Ed Fringe Interviews: Ada Günther, "Reigen"
Reigen, August13-25th, The Space at Venue 45, 10:40 am; August 25th-28th, The Space at Niddry Street, 4:15 pm
Reigen is a play from 1903 by an Austrian playwright named Artur Schnitzler. It’s about nine people who we see have conversations before and after they have sex. It was very scandalous at the time, because it’s not something you talked about at the turn of the 20th century! It starts out in the lower social classes, and then moves upwards. In the first scene there's a sex worker who sleeps with a soldier, the soldier sleeps with the maid, the maid with the sleeps with her employers’ son, and so on. It moves up in social class, so at the end we have a really rich count who sleeps with the sex worker from the beginning. In addition to being scandalous because of the sex, there’s a lot of subversion in terms of gender and class roles. I translated it from German into English—there are other translations, but the reason I did it myself was because I wanted the nuances and gender triumphs to be brought out. The other translations were, in a sense, sexist. The newer ones are often adapted—i.e., set in modern-day London. So, I set out to do it myself!
What’s the best thing about the Fringe?
The plays that are on aren’t curated — people put on what they want! When you look at it in bulk, it represents what people want to do, not what people are programmed to do. It’s unfiltered choice, and it shows, because there are so many feminist and female led shows-- so many that I won’t even be able to see them all! It’s really refreshing.
What’s the worst?
It’s my first time at the Fringe, so I haven’t experienced the worst of it yet! I will admit I’m getting increasingly annoyed at the bigger shows—not that it’s bad that they’re here, but it is annoying when people come to only see shows that always sell out and will transfer. You should be seeing some fringe shows at the Fringe! Also, the amount of stress and pressure is up there as well. It can be a very unhealthy environment—I can feel it from absorption, and my show hasn't even opened yet!
What shows are you looking forward to?
There’s a show that’s played in tents called Base Camp—it’s an immersive piece where two friends are camping, and you have to decide which side of the story you see and hear. I’m also excited about Elise, a show about a beat poet who burnt her work when she died. There’s only 80 poems left, and the show focuses on that.
Projects you’re looking to work/collaborate on in the future:
I did a lot of text-based theatre in the past, and this is my first foray into physical theatre. I used to do a lot of dance, and I really want to do some dance theatre. I also want to write a play that explores the ways conversations work in reality, compared to how we write conversations in theatre and in film. It will be set in a family’s flat, where we see a family who never clicks when they talk—they're always talking over each other, having silent conversations, never really getting what the other person is saying talking past each other, etc. I want to experiment with scripting dysfunctional arguments and conversations. I also want to put a toilet on stage, and explore the politics of what we do in bathrooms.
It’s a very queer show—it’s 80% women, and we’re all bisexual except for one of us. So it’s an 80% bisexual, female led show. We have a cast of 2 bisexual women, one non-binary gay person, and one cis man. We’ve made the show more interesting by gender-bending the roles. We depict gay and lesbian relationships, and that representation is important because these sexualities are just there—not for any other reason other than the relationship we're exploring.
Part of the Main is conducting interviews with women, nonbinary, and femme-identifying theatremakers who are up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you’re interested in being featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.