Edinburgh Festival Spotlight: Cathy

Edinburgh Festival Spotlight: Cathy

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

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Cathy, which plays Edinburgh Festival from 2 – 26 August 2017. I caught up with actor Hayley Wareham:

Describe your show in three words.

Empowering, timely, compelling.

Is this your first Edinburgh Fringe performance experience?

As a performer yes. I’ve been a twice as a punter. 

I’m at peak excitement. To be going up with Cathy is a real privilege as it’s a show that I care deeply about. Having toured for five months with it, we’re tight as a team and the play has grown and been shaped by the people we’ve met on tour who’ve been generous enough to share their experiences with us – from prisoners facing homelessness upon release to single parents struggling with their increasing rents to young people sofa surfing or living in unstable temporary accommodation – you feel a huge responsibility to tell this story with the honesty and truth it deserves and I’m really excited about bringing it to a Fringe audience.

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

I’ve been following the work of the brilliant Paines Plough for years so will be seeing all of their seasons at Roundabout at Summerhall. Plus, Jelly Beans at Pleasance Courtyard and The Bearpit at Zoo Southside.

How do you feel to be performing at Pleasance Dome?

We opened Cathy at Pleasance Islington way back in October of last year so it feels fitting to be back there for Edinburgh. As a venue they are really supportive of new writing and attracting diverse audiences so it feels like the perfect home for Cathy.

Who or what are your inspirations?

As an actor and writer I’m inspired to create art that affects change and asks people to questions their social and moral conscious; it’s all about getting the small ripples of change going through conversation and creating a safe space for provocative questions.

Cathy was a dream job for me in that sense as the journey has been two-fold; we’ve played to traditional theatregoing audiences who leave with a better understanding of our broken housing system and frequently with a desire to get engaged in these issues whether at a local level like volunteering at a food bank or at a wider issue by campaigning to their MP or getting involved in politics. But we also took Cathy to prisons and homeless hostels and played to people with direct experiences of what Cathy and her daughter Danielle – who I play –  go through and they expressed feelings of empowerment in hearing a story like their own and a form of validation. Homelessness is incredibly isolating and giving a platform for a story shows people they’re not alone.

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

A good rainmac, lots of coffee and an organised diary!

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

I loved Anatomy Of A Suicide at the Royal Court. I thought it was an arresting, intimate yet universe take on mental health and an innovative examination of the nature / nurture question. Alice Birch does beautiful things with words and Katie Mitchell makes things happen on stage that I didn’t think were possible. As a side note it was refreshing to see a play with three female leads of various ages.

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

Cardboard Citizens is a truly amazing company. Having spent some time with their Members, all of whom having experienced homelessness or difficulties with housing, I’ve seen the direct impact their work has. They support their Members with housing guidance and knowledge, and improve self-worth and mental health through their poetry, yoga, movement, spoken word and acting workshops.

As one articulate young audience member put it when he saw Cathy as part of a school trip “Cathy is essentially a love story between a mother and daughter”. I think the audience invest in this relationship and care deeply for Cathy and Danielle. They see what a difficult situation the family face – through no fault of their own making – and when the relationship inevitably begins to fracture under this pressure, it’s devastating to witness.


Writer: Ali Taylor

Director: Adrian Jackson

Producer: Cardboard Citizens

Design: Lucy Sierra; Mary Dymock (lighting); Matt Lewis (sound); Edward Japp (video)

Cast: Alex Jones; Amy Loughton; Cathy Owen; Hayley Wareham

Cathy plays Pleasance Dome as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 from 2 – 26 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.