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Edinburgh Fringe interview: Su Pollard on her fringe debut and what she wants to see while she's there

Su Pollard will be making her Edinburgh Fringe debut starring in Harpy, a play written especially for her by Fringe-first winner Philip Meeks.

Su_Pollard-hary-edinburgh-fringeIn this preview interview, she talks about playing Birdie, a woman ostracised by her neighbours because of her hoarding, embarking on her first fringe and what she wants to see when she isn't performing.

How does it feel to have a play specially commissioned for you?
When I first met the playwright Philip Meeks about three years ago he said he was going to write something for me.  

I don’t think either of us thought much more about it until Suzanna Rosenthal suggested it because we knew each other.  

I’ve often been asked to go to Edinburgh but I’ve either been busy with other shows or the right play hasn’t been sent my way.  

What’s fantastic about this is I’ve been there from the start and Philip’s told me about every stage of his thinking and the writing process.  I feel as if I’ve really helped to create the role.

What was it about Birdie that made you want to play her?
Because she’s a woman of my age with a story to tell and believe me when you hit your sixties the great parts become few and far between.  

As soon as Philip said her story was about her hoarding the whole concept of hoarding seemed to be everywhere. In the papers, on the telly, I had friends admitting to suffering from it.

I realised it’s a phenomenon that people are fascinated by and it’s a dilemma people are facing increasingly because of the times we’re living in.  

So Birdie's story is very real and relevant and touches many people.

Her story also touches on the idea of mental health and how we all probably suffer from it. But what makes society decide who’s mad and who’s not these days when all our values and ideas seem to be getting eroded away on a daily basis.

Why should people come and see Harpy?
It’s a good story and it's funny and it’s got a great soundtrack of Eighties Divas.  

But it should also make you think about the people who don’t quite fit into the world as you see it.  And Birdie should either be a terrible warning to us all or symbol of hope.  

In these days of the Brexit mess and political hooliganism, we’re all approaching the edge. We could all reach the point where we feel we have one of two options.  Cling on for all we’re worth or do what she does and step over it. 
It’s your fringe debut, what’s the best advice you’ve been given?
There are certain situations when I think if you listened to advice you’d probably never get out of bed.  I think this is one of them. I’ve become quite good over the years doing as many jobs as I’ve done, finding my “sea legs” as it were.  

I’m sure I’ll cope with the onslaught with the Fringe by getting on with the job at hand and dipping my toes into everything else surrounding me gradually.

When you aren’t performing, what are you most looking forward to seeing?
I’ve not had much time to get my head around the programme but I have a few chums up in Edinburgh this year; Jeffrey Holland in his Stan Laurel Show, Mark Curry in a play about Blue Peter and Esther Rantzen. So I’ll definitely go and see those shows if they don’t clash with Harpy.  

After that, I’m going to go with the flow when I get up there.

Harpy is at Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly) from Thursday 2 August to Sunday 26 August (excluding 13th) at 16.00 and is 60 minutes. For more details and tickets head to the Underbelly website.

Related post:

Edinburgh fringe interview: Director Madelaine Moore talks about bringing a bloody unlikeable female character to the fringe in Ladykiller.