Ancient mythology and modern storytelling collide in a contemporary exploration of the legacy of colonialism and slavery by award-winning Scottish Kenyan storyteller Mara Menzies. Her show, Blood and Gold, showing at the Fringe this August concentrates on a dying mother who gives her daughter a box containing three clues to a priceless treasure. This sets in motion a journey filled with humour and tragedy that considers the importance of ritual, identity and belonging. The Fountain spoke with Mara about the premise and her plans for the Fringe.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
It is massively exciting because it is the first purely storytelling performance on the Made in Scotland showcase, so is an excellent opportunity to showcase the power of this incredible, dynamic and relevant art form.
TF: Blood and Gold certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Blood and Gold is a powerful, engaging storytelling performance using song, story and sound to tell the story of a young girl’s tender relationship with her dying mother. Through a mysterious box, her mother gives her stories that enable her to navigate a voyage of self-discovery that transcends time and place looking into how her place in the world has been heavily influenced by history, relationships, greed, power, courage and unique characters. We are exploring weighty themes of colonialism, slavery, grief, etc through a very different lens.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Across Europe and the Americas, we have seen the rise of the far right, we regularly see examples of white supremacy embedded in law and policy. We see how sections of society are not afraid to violently voice their concerns of immigration without actually understanding history and how what happened then has left a legacy. Storytelling is a way of taking people to new worlds, where they can step into the lives of others and by using myth and legend we hope to explore quite difficult subjects in an entertaining, heart-wrenching space that does encourage conversation.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
Top 5 tips:
? Have a strategy! Know what you want at the end of the month. Is it £££? Is it bookings? Is it an amazing opportunity to perfect your art?
? If your gut tells you to see it, buy a ticket and see it! Sometimes shows sell out or time runs out, and you are left cursing yourself.
? Say YES. There are plenty of opportunities to network, perform, see other shows. Do it all as there is magic in the streets of Edinburgh in August
? Allow yourself breathing space! It can be expensive, exciting, overwhelming and you do need some time to process. Chill in the Meadows, go for walk. Breathe
? See things you wouldn’t. The fringe affords us opportunities to see weird and wonderful shows. Make sure that there are some ‘out there’ things on your list. You don’t know what will inspire you.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
I see a lot of shows during the 241 days. I also plan to see many of the Made in Scotland shows. I haven’t had a chance to look properly at the programme but it’s the fringe, so I have no doubt that there will be plenty of choice and opportunity.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Blood and Gold?
We hope to tour Blood and Gold and I will also be working on an experimental digital/traditional storytelling show, but that is news for another day!
You can see Blood and Gold at The Scottish Storytelling Centre from 1st – 26th August (Not 12th or 19th) at 14:00. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com