Fringe Box



Duo Have Plans For Fringe Festival In Guildford

Published on: 29 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 29 Sep, 2012

Do you love the Edinburgh Festival but shiver at the cost of train fares to get there? Well look no further than Guildford next summer! A new festival is just one of the plans Nick Wyschna and Niall Bailey have for helping up and coming theatre groups in the area.

Together they have formed The Guildford Fringe Theatre Company but their first production, The Last Five Years, begins its run at the Star Inn, Quarry Street, from Tuesday to Saturday, October 2 to 6.

By Flora Windebank

FW: How did you both get started in the theatre business?

Nick Wyschna

Nick: For me it was a total chance. I had to sing for an exam, it was compulsory for music class, and I just realised that I enjoyed it and was pretty good. I started to get into theatre and the head of music at Guildford County School, where I went at the time, really inspired me to take it further and develop my talents. I graduated in 2006 and have been touring ever since. My first job was singing on a cruise, it was an absolute blast. I was young, single and had the time of my life. The jobs since then got better and better. The biggest thing I did was definitely Mamma Mia, where I played Harry.

Niall Bailey

Niall: I only acted once and completely loved it…but was rubbish. It was an amateur version of Showboat and I was picked to play the pianist. I realised later they had only picked me because I could play the piano and was gutted! I realised music was my big thing, and so from then on trained in amateur musical productions and now I am a musical director and teach singing at Guildford School of Acting (GSA).

FW: So what made you decide to set up this new theatre company in Guildford?

Nick: I grew up here and in fact most of my friends are still here. Many of them who were involved in theatre went to GSA, but initially I wanted to branch out a bit, so headed for London. I always knew I would come back though. When I’m on tour, I can’t wait to get home. The town has a brilliant community feel and such a wonderful history.

Niall: I am originally from Scotland, but I came down south and now I teach at GSA. I think we have a lot we could offer Guildford, it’s a fantastic town.

FW: How do you feel the company will add to the theatre scene in the town?

Nick: The main theatres here are brilliant, they all have their specific roles. The Yvonne Arnaud hosts for touring shows, the Electric Theatre is a community theatre and G Live is a great venue but less of a theatre space. It’s more built for music than theatre. What we want to do is to help struggling or lesser known companies develop their ideas. It’s very hard to set up theatre here; there are at least 30 amateur companies in the town. We want to lower the cost for companies, by exploring smaller venues in less well known places. We want to bring new people and writing to Guildford that might not have come here otherwise.

Niall: It’s important for people to understand we are not competing with the other theatres, we just want to create something completely different that Guildford hasn’t offered before. Our main aim is simply to help people. Real theatre is very expensive to create and put on. We want to let people try things without outrageous cost and extravagance. If we only helped a few people out in making a production, we would be happy with that!

FW: So what made you choose The Last Five Years as your first production?

Nick: it’s a really interesting piece. The story is about a couple, Jamie and Cathy, and their relationship over five years. But the catch is, they never interact on stage, apart from in one scene! Jamie is seen experiencing their relationship in the right order, but Cathy is seen experiencing it backwards. It was such a unique idea, I knew we had to do it. I actually play Jamie in the production, although after this I hope to step back from performing. It’s a really interesting part but very difficult, as there is a lot of pressure on acting alone. It’s worse for Daniella Gibb [who plays Cathy], as playing her part backwards means she doesn’t really get a chance to grow with her character.

Niall: The space we have managed to get for it, [the back room at the Star Inn], is fantastic too. We don’t actually have our own venue yet, but somewhere like this would be ideal. It’s a very versatile and atmospheric space and because it’s smaller the audience will get a much more intimate experience.

FW:  Where do you plan to go after The Last Five Years?

Nick: Our next show should be on the third of December. It’s a very new play and we are really excited about putting it on. However, we aren’t allowed to mention what it is yet, it has to stay a secret for now!

Niall: We are also planning hard for our own version of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Guildford! We are really hoping to get one set up for next July. We want the festival to celebrate anything artistic, from poetry or comedy to music. We would love to have things performed in the most experimental of places too, for example theatre being performed on the High Street!

FW: How much interest have you got so far for the festival?

Nick: We have already started talking to the Electric Theatre about possibilities. We would love for the Yvonne Arnaud to be involved too, but they might be too big. Ideally we would love all the town theatres to be involved.

Niall: We already have about half a dozen items booked. Whenever we tell our friends in the industry, they are very keen to be involved, so we are very optimistic!

Nick with co-star Daniella Gibb as Cathy and Jamie in The Last Five Years

More information about The Last Five Years, written and composed by Jason Robert Brown, and how to book tickets can be found here.

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