#LifeAfterSED – Drama Graduate and Puppeteer Edie Edmundson talks about her latest show

We spoke to 2015 SED Drama graduate, Edie Edmundson about her time at Queen Mary, her career so far and her latest show The Old Woman Made of Stardust which is coming to Theatre N16 on 27 October 2016. 

theoldwomanmadeofstardustTell us about ‘The Old Woman Made of Stardust’ and how the project came about?

The first glimmers of the play appeared during my final year at QM, when I rediscovered a letter my Gran wrote for me before she died. It was a beautifully written letter – some of it has made it into the show! The tone of the letter perfectly struck a balance between softening the blow for a young child (I was 8 at the time), and maintaining clarity about the reality of death. I decided to turn the letter into a play!

Things sparked into life thanks to the Queen Mary Theatre Company. I was able to put the play on as part of the New Writer’s Festival and from there it was chosen for the Fuel London Student Drama Festival. I have always loved puppetry, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between puppetry and childhood – particularly how puppet theatre can be used to help children deal with trauma. Puppets can help break down the barriers of self-consciousness and distil complicated issues.

My research – and a puppetry course I took after leaving uni – prompted me to revisit ‘The Old Woman Made of Stardust’, to develop it into something which could help promote honest and open conversations about how the grief caused by bereavement can affect children and their families.

 

What can an audience expect to experience in the show?

The show is aimed at families, and I hope it will appeal to audiences of all ages. It tells the story of Lily, a little girl who loves to look at the stars. Lily and her Gran play games together, dreaming up constellations and flying like birds. What kind of bird would you be? But when Gran dies, Lily’s vivid imagination catapults her into a strange and tangled forest as she tries to find her way through the grief and make sense of death. Lily’s world is full of magic and colour, a place of paper birds, talking foxes and shooting stars. It is a world turned upside down by the loss of her Grandmother. The play uses innovative puppetry and original music to create a magical world and tell a heart warming, hopeful story or love, loss and growing up.

 

Puppet Theatre Barge

What else have you been up to since graduating from Queen Mary?

I’ve been very busy! Straight after uni I started training to be a puppeteer on the Puppet Theatre Barge in Little Venice (a wonderful place everyone should visit!), and I did an intensive ten week course at the Curious School of Puppetry in Bethnal Green. From there, I’ve teamed up with some fellow puppeteers to start a company called Wondering Hands who use puppetry to investigate complicated issues – our other show is about sex and consent! Alongside working part time at Wilton’s Music Hall (great local venue!) and the Barbican, I’m just about to start rehearsals as a puppeteer for The Little Match Girl at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse this Christmas. It feels like a lot has happened since leaving QM….!

 

What was your favourite thing about studying at Queen Mary?

Studying Drama at QM really opened my eyes to a wide range of live art and performance I would not have come across otherwise. The work we studied and also the incredible work created by students as part of the course and through QMTC really broadened my horizons when it came to my options post uni. The course encouraged me to interrogate art and performance and place it in a wider context in a way I had never done before – something I think is very useful for anyone considering a career in the arts! I think my favourite thing about QM in general probably has to be the location… the East End has so many great venues and interesting things going on. And coming from a small town in Devon, the chance to meet people from all over the world was brilliant.

 

What advice would you give current students that you wish you’d known before starting at university?

Get involved in societies! It was my involvement with the Theatre Company which introduced me to some fantastic friends and helped me gain some valuable practical skills. There are so many great societies at QM, and they need students to make them grow! I wish I’d had the confidence to get more involved with political societies such as QM Equality, I was always hovering on the fringes but never quite got stuck in. I think now more than ever students need to have a voice, and it’s getting together for common goals in societies that can give people the experience and community needed to make things happen!

Autumn SED Events & Arts Preview 2016

The changing of the seasons means a whole new batch of SED students and we’re really excited to present a lot of in house events as well as champion the diverse cultural highlights London has for 2016.

Chez nous (French) / At Our Gaff (Cockney)

English Postgraduate Research Seminar

A weekly English research seminar that takes place every Thursday during the first and second semesters of the academic year.

  • 29 September: Prof Catherine Maxwell (Queen Mary), ‘Carnal Flowers, Charnel Flowers: Perfume in the Decadent Literary Imagination’
  • 6 October: Pub Quiz at the SCR bar, Queens’ Building, Mile End campus.
  • 20 October: Dr Ewan James Jones (University of Cambridge), ‘Thermodynamic Rhythm / The Poetics of Waste’
  • 27 October: Prof Nicholas Royle (University of Sussex), title TBC.
  • 3 November: Dr Clara Dawson (University of Manchester), ‘Letitia Landon: Close Reading Print Culture in the 1820s.’
  • 24 November Kathryn Allan, (UCL), title TBC.

Download the programme here

Quorum

Hear about the latest developments in theatre and performance with engaging research seminars plus free drinks and nibbles at the School.

  • 5 October: Bridget Escolme – Nostalgia for empire in Shakespeare costuming – Rehearsal Room 2
  • 19 October: Philip Crispin Translating Un Tempête – Rehearsal Room 2
  • 2 November: Namita Chakrabarty [auto ethnography and Critical Race Theory in Theatre Application on disaster – Pinter Studio
  • 16 November: Aylwyn Walsh [terrorism and incarceration] – Rehearsal Room 2
  • 30 November: Margharita Laera [Giorgio Stehler and the Piccolo Teatro] – Rehearsal Room 2
  • 14 December: Joe Kelleher [Economies of Art]

All details of these events are subject to change please sign up below for the latest.

Also keep an eye out for:

  • Free taster lectures at our next Open Day
  • A Season of Bangla Drama

Everybody is welcome at these events but please do sign up here to get further details and invites to our events:

And the best from London…

We asked folks on Twitter to send in suggestions about events happening near us (featured below) below but it’s not too late to add yours.

Tweet us your #SEDautumnwonders

 

Caoimhe Mader McGuinness

Station House Opera - Photo by Jospeh Buttigieg

Penelope Woods

  • Donmar Warehouse’s Shakepeare Trilogy: An all female Shakespeare season in a new 420-seat in-the-round temporary theatre at King’s Cross.

donmar-warehouse-750x375

 

Markman Ellis

newlondonshoot4

 

Rupert Dannreuther

  • Barbican Open Fest – Saturday 8 October: A free festival at the UK’s largest cultural hub including films, performances and a new designers’ market.
  • VISIONS at The Nunnery – 5 October-18 December: A festival on our doorstep in Bow of short films and performances.

openfest

 

Shane Boyle

Elections Watch: Keep an eye out for events popping up in London about the US elections in the run up to polling day on 8 November, it’s sure to be a fascinating time politically.

 

 

3 Book Launches Coming Up including Star Trek: The Human Frontier

Here’s a quick round up of some of the book launches coming up in autumn 2016 within our School and beyond…

Star Trek: The Human Frontier by Michele Barrett & Duncan Barrett

Thursday 8 September – Charterhouse Square, London EC1

RSVP here

Our very own Professor Michèle Barrett with her son Duncan Barrett is launching an updated version of Star Trek: The Human Frontier a study of humanity through the lens of the popular TV and film series.

 

‘Star Trek has been subject to a lot of scrutiny by literary and cultural critics … The bad conscience that many have about serious discussion of popular culture means that Star Trek can still be read simplistically, as a stalking-horse for denouncing the modernity of the American century. The Barretts are more subtle. A television series is a product of a variety of creators and so, inevitably, a rich complex of signs, hints and idealisms. There is no final reading of Star Trek, just an endless journey.’

–          Book of the Day, The Independent

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion by Professor Gareth Stedman Jones

Tuesday 4 October from 6.30pm – ArtsTwo Lecture Theatre, QMUL Mile End Campus

Book a free ticket here

Our friends in the School of History are hosting a book launch with their tutor Professor Stedman Jones’ (author of this new Marx biography) joining Dr Tristram Hunt MP (author of a recent biography of Friedrich Engels) to debate around the issues raised in the book.

 

Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People’s Enterprise by Joy White

Wednesday 19 October – Bow Arts Centre

Book a free ticket here

A local launch of a key study in grime music and its related enterprise as a key component of the urban music economy at the lovely Bow Arts Centre.

 

Did we miss a book launch? Please drop us an email and we’ll add in.

Meet the School of English and Drama at our October Open Day

Our autumn open day on Saturday 8 October 2016 is now open for registration and we’d be delighted to meet you then.

Register here

Open Day – Saturday 8 October 2016 – 10am-4pm

Get to know our Undergraduate programmes and take a tour of our East London campus on our college open day in October.

At our open day you can get the chance to:

  • Soak in the world of Queen Mary’s English and Drama programmes with some taster seminars.
  • Understand the application process and ask any burning questions to our friendly academic staff team.
  • Most importantly meet our students who can share their own experiences of our programmes.

Register online here

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