Edinburgh Festival Spotlight: Beak Speaks

Edinburgh Festival Spotlight: Beak Speaks

To find out more about Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 and the spotlights, please see the introductory article.

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Beak Speaks, which plays Edinburgh Festival from 3 – 28 August 2017. I caught up with writer and actor Sarah Thom:

Describe your show in three words.

Centre, Focus, Go!

Is this your first Edinburgh Fringe performance experience?

This is my first time up with a comedy show, though I have been several times with theatre shows… I’m generally feeling “Oh my God, what have I let myself in for…” and at the same time looking forward to getting the writing finished so I can fully unleash The Beak.

The first time I came to the Fringe was in 1991 with Birmingham Rep Youth Workshop’s The Magic Toyshop and the last time I came was in 2011 with Bette and Joan: The Final Curtain.

Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the Fringe?

Sarah Kendall (One-Seventeen). I thought her show last year was absolutely brilliant.

How do you feel to be performing at Underbelly Cowgate?

Excited… and a little nervous. The last person I saw in the White Belly was Stewart Lee – so quite a tough act to follow!

Who or what are your inspirations?

I’ve been inspired by all sorts of people over the years. I think something that’s given me the impetus to finally get cracking with some of my comedic ideas is working with a whole bunch of inspiring and motivated performers and writers on the radio comedy, Clare in the Community. It’s been an absolute privilege to work alongside the talents of Sally Philips, Nina Conti, Sarah Kendall, Alex Lowe, Harry Venning and David Marsden over the last few years – to name a few of them.

What is your secret to surviving the intense, fast pace of the fringe?

Coffee and sleep – with gaps in between them. And running away to Portobello beach. Oh and most importantly, bringing my two boys (a one year old and five year old) with me – they should provide ample distraction!

What are the future plans for your show?

Right now, I am aiming for 3 August, but it would be fantastic to take the show on beyond the Fringe. I originally created Gillian Beak with the idea of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, and I’ve also written a radio pilot of her story so hopefully there might be a further life in other mediums too.

What is the best production you have seen this year – can be any genre, style, in any theatre or performance space?

Probably Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman. Writers like him don’t come around very often. 

Is there anything else you want to highlight about your show/ theatre company/ production?

I want to thank Miles Jupp for being a complete sport in helping me bring Gillian’s rather idiosyncratic world to life. And my partner, James Greaves, who I created my last Edinburgh show, Bette and Joan: The Final Curtain with and who is proving to be more than my right-hand man once again. And the National Theatre and Jacksons Lane Theatre for supporting me by giving me space to actually make the show.


Writer: Sarah Thom

Producer: Jimmy Jewell

Cast: Sarah Thom

Image courtesy of James Greaves

Beak Speaks plays Underbelly Cowgate as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 from 3 – 28 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.