Caro Meets Children's Show Interview Theatre Interview

Josie Dale-Jones: Me & My Bee

By | Published on Thursday 1 February 2018

ThisEgg’s Edinburgh Fringe hit ‘Me & My Bee’ has a great long tour on the agenda, and luckily for Londoners, it includes more than one stop in the capital. It’s a family show about how we need to do more to help our own environment, described by our very impressed reviewer as “totally unpredictable and engrossing”.

To find out more about the show, and the brains behind it, I spoke to producer, creator and performer Josie Dale-Jones.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the concept of the show? What happens in it? Is there a narrative?
JD-J: Recent media attention given to the plight of bees sparked conversations about how we can make a show to do more to help. Apparently, Albert Einstein said that without the bees, humans have 4 years left to live. We rely on bees to pollinate one third of the crops we use as food. ‘Me & My Bee’ is a political party, disguised as a party party, disguised as a show. The main narrative strand is a love story between a bee and flower that turns into a building…

CM: What themes does it focus on?
JD-J: The show is about bees, yes, but it’s also about their effect on our own ecosystem. We hope the show makes audiences think about how to take care of the smaller things, cause and effect, and how to respect the planet we live on, before it’s too late. This show is just as much about humans as it is about bees, but bees are a good start.

CM: It sounds as though there are some fairly serious issues being discussed, really… how do you go about framing those so that they are accessible for a younger audience?
JD-J: The bees dying out is a serious issue, but we always try to take a more positive angle. To us, that comes hand in hand with laughter. With comedy you can be more brutal or honest because it’s done in a funny way. ThisEgg’s style of delivery (much of it being direct address and playing with the liveness of the here and now) makes the show accessible to all ages. The main thing we tried not to do when making the show was ‘dumb things down’ just because children were going to be in the audience – they are smart!

CM: Is it your intention to influence these young minds? Do you think it can be done?
JD-J: Absolutely the intention and I really hope it can be done. The earlier young people can be made aware of their own impact on the environment and how they can create positive change, the better. Then it’s just part of their everyday and the rest is history. Or so we hope…

CM: It’s a devised show, isn’t it? How does your devising process work?
JD-J: Yes! Because I work with a different group of people on every show, the process changes too – everyone brings new skills and ideas to a project. Generally speaking though, there will be a lot of improv, possibly followed by bits of writing, some choreography, anything and everything! It’s always about the fun though – the things we enjoy doing, and making each other laugh.

CM: The show won acclaim and awards in Edinburgh in the summer. Have those accolades made it easier for you to take the show to a wider audience?
JD-J: Acclaim and awards are great – of course! They can help raise the profile of a show and company for years. They definitely haven’t made it harder and the tour we are about to go on is pretty mega, so thanks for all the support to get us there!!

CM: Tell us about ThisEgg – how did it come into being and what ethos does it have?
JD-J: I established ThisEgg with some friends at Sixth Form College in 2010 & have self-produced shows with a variety of artistic collaborators since then. The performers change depending on the project, and the project depends on what’s going on in the world (or sometimes for the people in the room) at that point in time really.

CM: What hopes do you have for the company in the future? Any grand long term plans?
JD-J: I just hope to be able to continue running ThisEgg professionally, making work with ALL the people and touring it nationally and internationally. Perhaps some screen stuff will crop up along the way. That’d be exciting too.

CM: What’s coming up after your tour, for you and the company?
JD-J: I’m currently developing two new shows: ‘UNCONDITIONAL’ and ‘dressed’.

‘UNCONDITIONAL’ is a show I am making with my mum (my real mum).  She is a theatre maker too. We’re making a show about facing the monsters! It is going to be previewing 3-5 Jul at Battersea Arts Centre.

‘dressed’ is a collaboration between ThisEgg and Made My Wardrobe. Made My Wardrobe is a project and blog my friend Lydia started in 2016. After being stripped and sexually assaulted at gun point, Lydia set out to redress herself with a new healing set of armour. We are working with 2 more of our best mates from school (one is now a dancer and one a singer). It is about making something beautiful out of something dark and traumatic. It is a celebration of female performance and friendship.

And… whilst on tour, we bee lovers are doing lots of research for another family comedy, so do watch out for that one…

‘Me & My Bee’ is on at Southbank Centre from 10-12 Feb, but returns to London on a number of occasions in the upcoming months as part of its UK tour. See this page here for the upcoming shows, and a full list of tour dates here.

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Photo: Harry Elletson