Edinburgh Fringe: Julia Miller (Lula de Rey), interview

From the company that brought you Ada/Ava (total sell-out Edinburgh 2016), hit of the Fringe and critically acclaimed Manual Cinema return with their follow up, Lula del Ray. Told through a live-collage mix of shadow puppets and actors with live music, this show is a mythic reinvention of the classic coming of age story.

AAA caught up with Lula del Ray’s Julia Miller for a chat.

How has your Fringe been so far?

It’s been great to be back! We came in 2016 with our show Ada/Ava and had a really great run. The cast were really excited to come back this year for another month at the Fringe. We’ve already been to our favourite spots several times and are excited to explore new parts of the city and see as many shows as we can.

Tell us a bit about the show you’re in?

Lula del Ray is performed with three old school overhead projectors, over 400 hundred shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, and a live band. The story is told almost entirely without dialogue and is presented like you are watching a movie but can also see how everything is being made on stage. Set in the mid-century American Southwest and inspired by the music of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline, Lula del Ray is a female centered reinvention of the classic coming-of-age story.

What’s the audience reaction been so far?

The audiences have been great and seem to really enjoying the show. We get to talk with them a little bit after each performance while we reset the puppets and people have such awe on their face when they get a closer look. They are impressed with the precision of the puppetry and how tight our choreography is but also how moving the story is.

Do you read your reviews? Do negative ones bother you?

I do read them. They have all been extremely positive, and if there is one I don’t like, I just don’t tweet it or share it on Facebook. But that has only really happened once, and I think the person reviewing it just didn’t seem to relate to the main character.

There’s thousands of shows on – why should Fringe-goers fork out to see yours?

There isn’t anything else quite like a Manual Cinema. We create immersive visual stories using cinematic techniques that are all being created live on stage. We use overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, a live feed camera, multi-channel sound design, and a live band to transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbue it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality. It is not a passive experience to watch one of our shows. We really ask the audience to engage with the medium as well as the story because there is so much going on onstage.

Are there any other shows on this year you’d recommend?

I loved The Dreamers, a beautiful physical theatre show with an incredible ensemble and production design by Gecko Theatre, Red Bastard: Lie with me, a scary awesome clown show about love among other things, and Flight, which is part of the International Festival and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

What’s on your hit list to see?

I still need to see a show by a friend from NYC playing at The Zoo called A Hunger Artist, Nina Conti (AGAIN, I saw her last year and she is so amazing), Different Party at Assembly, Paper Cinema’s Macbeth at Pleasance and Frogman at Traverse. The list gets longer every day because I want to see as much as I can around our show!

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

I think I’ll try and go to the sea or do a longer hike around Arthur’s Seat. Then catch some shows that are during our showtime that I can only see that day.

Do you agree with those who say the Fringe has become too big?

It’s hard for me to say since my first Fringe was last summer. I think the scale of the Fringe is incredible and unlike anything else there is. I also think it is a very commercial venture and that it’s harder for smaller or younger companies to break in considering the costs involved in producing work here.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

Kim’s Mini Meals is amazing Korean food. There are only a few tables so you have to wait for it but it’s worth it. Also Kampung Ali is really good affordable Malaysian food, the African Wrap place by George Square is a great fast lunch, and I also like Bow Bar in old town. I went to Under the Stairs near Cowgate for the first time last night and the food is so good, it’s super cozy, and they have a lot of delicious looking cocktails on the menu.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in Edinburgh this year?

Dang, I haven’t seen enough shows yet to see some real weird stuff. I hope that changes soon though.

Sell your show in no more than ten words…

An immersive cinematic experience unlike anything at the Fringe.

Lula del Ray by Manual Cinema, Underbelly Med Quad (Venue 302), 4.30pm, until 28 August, www.edfringe.com

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