PRAGUE DIALOGUE: BONNIE FECHTERS
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Bonnie Fechters

By Morna Burdon (Scotland)

photography by Matteo Sostizzo

Prague Fringe is a boutique curated festival of mostly English speaking performance work.

There’s around sixty shows in this year’s festival. 

So. This weekend just gone, Doppelgangster’s COLD WAR toured to Prague for the city’s 18th annual Fringe Festival.

Now. Dr Tom Payne has returned to Sheffield. Tobias Manderson-Galvin has stayed in Prague.

Here, the two discuss the shows Tobias has witnessed despite Tom having no point of reference other than the festival programme and his attendance at the opening night speed fringing event

 

– Tobias + Tom

Bonnie Fechters

Morna Burdon (Scotland)

 

PAYNE How was Bonnie Fechter?

M-G Bonnie Fechters?

PAYNE Hang on, is her name not-

M-G According to Morna Burdon – the sole performer of Bonnie Fechters – A Bonnie Fechter is someone who stands up for themselves or for what they believe in.

PAYNE I think I called her Bonnie…

M-G I’m sure that’s not an insult.

PAYNE Still… How was the show?

M-G So, it was a collection of songs – and the songs ranged from popular protest pieces to genuinely obscure; but you know as much as the songs it was her well-researched and often personally connected stories that drew a sense of the real- or maybe, yes, the immediate to stories that ranged hundreds of years. Morna has a beautiful voice and the choices of songs were beautiful, and moving, and inspiring but perhaps I almost expected that, so ultimately it was her ability to position them in a historical, social and political context that gave them the weight that elevated them. The stories transported us to the time and place of the songs. So in that respect – this is a very moving show.

PAYNE  You were moved. Moved to action?

M-G Oh I was oscillating between angry tears,  and shouting for revolution.

PAYNE A Glorious Revolution!

M-G Is that- why is that capitalised? Are you shouting?

PAYNE The Glorious Revolution was a famous Scottish revolution from, the 1600s.. I better look it up. 1700s. I’m not sure if they’re proud of it.

M-G Who was revolting?

PAYNE It’s about Mary deposing her father King James VII.

M-G So Bonnie Fechters, it was about women led revolts. Though not about the swapping of a king for a queen. About little people, with little people problems. And in keeping with the spirit of little people – it was in an intimate venue, at the Museum of Alchemists, stars painted on the walls, some dark blue velvet drapes.

PAYNE Plush. I’ve never been. Is there gold there?

M-G Morna was a guiding star at the centre. Though I mean it doesn’t feel like Bonnie Fechters is an intrinsically theatrical work. I think it would be just as worthy on the radio. Or I did until we were all singing along together.

PAYNE Yes, that’s “the magic of theatre”! You know, people sharing a space together for a time. Radio can never do that.

M-G And I suppose for a work about live protest, you can only have that live.

PAYNE Did you go to a Ceilidh one night too?

M-G I danced with a beautiful Czech woman-

PAYNE I’m always surprised by how much fun it is to swing this way and that with strangers.

M-G Are you- this is the second review you’ve mentioned swinging. And you’re right the Ceilidh did have a sort of 70s feel to it. Like apricot chicken. And fondue.

PAYNE And pampas grass.

M-G  But then due to a little mix up in my understanding of how far to spin around – to the stern acceptance of the Czech/Scott men – I danced the role of a woman for a half hour or so.

PAYNE And what did you take away from the experience?

M-G I don’t love how you have to crook your wrist.

PAYNE The injustice.

M-G One particularly hirsute and muscled fellow did treat me like a princess though so I think I have no regrets.

PAYNE  And Bonnie… sorry, Bonnie Fechters?

M-G The range of injustices from witch burnings, suffragettes, strikers, a modern photojournalist. It could be meaningless without adequate context or crushing without the beauty of the songs – in Morna’s hands it’s all inspirational stuff.

PAYNE How many ‘Union Maid’s out of five?

M-G Five (bread and) roses out of five.

Seeeee you, Prague

xxx

Doppelgangster will have more post-show dialogues as fringe unfolds

 

praguefringe.com