Local singer to fulfil childhood dream by making Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut with The Music of Doris Day
A local singer and actress from Greenbank has spoken of the pride she feels after fulfilling her childhood dream of securing her first show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Sarah Laing, a former pupil of Bororughmuir High School, grew up attending the Fringe and can’t wait to bring some vintage charm to the festival with her one-woman show, The Music of Doris Day. The show will be performed throughout August at the Free Sisters venue, which is run by the Laughing Horse Free Festival.
The Music of Doris Day will be performed in the Gothic Room at the Free Sisters, Cowgate from Thursday 6th- Sunday 30th August (excluding 17th and 18th) at 10.45am each day.
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I started the show while in my final year of university last year. It started off as a 40 minute show that I toured around a selection of care homes in Edinburgh and from there I developed it into a theatre show lasting an hour. It probably sounds a little cheesy but my main inspiration was Doris Day. I have always loved her music and films since I was little and it feels great to now be performing some of her most famous songs.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
It’s my home town. I’ve been going to see shows at the Fringe for many years and always thought it would be amazing to perform a show of my own at it and now I am. I feel it is also such an amazing platform for people to see your work and you never know who might be in the audience. So many different people come to see the Fringe and there is always such a variety of shows, I really wanted to be part of it all.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The audience can expect to hear song made famous by Doris Day. There are also stories in between each song about Doris and where the songs came in her career for example if it came from one of her films which one. The show tracks her career from its beginnings singing with big bands, through to her film career and then finishing with her own television show.
The show is suitable for the whole family and you don’t need to be a fan of Doris Day or familiar with her career to enjoy it. Being a big fan of Doris Day myself I hope that audiences leave humming one of her songs and maybe even encourages them to listen to her music or watch one of her films they maybe haven’t seen for a long time.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
To be honest during the creative process I did not consider the relevance of dramaturgy within my work. The show is not a play and is more like a cabaret/concert therefore it does not sit in a particular place and time and can be relevant and enjoyable to a wide range of audiences. Therefore I would say that it is not particularly relevant to this style of show however if it had more adult or topical content it may be more relevant.
What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
The main influence I would say would be that of a cabaret/variety show. It was important to me that it was suitable for anyone to come and see and that they didn’t really need to bring any prior knowledge of the subject (Doris Day) to enjoy the show. There are a couple of chances for the audience to sing along if they want to and I also ask a couple of questions to the audience so it makes it a more interactive experience that I feel is influences by the cabaret/variety show tradition.
Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
There wasn’t a great deal of collaboration within the process. I am the creator of the show and also the performer so currently I work a lot on my own but I always like to get feedback and will seek out advice if I need a bit of help.
At the moment I am still very knew at developing a show so I wouldn’t say I have a particular process. I changed the initial show several times while performing it in care homes and again after the first performances of it as a theatre show I changed things slightly to get it working better. I suspect that after the first couple of shows at the Fringe there may be a couple of changes if I feel it could work/flow better.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I feel that the role of the audience is simply to enjoy the show. This probably sounds simplistic but if they enjoy the show and leave with a smile on their faces I will feel like I have done my job as an entertainer and it will in some way validate my work.
The talented 26-year-old said: “I have been going to see shows during the Fringe for as long as I can remember and always dreamed of being the one up there performing. I love the buzz that is around Edinburgh during August and can’t wait to be right in the middle of it all. The fact that I’m going to be performing hasn’t quite sunk in yet – I actually screamed when I got the email confirming my slot!”
Sarah, who studied Musical Theatre at university, has wanted to pursue a career in the industry since she got her first role as Dorothy in her Brownie’s production of The Wizard of Oz at Greenbank Parish Church, aged nine. She explained: “I am just as excited about stepping into Doris’s shoes as I was stepping into Dorothy’s ruby slippers when I was nine. This is an absolute dream come true for me and I can’t hope that everyone who comes along enjoys my performance.”
The show, which has already enjoyed a successful run at the Big Burns Supper festival in Dumfries this year, features stories about Doris’s life and renditions of some of her most popular songs such as Que Sera Sera, Secret Love and Sentimental Journey.
Sarah explains: “I remember seeing Calamity Jane for the first time when I was nine and being blown away by Doris’s performance as she not only had a beautiful voice but was also really quirky and funny. I regularly perform in care homes in Edinburgh as I love engaging with the residents, many of whom have dementia, and using music to try and tap into their memories.”