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Brief Encounter With ... Playwright-Director Julian Garner

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Julian Garner is the playwright-director for Bright is the Ring of Words, being performed at the Pleasance Courtyard. It is an honest and powerful treatment of alcoholism, dependency and broken dreams, allowing the audience insight into the lives of artists after the dreadful collapse into a life full of sex, booze, drugs and world-class opera.

You currently live in Finland, why did you move from the UK?

I’ve lived in Scandinavia most of my adult life, first in Norway and, from 1998, in Finland, where I moved together with my Finnish partner, Motley-trained theatre designer Hanna Horte. We set up our community arts company, CulturaMobila, in 2004 and were nominated for a State Arts Prize in 2008. We’re currently collaborating with media artists Andy Best and Merja Puustinen on Speak No Evil, a huge outdoor event involving some 300 local people, for the European Capital of Culture celebrations in Turku, 2011.

What do you enjoy about the Edinburgh fringe?

As a playwright, I’ve been twice to the Fringe; in 2002, with Theresa Heskins' Fringe First-winning production of Silent Engine, for Pentabus at the Gilded Balloon, and 2003 with Cyril's Little Moments of Weakness and Strength, Jeffrey Mayhew's highly regarded revival for Bare Bawds at the Pleasance. This year I’m especially looking forward to sampling the full range of what's on offer, including deep-fried Mars Bars!

You are associated with two productions at this years Fringe which are both at The Pleasance Courtyard, what is your involvement with the productions?

I’m directing Bright Is the Ring of Words by Jeffrey Mayhew, whilst I’ve made the English translation of Joakim Groth's Death of a Theatre Critic.

You are a Fringe first and Ibsen prize winning playwright, why did you decide to direct Bright is the Ring of Words?

I started directing seriously in 2004, when I began my association with young award-winning Finnish playwright Hanna Akerfelt. Jeffrey Mayhew and I go back a long way: he took my play The Bear Table to Chichester and the Cottelsoe (National Theatre) in 2002, though we were friends before that. When he asked me to direct Bright is the Ring of Words, I leapt at the chance. It's a beautiful play, full of tenderness and humanity, despite the darkness of its subject matter. Jeffrey wrote the play especially for himself and John Garfield-Roberts to perform. I’ve also known John for some years. Not least, it's a huge pleasure to work in English again.

With over 2000 productions at this years Fringe, why should people come and see Bright is the Ring of Words?

It's a sharp, witty, uncomfortable and nuanced play, by an extremely promising new playwright, who just happens to be 62 years of age. It doesn’t try to be modish or cool, or cutting edge, but simply gets on with the job of burrowing beneath the skin of it's flawed but strangely irresistible characters.

Bright is the Ring of Words is running at the Pleasance Courtyard, 4-30 August at 15.25.


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