Readers may remember that we interviewed Nataša Stanić Mann back in February 2021, focusing on her latest work, The Return. You can read that last interview on the link at the end of this post and find out more about Nataša’s background. Nataša is now taking The Return to the Edinburgh Fringe so we took the opportunity to catch up with her and find out more.
1.Could you tell us what has been happening with you and The Return since we last spoke over a couple of years ago?
The Return has been developed further and is quite different now from when it was first performed and livestreamed in front of an online audience. The second Arts Council England grant made it possible to collaborate more extensively with a creative team. This means more ideas, more colours were added, and I believe the piece is now richer and complete. We performed it at the Camden Fringe, Newham Unlocked Festival, Voila! Europe Festival and it toured to Bristol’s Alma Theatre earlier this year. Having this live audience experience made the piece much more alive and relevant.
2. I understand you are now collaborating with creative producer, Dahna Borojević, who we have also spoken to before. Can you tell me how this collaboration came about and what Dahna brings to the production?
As I’ve mentioned the ACE grant allowed for a creative team to come on board and I was looking for a Producer who could help take the show onto the next level, increase exposure and develop a tour. Dahna has recently completed her MA in Creative Producing and started building her theatre producing experience in the UK. We are obviously both from Croatia and share an interest in contemporary theatre, so she was an ideal candidate. It is great to have a Producer on board and it takes the production weight off me so I can focus my creative energy on the piece. It’s also great having someone working beside you who can balance the creative and the business side of the production.
3. What led you to taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe? Have you been there before, either as a visitor or creative, and what are you looking forward to most about it, on and off the stage?
I always wanted to have an experience of performing at Edinburgh Fringe, but I used to ran a festival in Croatia – Festival of Visual Theatre Labin, that was happening at the same time as the Fringe, and after that I was caring for a small child, and then there was a pandemic, so now finally the time has come! I visited last year and fell in love with the Fringe. It is the biggest theatre festival in the world with more than 3,000 shows taking part and 2.2 million tickets were sold last year. Being in this industry for over 20 years, it feels necessary to have my own Edinburgh Fringe episode. Fringe is a unique platform for promotion of your work and there are numerous opportunities that come with taking part.
4. How is the Crowdfunding going?
We are grateful for all the generous donations so far, have reached half of our goal and are hoping for that final push in the last couple of days – it finishes on the 28th June at 2.03pm, so hurry up everyone! We are lucky that we have been able to cover some of the initial costs, but it is very expensive to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe. A company or an independent artist, in my case, has to cover a lot of the costs in advance – registration fee, marketing fee, venue hire deposit, insurance, accommodation, travel etc. It all adds up to a lot and then if things go well and the show sells you can get this money back and hopefully pay yourself a little for all the hard work. There is a very limited funding available for taking the show to the Fringe.
The Return Crowdfunding Link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/the-return
Yes, we are so happy that the show has been selected by Omnibus Theatre in Clapham to be part of their Edinburgh Previews programme and it will perform on 16th and 17th July. We will also be touring to Theatre@41 in York, as part of the Connect Festival, and to Guiseley Theatre in Leeds, prior to taking the show to Edinburgh.
6. How do you feel The Return has evolved since the very first performance and what would the audience get now that may not have been apparent before.
I believe that the themes of the show are much clearer now, and the show has more of an arch, taking the audience on a more solid journey. I hope it’s also more entertaining and it has a subtle humour throughout. I particularly like the metatheatre aspect of the piece and we pushed for the audience participation in the show. The storyline is deliberately fragmented to reflect the show being about a memory and the effects of war.
7. Do you have a particular target audience?
I hope that the show will resonate with people who have been through a similar experience of living through a war or have been affected by conflict. People in some way connected to Croatia or former Yugoslavia might find the show appealing and people interested in contemporary and experimental theatre. Also, those who want to get an insight into migrant experience and people interested in history.
8. How do you see the future, both for you and The Return? Do you have any new works in mind and are you any nearer taking The Return to audiences in Croatia?
I’d love to share my experience of working on The Return, teach more devising workshops and develop participation and outreach. I’d love for the show to transfer to a London venue for a longer run, and to develop a wider national tour. It would be interesting to take The Return to Croatia. Some parts would need to be adjusted to speak more to the Croatian audiences living in Croatia. But we don’t have any concreate plans to take the show to Croatia, yet. I do have another piece simmering in the background. It’s all still in the form of ideas and thoughts and we have had a few brainstorming sessions, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate to start revealing too much at this point. I hope to start working on the new piece around the middle of next year and hopefully share a work in progress sometime next summer.
9.Where can we find out more?
On my website – www.natashastanicmann.com or follow me on social media:
FACEBOOK @natasha.stanicmann | INSTA @natashastanicmann | TWITTER @nstanicmann
Many thanks to Nataša for some fascinating insights and good luck at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Thanks to Domagoj Dragaš for the first and third photo in the body of the text, and to Finn Daragh for the main photo and the last one.
And here’s the link to the previous interview Nataša Stanić Mann Brings Movement Theatre, Live, To A Virtual Audience