Ali Kennedy Scott: The Day the Sky Turned Black
Australia was ravaged by firestorms equalling 1500 atomic bombs in 2009. Now known as Black Saturday, this has gone down in history as Australia’s greatest natural disaster. Actress and Writer, Ali Kennedy Scott, inspired by interviews with survivors of Australia’s Bushfires, took it upon herself to write a story to portray the courage and hope of survivors as they struggled to put the shattered pieces of their lives back together. This is Ali’s first solo show and although tackling a dark subject matter, she assures us that Edinburgh audiences will also discover a touch of humour hidden amidst the adversity.
Your show is inspired by the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires, known as Australia’s greatest natural disaster. How have you managed to portray this in a live event on stage?
The Day the Sky Turned Black follows the story of 5 people who lived through the fires – 3 survivors, a journalist, and the mother of an arsonist. Each has their own unique experience, context and reaction to the fires. With such an epic event in Australia’s history, no one person’s perspective could appropriately capture it, so I tried to build a 360 degree view of the fires and, in addition, use news reports to give the facts and narrate time and place.
The show is said to include ‘unexpected humour and tremendous tenderness’. Did you intend to bring humour to the show or it this something that just emerged on writing?
One of the incredible aspects of the people who lived through this time was their ability to find humour even in these dark days. They are a real inspiration for me. Consequently, there had to be elements of humour in the show. One of the characters is a 6 year old boy who hides from the fires in a wombat hole. He is so full of life that his humour just jumped off the page.
Which moment at the Fringe best sums up the Festival?
Walking along the mile and passing new Fringe friends all flyering for their shows – one in a Cinderella costume, one dressed as a Vegas show-girl, one man yelling Zombie apocalypse reloaded at the top of his lungs. The passion for their art and love for what they do for all the world to see.
What was your weirdest experience there?
I think it’s about to happen in the Best of the Sydney Fringe photo call… I’ll let you know once it’s complete!
Here, everyone does a run of preview shows but you have taken the show all over the globe already. How do you find the audiences in different countries and what has the reception been like?
I’ve been really lucky to be able to perform the show around the world. The story really has universal themes so it has been very warmly received. In New York the audiences were the most vocal – laughing and crying through the show. It won an award for excellence in solo performance which was lovely.
In Australia, audiences have a personal connection to the show, so it can be very moving for me as a performer to see their reactions during the show. Aussies overseas have been amazing too, bringing me vegemite in case I was homesick and sharing their stories.
In the UK, audiences typically remember the fires and the themes tend to resonate strongly. People often stay back to share their stories. It’s pretty special to get to talk to people after the show and hear about their experiences. That’s the great thing about the Fringe… you are in and out so quickly you almost exit with the audience!
Have you had to change much of the material since your started the show?
I’ve written a new opening and the show is now narrated by the journalist, so it has changed a little.
What was the first thing you did on reaching Edinburgh?
I recovered from the long journey with a refreshing ale in one of Edinburgh’s lovely drinking establishments.
Which other acts will you be catching there?
There are so many shows I plan to see! At the top of my mind are Rob Drummond’s magical theatre show ‘Bullet Catch’. Also, the Suzuki Company of Toga at the Edinburgh Festival perform Waiting for Orestes. I’ll definitely check out all the other Best of the Sydney Fringe shows – Confession of a Grinder Addict, LadyNerd, Scientist or Comedian and Tubular Bells for 2.
What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?
Have a deep fried snickers bar and get working on my next show! (ideally on a beach in the South of France).
Why should people be heading to see you at this year’s Fringe?
PHILOSOPHICALLY: If an actor performs and nobody sees it, is she really an actor?…If you love theatre or even like it a little, you should check out The Day the Sky Turned Black. It’s made up of inspiring stories about how people pick themselves up when times get tough and ultimately about hope. It will make you laugh, cry and everything in-between.
THE CREDENTIALS: It was people’s choice for Favourite show at the Sydney Fringe, was called “Enthralling” by the New York Times, and Fringe Guru said it was “the best of the many one-actor shows” he had seen at the Fringe in 2010.
You can catch the show daily at 3pm daily at the Assembly Roxy until the 26th of August so it’s perfectly located after lunch and before dinner!