel through a distillery. It’s Drunk Disney. My favorite place to eat is called Union of Genius near the University of Edinburgh, not far from St. Augustine’s. They make all kinds of delicious soup. You can buy a flight of soup!!! Grab some friends and hike up Arthur’s Seat. Download the Bus & Tram schedule and an M-Tickets app so you can hop on a double-decker bus when you get tired of walking. 

I’ll re-visit all these places, especially the castle. When I went, I made the mistake of going an hour before closing and it just wasn’t enough time. They have a great audio tour. We also have two dark days during the festival. I recall a place on the Royal Mile that offered day trips. I would love to go see Glasgow and Islay. 

TF: And what are your future plans beyond The Greatest Theatrical Event…EVER! ? 

The director, one of the actors, and I all teach at Columbia College Chicago. Once we get back, we’ll look at the possibility of doing a run of the show in Chicago. One of the other reasons we are going is because the Fringe offers many learning experiences. There will also be a group of grad students there from our theater department and another group that’s from marketing and business. We’re looking to continue to build bridges between our college and the rest of the world. We hope to make Edinburgh an annual adventure. I would also like to live there. Will you marry me? Must like cats. 

You can see The Greatest Theatrical Event…Ever! at Paradise in the Vault from 2nd – 25th August (not 11th or 18th August) at 20:30pm. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com