Edinburgh craft beer startup Brewhive.com has stepped in at the last minute to save a Tennessee Williams play which was facing having to cancel its run at the Fringe.
Confessional by Tennessee Williams was left with a week to find £6,000 after a sponsor pulled out at the last minute. Despite raising £3,500 in 3 days on crowd funding website Indiegogo, the production company Tramp was left several thousand pounds short.
Brewhive founder Kevin Dorren decided to sponsor the play after seeing the crowdfunder in his Facebook feed.
“We’ve chosen to support Tramp because they’re so passionate about Confessional, and that mirrors how passionate we are about our beer.” said Dorren, “The team behind the play are fantastic and we were happy to step in and help. We’re excited about working with them over the next few weeks.”
As well as financial help, Brewhive are providing props, rehearsal space, marketing help, and even giving away a case of beer to one audience member each night.
“Brewhive are giving us so much more than just money,” says Confessional’s director, Jack Silver, “Even just getting rehearsal space in Edinburgh is a huge help, and Kevin, Anna and the team really got what we’re trying to do with the play, which was important.
The “phenomenal success” of the crowd funding campaign, which raised over £3,500 in less than three days, helped persuade Brewhive to sponsor the play.
“The phenomenal success of Tramp’s Indiegogo campaign proved to us that people really want to see this show, and so do we,” says Dorren, “We’re happy to support the arts and this show in particular.
“Brewhive and Tramp are both competing in crowded marketplaces,” continues Dorren, “The Edinburgh Fringe in their case, the beer market in ours – but what we have in common is excellence and a passion for what we’re producing.”
The play is, “Like the best episode of Eastenders ever written,” according to Silver.
The ambitious project from London-based Tramp has 9 cast members, and sees Tennessee William’s play restaged in modern Britain, and made semi-immersive. The audience can sit in the bar during the pre-show, and are invited to, “Share a drink with a group of lowlifes and watch their lives implode.”
“Confessional is an earlier draft of Small Craft Warnings,” explains Silver, “It’s set in a bar and follows the fortunes of a group of low-lifes over the course of a single evening.
“The play is semi-immersive, so the audience will get to sit and drink with the regulars while the action unfolds around them. It’s like getting to sit in an episode of Eastenders, except it’s the best episode ever, as it was written by Tennessee Williams. It’s fun, fiery, funny, and hauntingly beautiful.”
Lizzie Stanton, who plays beautician Leona Dawson, explains, “When Jack first suggested doing Confessional I wasn’t sure that it would work in British accents, but Tennessee has written these amazing characters that transcend their setting and it really, really works. The play deals with love, loss, betrayal, loneliness, hatred – all things that connect with a modern audience just as much as when he wrote it.
“I’ve fallen in love with Leona. She’s such a force of nature and so different to me in so many ways. I wish I could be more like her at times. We’ve got an amazing cast and we’ve all fallen in love with our characters and with the play.”
“Confessional is a stunning play. It deserves to be much better known. At first reading it seems like a simple bar-room drama,” says Jack Silver, “But Williams’ masterful use of religious metaphors and his tackling of taboo subjects like homophobia, promiscuity, and medical malpractice make it much, much more than that.
“I’ve been blessed with a superbly talented and open-minded cast. There are some career-launching performances in Confessional, and Lizzie Stanton, is electric as Leona Dawson, the play’s lead.
“When I decided to direct Confessional I always wanted audiences to be unable to take their eyes off the action for the full hour. It’s a fun, booze-fuelled hour but with the writing of a genuine literary genius to underpin it all.”
Confessional by Tennessee Williams is on at 7.05pm from 6th August to 31st August at C-Cubed’s Main Space (Venue 50) in Celtic Lodge at the end of the Royal Mile (Lawnmarket). Tickets are available from the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office