re:play interviews – Claire Symonds

You’re involved in three events in this year’s re:play festival – can you tell us a bit about your role?

I’ve been working with re:play Festival for three years now. I’m part of the selection panel, which means seeing shows throughout the year to select those that will make it into the programme. I also work on the engagement side of things and this year I’m co-ordinating three events: Pitch Party, where four artists will pitch their ideas for a piece of theatre in the hope of winning £1000 of development support; First Stage, which presents four script-in-hand performances from hot new writers; and The Great Fringe Tea Party, which is a big old speed dating, cake-eating get-together for everyone and anyone who is (or wants to be) involved with the fringe theatre scene.

Do you think re:play is important for Manchester’s Fringe?

I think it is really important. We are really lucky to live in a place with such a vibrant fringe scene but it can be hard to keep up with everything that is on offer, particularly as fringe shows tend to only run for a few nights at the most. You might only hear about a show once it has closed! Re:Play gives people a chance to catch up with the best fringe theatre from the last year.

What are you particularly looking forward to seeing from the three events?

Each one has something different to offer. Pitch Party is all about that ‘eureka’ moment and the feeling of excitement around the birth of a project. With First Stage, I’m really interested to see how the scripts we’ve selected work onstage and I always love to see the audience and the writer discussing what they’ve just seen. And I know you shouldn’t have favourites but I’m really looking forward to The Great Fringe Tea Party. It is a brand new event – a bit of an experiment, really – and there’s already a great buzz about it from fringe venues, producers, actors, writers, students. There isn’t really any other forum for everyone to get together and meet each other so it should be something really special. It looks like it might get full up, so if you want to come along you definitely need to book a free ticket before the day!

What can attendees hope to experience and what will they gain from this experience?

The theatre shows in re:play are all about looking back over the last year, while these three events are about getting a sneak peek into the future – discovering fresh new talent, debating ideas and meeting the people who will be taking the fringe forward in the future.