Interview: Helen Wood

Helen Wood is heading to Edinburgh with her show ‘What Kind of Fool Am I? A comedy all about her love affair with ‘personality type’ tests. You can catch it there from 5th-13th August, this week Female Arts’ Amie Taylor caught up with her to find out more.

Amie: Hi Helen, thanks for speaking with Female Arts today about your show which is called ‘What Kind of Fool Am I’, perhaps you could start by telling us what it’s about and where the idea come from?

Helen: The idea came from the fact that I’m really interested in personality types, and a particular personality system I discovered about ten years ago called the Enneagram. Having learned so much about the people in my life, and myself - and doing things in my life because of that discovery, when I came to think about what I wanted to write a solo show about it seemed an interesting idea.

Amie: So when did you start working on this piece?

Helen: That was Spring 2015 and I got together with Chris Head, who’s a comedy director and teacher who lives locally to me. I’d done a stand up course with him, and he seemed to really know his comedy, so I had him as a mentor as I set about writing it. He helped hugely with the editing, and in making my autobiographical anecdotes funny.

Amie: Ah, I’m always interested in people’s processes of making solo shows, so if that’s been your writing process, what has your rehearsal process been like?

Helen: Chris has directed it, we didn’t have masses of time together, so I did quite a bit of rehearsal before I got together with him, ensuring I really knew the lines well. I also worked with my husband, who does my technical support; we recorded lots of music and sound to accompany the show. So I did a few runs with him, and the tech - so when Chris came to direct it, he had a 78%-of-the-way-there show.

Amie: And it performed at Canal Cafe Theatre in London in March, how was that?

Helen: It was good, it’s a very different show now. It was great to do a full five days, and by the last couple of performances I felt really confident and was thoroughly enjoying it, I knew where the laughs were going to come and it had found a good pace.

Amie: In terms of audience are you targeting a specific audience, or do you feel there’s a demographic that this will specifically speak to?

Helen: I would say that it seems to appeal to women more than men, though I’ve had some nice feedback from men, but a lot of women have come up to me after and said that they could really relate, that there were a lot of things that happened to me that mirrored the choices they made and things that they did, and it really made them think about them. So in terms of that it seems to appeal to middle aged women, which I think is my target audience.

Amie: Yes, and obviously other people are likely to enjoy it too, but actually it’s excellent that there is a certain group of people it speaks to. And it’s great because middle aged women are a really under-represented group of people on stage, so although they enjoy seeing other stuff, there’s something about seeing a character that you identify with that feels important. Is there anything else you hope people will take away from watching?

Helen: Well, I hope they’ll have laughed and it will have lightened their day. It’s a late morning slot at Edinburgh, at 5 to noon. So I imagine it will be the first show of the day, so I hope it sets them up and that they go away thinking, ‘that was a good start to my day and now I can go and see something dark and mysterious’. And when they leave they get a handout of the 9 different personality types talked about in the show, so I encourage them to go and have a nice lunch and work out which personality they are. And I hope that they may become fans of the system as well, so there is a little bit of Evangelical-ness about it. If that’s a word. [They laugh].

Amie: Where is it on?
Helen: The Space at Surgeons Hall, Nicholson Street at five to twelve.

Amie: Anything else you’d like to mention?

Helen: The dog! There’s a life sized labrador toy in it. For the dog lovers.

Amie: Hurrah.

You can book to see Helen’s show here: https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/event/565235-what-kind-of-fool-am-i/

© @AmieAmieTay 2016

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