Meet Jocelyn Cox – this year’s mermaid’s President – fresh from a fantastic Fringe festival. Emily Hill spoke to her about her experiences and hopes for the coming year.
How important do you think the Fringe is for St Andrews theatre?
Sending shows from St Andrews to Edinburgh is very representative of the Mermaids ethos: furthering theatrical opportunities both within and beyond St Andrews. We’re fortunate to have the Mermaids Theatre Fund which enables St Andrews students, who wish to put on a show, here or at the festival, to get the experienced support and financial backing they need while retaining artistic control. The Fringe is a melting pot of creative people, so being able to mix amongst the thousands of artistic peers is invaluable. We hope people have gained memories, contacts, experience and are proud to offer this opportunity.
I suppose it’s you’re first big moment as head of Mermaids. How do you feel it went?
The role of Mermaids President sometimes feels like disaster evasion, but it went very well!
This year’s Fringe was a great success. It was the first Fringe run for both St Andrews Revue and Blind Mirth, and they made huge strides in putting St Andrews comedy on the map. There are so many long-established university comedy troupes that for them to be popular in a first year is something to be proud of. Macbeth was another success story, they sold out their entire run, and made strong links with some great creative connections. It was an incredible feat for a student company. Meanwhile The World Over succeeded in capturing a niche audience and creating another world. I am confident in saying that St Andrews Fringe 2012 was a success.
So there were no disasters then?
The Fringe is so intense that every day something happens which seems like a disaster! With an all male cast who had to wear their suits for flyering and the show, we often had laundry crises with shirts put in the wash fifteen minutes before leaving or yellow socks worn with black suits. I think every production always has highs and lows, and part of the Fringe is solving problems efficiently.
Let’s talk about Meat. I hear you had incredible time, but a director is always their own hardest judge, so what do you think?
I agree. I should be my own hardest critic, yet I was incredibly proud of Meat. I continued giving notes until the final performance, and we had rehearsals throughout. It was a tough run but I was lucky enough to have people who were totally inspired and driven to do the play justice. I also particularly loved being there using a script straight from the pens of St Andrews. We enjoyed several sell-out performances and brilliant reviews. I saw something new every night; a testament to how developed the characters were. I was a very proud mother hen of all of my boys.
What are your fondest memories from this year’s festival?
There are lots of smaller things; great nights out, seeing really inspiring theatre and hilarious comedy, but I found it difficult to take off my Mermaid President hat, so my two favourite moments related to St Andrews theatre. The first had to be telling my cast about their five star review. They completely deserved it. My other top memory was finding out that Macbeth had sold out their entire run. I remember being absolutely over the moon for them.
After such a great summer, what would you say to this year’s Fresher’s thinking about getting into theatre?
Please do! We really are fortunate with the opportunities available. We can support any theatrical interest – we’ve just got new lighting, a new piano for musicians and a great wardrobe! Then of course we need producers, directors and actors for every play. This year there will be monthly socials, so it is easy to get involved. We’ll be doing Freshers’ Plays in first semester, where we guide you through putting on a production. My advice would be just give it a go. I met my best friend at an audition in week two of my first year, and you will meet some wonderful people too! Mermaids can give you a hectic social life, a creative outlet and a lot of memories.
Finally, what are you expecting from this year’s Mermaids scene? Should we be excited?
More plays, more workshops, more socials. Those are the simplified priorities of this year’s committee. We’re also looking to engage more with the local community as well as looking at strengthening the Mermaids image nationwide by hopefully participating in some more festivals.
You can get in touch with Jocelyn and the rest of the Mermaids committee on firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Fringe festivities from St Andrews students
Lauren Dunlop, Blind Mirth, performer
Blind Mirth turned out to be something of an unexpected success. We were bracing ourselves for small audiences, but ended up nearly selling out! A memorable aspect of performing at Surgeon’s Hall was the fact that, for the first couple of weeks of our run, we got into our theatre late because the show before us would be frantically hoovering up all the popcorn they had spread across the stage. We would have to warm up around them as they shouted urgently to each other in Spanish… Just one of those surreal Fringe experiences.
Mark Gregory, actor and writer
My most memorable Fringe moment was when I was reviewing a show that consisted of a free three course meal – soup, beef and sticky toffee pudding. Epic. However my evening was somewhat soured by four women telling me I looked about 30 with my goatee, which I had to have for the show. Bad times. As an actor in St Andrew’s based company Patch of Blue’s Spelling Bee my favourite moment was when we got Anthony Rapp up on stage to guest spell and I got to sing to him! Pretty scary but also such an honour.
Lizzie Stone, producer, Macbeth
Our venue was an uninhabited island, the performance set in and around a twelfth century abbey and the audience had to get a bus and a boat to reach us! We didn’t realise how popular we would be, but we completely sold out. This was not something we were anticipating at all, assuming few people would be interested in seeing a production which would take up 4 hours of their evening and would be outside – we were in Scotland, after all! The response was incredible and I am so proud of my cast and crew for the way they coped with the long hours and they earned every bit of praise they received.