Writer and performer Remy Beasley prepares for the endurance test that is the Edinburgh Fringe with her new show Do Our Best.
My name is Remy Beasley and for the first time in a long time I have finally finished something I started. I have written a play with a beginning, middle and an end. It even has a title and everything.
It’s called Do Our Best and it follows the story of narcissistic Sephie who, at 30 years of age, suddenly finds herself back in the Girl Guides after a particularly turbulent life episode. This August I’m taking it up to Edinburgh for a month’s run at the festival. I’ll be playing at Underbelly Cowgate if you’d like to come (please come). I think it’ll be funny, and moving hopefully, and I’ll dance for you. Keenly. Let it be known that I have wanted to write a one-woman play for the longest time. Thought that I should. Thought that perhaps I could, but for some reason could never quite get it done.
I found myself getting itchy fingers during the middle of last year. Acting work was dribbling in but I wasn’t feeling particularly sated by work in general. I hadn’t done a play since 2016 and missed being in rehearsals and on stage. On a whim one day I dragged myself over to a sunny a café on Broadway Market like all the other self-employed cool-kids do and I took my lap-top to look professional as heck. I opened up a blank word document, stopped myself flicking through Facebook for a clear 15 minutes and started sort of free writing.
I wasn’t sure where it was going, or what I wanted to write about precisely, but I tried not to judge my meanderings and just enjoyed the fact that for today at least, I wasn’t being an utterly idle lump.
What started that afternoon was the seed of an idea. A seed that, if I’m being truthful, I’d had for a while but hadn’t quite had the guts or the will to start. See, five years ago I lost my mother quite abruptly to cancer. It was all very sad and the grief was, you know, quite debilitating at times, but I knew that at some point, somewhere down the line, I wanted to write about our relationship. The mess of…
- The joy of it. The mistakes. The chaos. Each and every idiosyncratic thread of
- I suddenly had the urge to access it, I think partly through fear of forgetting
…the details of it. Of her. So I started forming a story around my own experience. Around a mother/daughter relationship. I wanted to try and articulate the never-ending search for the maternal touch. To explore where we go to find it when we don’t have access to our own mothers. What it feels like when you do find it. How it creeps up on you when you didn’t even know you needed it.
Finally, in September last year I went on a writers retreat to the amazing Ty Newydd writers’ centre up in north Wales and attended a course with Welsh new writing company Dirty Protest. I spent a week with 9 other women and playwright Tim Price and Director Cath Paskell. We talked new writing and ate bara brith until the cows came home and finally, there in the gorgeous old coastal residence of David Lloyd George, I started the first draft of what would become Do Our Best. I wrote solidly every afternoon for a week and by the end of my stay had 20 or so very rough pages under my belt.
So now I have my story. Albeit unfinished, but I know where it’s going. Sephie is a raging mess of narcissism and insecurity. Following the death of her mother, she finds herself back in the sanctuary of the Girl Guides of which she was once an avid childmember. In a last ditch attempt at fending off her eternal unhappiness and under the guidance of Brown Owl she is trying for the 3rd time to finally achieve her Entertainers badge. A comedy (yes, a comedy) about how to harness your grief, find your pack and never giving up.
Of course, this show’s going nowhere without a capable producer. As we’ve already established, I’m quite the lazy bones and getting this show from paper to stage seems like quite the heave. I go for a coffee date one lovely London morning with my gal-pal, Francesca Moody, and let it be known, Chesca Moods just happens to be a super-talented fantastic theatre producer. I tell her of my recent writing trip, about finding my story, about wanting to take a show to Edinburgh and over an almond croissant and hot piping tea she offers to produce my show for me! I mean… thrilled. THRILLED!
(Gushy Side-note here –I love that a woman has championed me getting this show made, I love that I have been supported and encouraged by another young woman – it has been joyously galvanising and inspiring and heartening.)
As I continue to write the show, drafting and re-drafting, I start to meet some talented directors, who also, happen to be women. I went on lots of dates and tried to woo them over hot drinks, hoping that they liked my script. That’s when Hannah Bannister, director extraordinaire entered my life. She is so clear of thought, her brain so crisp her gut so in tune that I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her. There was a shared experience of grief between us that was strong and spirited. A trusting hand.
So here I am, a month or so away from Edinburgh surrounded by a team of nearly entirely women and I have a script to head into rehearsals with. We’ll be at the London Welsh Centre in Kings Cross putting this lovesong on its feet, and I feel so full of pure joy that I could burst.
The idea of art as catharsis is something I think, in the past, I’ve found strangely uncomfortable. The thought of exposing such personal matter in my own work was something I tended to shy away from. So here I am, trying on a new me, throwing myself full throttle into the thing that almost broke me. And as life imitates art, I hope that with a little helping hand from some incredible, kick-ass women that ‘Do Our Best’ will be the cherry on top of my summers proverbial cake.
Do Our Best is on at the Underbelly throughout August