Ferment Fortnight Preview | Wild Swimming

21 Jan 2019

Ferment Fortnight returns to its rightful Studio home this January! Here, Julia Head of FullRogue gives us an inside look at their upcoming sharing, Wild Swimming. Catch it Thu 24 & Fri 25 Jan.

Hello. My name is Julia. I’m the director of FullRogue’s show Wild Swimming and Team Leader for the entire company.

If you’re asking yourself what this is all about, the short answer is that we want you to come and see a work in progress of our show. It’s called Wild Swimming. It’s on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th of January, in the studio at Bristol Old Vic. It’s a fiver. You should feel free to stop reading now.

If you want a longer answer, then you’re probably asking yourself a series of other questions. Questions like: ‘Why should I care about this show?’ ‘What’s in it for me?’ ‘Will I get value for money, in terms of cultural capital accrued, in exchange for my initial five pound outlay?’.

I can’t answer these questions. Only you can answer these questions, in hindsight, having seen the show. That is the nature of theatre I am afraid. It’s not like buying a Twix. 


Basically, the marketing department at Bristol Old Vic wanted me to write some thoughts down in case you weren’t sure whether to come to our show. And Ben (Ferment Ben) wanted us to write something so you would know this is not a finished show yet. So this is me now… thinking aloud… I guess. Ready? Okay.

I am a woman
I feel like a masculine woman and I LOVE that.

Me and my friend (a man) were having a conversation about two years ago, we chatted about lots of stuff for a very long time because we were probably drunk. He almost certainly was drunk. Eventually he said to me ‘sometimes, Julia, I wish I was born in the Victorian times, because I think I would have been more successful back then’.

I have every confidence that he doesn’t remember saying this. But, ever since that conversation I wanted to make a play about men. And feminism. And I wanted a man to write it. I wanted the MAN to write it, and I wanted this man to have to DEFEND ALL MEN, at once, in one play. Mainly because I then wanted to get really angry, destroy some stuff, and shout loudly at him.

So I approached Marek. He is our tame playwright now, but at the time he was probably the most arrogant man I had ever met. I told him my idea.

He hated the idea.

Then I told him that the final show would be only a partial construction of his play, that it would be about deconstructing and potentially DESTORYING his play, live, onstage, in front of friends and family, industry people and maybe, one day, Sir Nicholas Hytner himself. (I Think Nick Hytner might actually be Marek’s dad? He certainly talks about him, like he’s his dad. I hope he doesn’t come).

Marek hated this even more. But, I convinced him to come into rehearsal rooms and to see what I meant.

He came into these rooms with me eventually, primarily to shut me up. These rooms were full of costumes and snacks and toys and actors and fun and joy and vandalism and laughter, and he hated it so much it made him a bit sick in his mouth.

And then he realized that he was actually terrified.
And that being terrified might actually be good.
And out of this tension FullRogue was formed.

It’s not just us now. We picked up our Creative Producer, Joseff, somewhere along the way…He’s a pretty calming presence. He helps us to balance out all our anger. He’s like a mindfulness app or a cricket umpire. He's also created some music for the show which sounds like Vivaldi walking into a Berlin techno bunker.

We also have actors that we like to use again and again. They like working with us because we bring lots of snacks. Our snack table includes things like biscuits and crisps but also oranges and lentils. Many actors are severely undernourished, and have rickets and gout. By coming to our show you are helping us to keep at least three actors alive until next panto season.

As a company we want to do two things:

  • Develop new texts
  • Stress test said texts in live performance.

Wild Swimming is our first try at all of this, which is why it would be really good to have you there.

It’s a play (kind of) about 400 years of British history… It’s also about swimming… and poetry… and two people called Oscar and Nell, who keep meeting on this beach.

We made it by doing lots of swimming, in the ocean, in Dorset; by listening to David Byrne albums; by looking at paintings by Leonora Carrington and pictures of Maggi Hambling looking really cool. We did it by reading Virginia Woolf, getting Marek to cook food for us, and dressing up in fun costumes.

We’ve made it with loads of awesome people with far bigger brains than us.

Ferment Fortnight is a space that allows audiences into our creative process to help us form what our final show will look like. So, we need YOU SPECIFICALLY (insert name here) to be there.

It has been really fun for this to be our lives for a bit, but don’t just sit there being all jealous because you hate your job, and you no longer love your life partner, and you’re scared because the world is dying. Forget your petty human problems for a while. Come and join the fun instead. 

We hope you like what we’ve made. 

Ferment Fortnight commences at Bristol Old Vic 22 Jan - 2 Feb. For more info and to book tickets, click here.