Tales from the Garden is a play about being a young woman, not knowing your place, being broken, trying to fix yourself, being haunted, being stolen, being free, asking God to help you, trying to help yourself, hiding, running, sewing, screaming, hoping. In her first one-woman show, Ameera Conrad explores the joys and traumas of being a young woman raised in a world that makes women targets for aggression and violence and it will be running in Assembly Rooms for the duration of the Fringe. Ameera spoke with The Fountain about the premise of the show as well as her top tips for any first-time performers.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how excited are you?
I’m super excited! I had the wonderful opportunity to come to the Assembly Fringe in 2017 for the first time as part of the company of The Fall through the Baxter theatre, and I had the most incredible time in Edinburgh. I’m really looking forward to being in the city again, seeing some amazing work, and getting to share my story with artists and audiences from all over the world!
TF: Tales from the Garden certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Tales is storytelling at its rawest form. It’s not about frills and extravaganzas, but rather about stripping everything down to the story and the character. It follows the story of a young mixed-race South African woman who’s trying to figure out how to exist in a world where she’s a target for violence. She’s wading through post-Apartheid South Africa, and still trying to be a citizen of the world, but she has to do that while dealing with the trauma of sexual assault and not feeling able to talk about it because she comes from a conservative and religious family.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
The real force behind creating this project was me as a writer and as a performer trying to deal with sexual assault and patriarchy, and not knowing exactly how to do that other than to create a play about it. I didn’t want it to be all about South Africa’s demons, but I wanted to shed a bit of light on the fact that as young women, a lot of us don’t feel safe even in seemingly safe situations, and highlight the fact that assault is more common than a lot of people want to believe.
Creatively I am influenced by so many things! But I think that my favourite plays are always ones that centre the stories of marginalised voices; especially women of colour.
TF: Having been at the Fringe before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers? Is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
I’m so excited by the incredible range of work that’s being performed at Fringe this year; I can’t wait to see a few shows and connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world! It sounds really cheesy, but I have made some life-long friends through the Fringe, and I’m super keen to make some more!
My number one tip for anyone performing or even visiting is to make sure you take your vitamins and drink your Hot Toddy’s! There’s nothing worse than the flu interrupting you while you’re living your best life at fest. Oh! And try not to overload your schedule with stuff – always make time for a cup of tea with friends.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Tales from the Garden?
I’m really looking forward to creating new work around the world. I’ve been collaborating with some very talented artists in London and other parts of the UK, so the prospect of being able to home in on those projects in the future is what’s keeping me on the grind. I’d love to just keep creating and spend more time directing! I got to devise and direct an engaging new work at Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the beginning of the year, so I’d love to work more with young actors and actors in training.
You can see Tales from the Garden at Assembly Rooms, Drawing Room from 1st – 25th August (not 12th or 19th) at 11am. For tickets, please visit www.assemblyfestival.com.