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Who will be this year's Woman of the Year?
That's what Anna Nicholson will be coming to Adelaide Fringe this year to find out. The contenders in the running include anyone and everyone from an Instagram star giving terrible millennial advice to a bra saleswoman stirring up the next generation - sounds ... interesting, to say the least!
In anticipation of her arrival in Adelaide to entertain her audiences this year, I was able to conduct an e-interview with Anna, where we chatted about the show and what goes on behind the scenes - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Anna? Anna: I am a British character comedian and actress, originally from Newcastle (home to Geordie Shore!) and have been living in London now over 8 years. I started doing comedy more seriously in 2014 when I was cast in NewsRevue, the world's longest running sketch show. This is a satirical musical comedy show where the cast and writers refresh the material every week to keep it up to date with the news. Lots of fun and lots of last-minute re-writes! I've done 3 runs with NewsRevue now and in 2017 performed in BBC sitcom writer James Cary's sketch show A Monk's Tale. We ended up doing a 99-date tour of this show! James then encouraged me to go it alone and write a one-woman show and so that's when I started working on this my debut show "Woman of the Year."
Tema: What is the basic premise of your show (without giving too much away)? Anna: The show is a character comedy show. It follows 4 women who are each nominated for woman of the year. At the end of the show, the audience then vote for their winner! I play every woman! We have Denise, a bra saleswoman with a strong sense of correct etiquette. Bianca, an Instagram star giving terrible millennial advice, Ruth a very competitive Vicar, and Shirley an elderly lady with a mischievous nature. The show is sketches and songs, I have a live pianist who plays the show with me.
Tema: What inspired you to create the content of your show? Anna: I love Victoria Wood. You may not know who she is, but she's one of the great British female character comedians, who sadly died 3 years ago. Look her up! I adore her ability to capture normal people's sensibilities and idiosyncrasies and create characters that are so real and yet are so funny. I admire her ability to not rely on swearing or the shock factor to get a laugh. I was incredibly flattered to have been compared to her in my first ever review ("Victoria Wood in a smartphone age" The Reviews Hub). I too wanted to create funny characters that are relatable and could be enjoyed by everyone. I wanted to make a show that didn't rely on swearing or being particularly divisive to make it funny. I was also interested in creating characters who all think a lot of themselves and where none of them had their entire identity in being a wife or a mother, or even particularly in being a woman. I wanted to create 4 endearing, confident and funny characters that all happen to be women.
Tema: What made you pursue sketchy comedy as a career? Anna: I trained as an actress at Mountview Academy in London and have spent a lot of my career, and hopefully will continue to in the future, doing "serious" plays. But I also LOVE making people laugh! When I worked on NewsRevue it is such a fast-paced process that you learn a lot from that experience. It makes you make brave choices and stick to them and also you learn so much about timing and the beats of a line to make them funny.
Tema: What about comedy appeals to you? Anna: It's so much fun! Who wouldn't want to make people laugh! I think also there are so many problems in the world and so many things that people are anxious about that if I can bring a bit of joy into the lives of the audience then I think that's a good thing to be doing.
Tema: What are you hoping for your audience to experience from attending your show? Anna: I love live comedy because it allows a group of complete strangers to share a space and all laugh at the same thing. I am passionate about creating comedy that has a broad appeal. I want to make funny shows that can be enjoyed by a very diverse audience. I hope this audience will include teenagers, young adults, families and the older generation, all laughing with these ridiculous and endearing characters.
Tema: What can people expect from attending your show? Anna: Hopefully they will laugh! They will encounter 4 very different British women. As suggested the show has a broad appeal. So there is no swearing or any really rude content. Expect some cheekiness, some quick changes, some songs with a live pianist and some different accents!
Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? How long have you been a part of the AF family? How have you found the journey so far? Anna: I was performing this show at the Edinburgh Fringe last year when a member of the Adelaide Fringe team came to watch my show and suggested I take it to Australia. I am so excited to perform in Adelaide, and at the National Wine Centre too! As a wine lover, this is a particular joy!
Tema: How does it fare, compared to other Fringe festivals that you have been a part of? Anna: It's a bit smaller than Edinburgh but just as friendly and exciting, and a lot warmer! I am also pleased to have air conditioning in my venue!
Tema: How are you finding performing in front of big audiences? Anna: The bigger the better I say! Performing live comedy is always exciting because the audience will always respond to things slightly differently. That keeps it fresh and alive. It also makes it scary! But it's the riskiness of it all that makes it so exciting to perform.
Tema: How did you score the venue The National Wine Centre for your show? Anna: A few people I knew who had performed in Adelaide before told me how great it was and so I got in touch. My show has some quieter moments so I was keen to not be in a tented venue. And as I said a place where there is wine flowing, is just ideal!
Tema: Are there any specific activities that you're hoping to do, when you get to Adelaide? Anna: Not get sunburnt! I have a history of that. Excited to go to the beach and take some trips with some fellow artists.
Tema: Are there any performers that you're really looking forward to seeing at this year's Fringe? Anna: I'm looking forward to seeing all my fellow performers at the National Wine Centre. We've been in touch a lot on facebook up till now, I'm looking forward to supporting all of their shows.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like your audience / our readers to know about Anna / Woman of the Year? Anna: The show was first performed at the Brighton Fringe in May 2018. It then went on to enjoy a completely sold out run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. I have since been touring the UK with the show, including 8 performances in London! Our first show in Adelaide will be our 41st show.