Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group has established itself as one of the city’s most respected amateur companies, earning a reputation for tackling challenging work. And the theatre company builds upon that tradition with Catch-22 – the rarely performed script made its UK debut in 2014 to mixed reviews. Director Hannah Bradley, whose directorial debut won her an award at the SCDA One Act Festival, first fell in love with Heller’s novel as a teenager, and was captivated by its use of irony and wordplay to reflect the cyclical and timeless nature of warfare. Hannah spoke with The Fountain about working on this adaptation.
TF: You are very much involved in Catch-22, how loyal have you been taking it from book to theatre?
As a long time fan of Catch-22 I think what I really appreciated about this version of the story is that it is Joseph Heller’s own adaptation. There have been some fantastic adaptations down the years – the 1970 film and most recently George Clooney’s series; but this is the version of the story Heller wanted to tell. Being live theatre means there are some obvious constraints, it would be difficult to portray the flight missions on stage for example, which means that the focus is very much more on the characters and how they react to their situation. We’ve spent a lot of time in making sure those characters feel real. I think one thing you’ll see in this production which Heller maybe didn’t predict is the strength of the women in the story. They were written by a man in the sixties for a story set in the forties, but we’ve approached them from our own modern-day perspective, which has given them more depth than they might otherwise have had.
TF: How did you come to be involved in this project?
EGTG sends out an open-call for production submissions each year and I was lucky enough that my pitch for Catch-22 was selected. The company has been really supportive of the production and I’d highly recommend them to other directors.
TF: And what is your background Hannah?
I’ve been performing on stage since I was wee – in dance shows and then later on in youth theatre. But my directorial debut was only last year. The first show I directed was written by my Great Grandfather, The Ram in the Thicket, which came third in the SCDA One Act Festival Edinburgh District. I then presented the UK debut of You Remind of You at the Edinburgh Fringe which was written by the young American playwright Matthew Capodicasa. I like to find plays, which you don’t often see on stage in Scotland. I still love to perform when I can, but I can definitely see me taking more backstage roles in the future.
TF: You have five dates in the calendar with this performance, are there more of this type we can look forward to?
Catch-22 is only doing those five dates, so if you want to catch it make sure you book your ticket now! But the theatre company itself has some really exciting shows lined up for next year – Alistair McDowell’s Brilliant Adventures and Tracey Lett’s Bug to name a couple. So well worth following to find out more.
TF: What next are you working on after Catch-22?
I would love to be on stage next, but failing that I’m directing Trifles by Susan Glaspell for the 2020 Fringe. It’s a feminist murder-mystery based loosely on the murder of John Hossack and the subsequent trial of his wife in 1900. Definitely a stark contrast from Catch-22!
Catch-22 runs 12-16 November at The Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh. Tickets are priced £12 in advance and £15 on the door, available here