Edinburgh Fringe preview: Rise

Writer/perforner Diana Varco brings her new show, Rise, to Edinburgh Fringe next month.

She joins us to talk about Fringe, the production, and her writing process.

Where: The Space @ Surgeons Hall

When: 22-26 Aug, 1.55pm

Ticket link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rise

Promotional image for Rise

What are you looking forward to the most at Fringe?

I love the gorgeous city and the contagious vibe of being surrounded by art and artists. My
schedule is already filling up with shows to see!

This will be my 3rd year performing at Edinburgh Fringe! The past two years I’ve been performing my solo show Shattered – about the impact of sexual assault; and this year, I’ll be
presenting a new solo play Rise – about adverse childhood experiences.

Every year, I look forward to connecting with charities doing important work in mental health and healing – and the conversations that might come as a result of me sharing my story.

Edinburgh Fringe can be intense – full of ups and downs. So, I’m also excited to connect with fellow artists, especially first-time solo artists, to support them as best I can.

I very much enjoyed your previous show, Shattered. What is the connection between that show and this one?

Thank you! I very much appreciate your kind review of Shattered!

Rise is a prequel/sequel of Shattered and many of the characters replicate in this new chapter.

The character of Truth (from Shattered) is the steward of the show and we meet several Shattered characters along the way – Shame, Denial, Guilt, LoveBug…but also new characters too – most notably Childhood Rage, Purpose, and Writer’s Rage.

Bailiff had 1 line in Shattered,
but he has a featured role in Rise!

Ahough Rise is a prequel/sequel to Shattered, the story dives more deeply into experiences
mentioned in Shattered – for instance, college, childhood trauma, and alcohol use. So the show loosely runs parallel to Shattered and vice versa.
Wow, that is meta 🙂

With a narrator “led by a tiny spider”, Rise covers addiction, hope, heartbreak and courage through satire and magical realism. What should audiences expect?

Rise is a dynamic, carefully constructed, one-woman show of contained chaos. It takes place on
a metaphorical moon, in the space between life and death, told through 20 characters. Yet, somehow, it is totally logical.

The tiny spider is the character of my Childhood Rage that we meet early on. Indirectly, she’s the guide of the show and the story continues to point us back to her. As a result, Rise uncovers and unpacks childhood experiences and emotions lying beneath addiction – specifically alcohol use.

The satire component gives voice to judgment – in some ways judging judgment – while the magical realism component provides an opportunity to play in an otherwise difficult story.

Ultimately, I intend for audiences to be entertained, have moments of reflection, empathy, and understanding for themselves and those around them; and, above all else, hope – that no matter what we go through, we can do great things with what we’ve been given.

This is a solo show with twenty characters, written in rhyme! Where did the original idea come from?

I wish I could tell you I dreamed up the concept! But that wasn’t really the case… during the Covid lockdown in 2020, I picked up a journal one
day and started writing.

The first character that came to me was the tiny spider of my Childhood
Rage (MIS) and the opening scene with Purpose. By the end of the day, I had filled every page with what I thought might be a new show.

Since that day, I haven’t stopped writing, and Rise has proliferated into a series of new works; the first of which I’m performing this August at Edinburgh Fringe!

The script is much different than the first draft I wrote many moons ago in 2020; but after Fringe,I look forward to taking what I learn in performance and developing the rest of the material. Maybe even revisiting that journal!

When I saw Shattered, it was in digital format – is it very different for you to perform online vs on stage with a live audience?

Shattered is currently available in the C ARTS | C digital on-line programme.

It has been really fulfilling to perform Shattered live at Edinburgh Fringe and various fringes, as well as present it virtually.

I prefer performing Shattered to a live audience (as opposed to virtual) because there’s nothing like being on stage! I feed off the audience’s laughter, energy, and engagement. I also look forward to in-person talkback discussion because being present in real life connects us more

However, the ability to present virtually allows for a wider audience and a more private experience for viewers. They can take breaks as needed and watch from the comfort of their home anywhere in the world! So there are benefits to both formats.

Rise has a very different feel than Shattered. It’s existential and dramatic. The comedic elements are more subtle. Silence is almost a character of the show.

Part of my experiment in bringing Rise to Edinburgh Fringe is to understand if the show lives
digitally on camera – so that silence heightens the existential experience – or if Rise works better performed live with an audience.

Creatively it’s a really interesting question for me to