Have you ever wondered how theatre, circus, dance and 100 onions can turn into a great performance? You need not any longer, as Wild Onion combines it all. At the Edinburgh Fringe this year, the show brings deeper meaning to the root vegetable as it is incorporated into the stories of the characters.
Artistic Director of Orange Skies Theatre, Daisy Minto, has told us a little more about this intriguing piece below.
Please may you give us a little overview of what can be expected with Wild Onion?
WILD ONION is a celebration of friendship and support networks - so you can expect to be brought into quite an intimate group of friends, and learn about their personal challenges and triumphs whilst being thoroughly entertained by the silly circus, dance and performance art antics they get up to together. There are hilarious moments, bizarre moments and plus tear-jerking moments from onions and high emotional stakes. It’s a show like none you’ll have experienced before, mainly as it has such a distinctive smell.
How have you creatively linked a variety of different genres- theatre, dance and circus?
We made WILD ONION by thinking about how what we’re doing on stage builds story and character. So the show is made of lots of tasks and actions that put together in a certain way tell a story. We’ve thought about this show as making theatre out of circus, dancing and performance art. The best way to share this in a nutshell is through the cyr wheel moment in the show; it's positioned in the story as an alternative for journaling as a way of expressing difficult emotions, so it’s a circus discipline you see, but how you see it in it’s context makes it theatre.
Why were onions your root vegetable of choice… and a hundred of them?
We started with the show title. We came across a quote that likened young people to weeds, specifically wild onions. So the title started there, then when we stared to make the show we just instinctually KNEW onions had to be a big part of what we were doing. They’re a great sensory material; how many shows have you been to where the smell is a big part of the experience? There’s also so many different types, all with different uses, textures, shapes and colours that they offered a lot to us creatively. They're are so humble and such a mainstay, that they reminded us of friendships. So there is pretty much an onion in every scene that’s somehow integral to what is happening. There is also a very cute ecological reason why the onion resonates so well with the show - but that’s giving away the ending! So you’ve gotta come see (and smell) the show to find out what that is!
How does this work logistically?
‘Why does that person have so many onions?’ was something I heard a small child say to their parent I was sat next to on the bus a few weeks ago! Haha! We are often known to be carrying onions between venues on public transport. As onions can keep for quite a long time, we gather the ones that don’t get smashed up in the show and use them for the next few shows (we have some onions that we bought in Norwich, that then starred in the shows in Brighton). We also take some home and cook with them! There’s a big bag of leftover onions currently in my living room waiting to come on the train with me to Edinburgh… We are very sorry for whoever is programmed after us in our venue because we can’t really do much about the lingering smell…
Can you give us a taste of the ‘eclectic playlist’ used?
OH YEAH. There are some ace tracks in the show, opening with French indie-troncia track Ani Kuni by Polo et Pan, getting classic with You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield , and whimsical 80s with Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
The music is a HUGE part of the feeling of the show - it drives the action, the emotion, and brings a lot of pop cultural context to WILD ONION. For example there’s a lot of queer artists/stories in the playlist, some anticapitalist undertones, and a lot of French & European artists. It reflects us as the cast, and knits together more of our stories by the music we choose to express ourselves through in the moment.
How have you balanced the serious underlying topics that the characters face with the fun and excitement of the piece?
There's light and low in everything in life and WILD ONION reflects that. So some of the heaviest moments we’ve chosen to explore in really ridiculous ways - you can watch this show and see it all as really fun and silly, or you can watch it and see a lot of depth, difficulty and conflict. WILD ONION is the kind of show that can meet you where you’re at.
The 3 main storylines are there for audiences to see something of themselves in within - so everyone will bring a different understanding to what they’re seeing based on how they can relate. We often see this most in women & non-binary folks being more effected by Rach’s storyline around fear towards men, because they pick up on it most strongly. Men in the audience see a smashed leek and they just think it’s a smashed leek - women and non-binary people see it as a smashed patriarchy. We also wanted this show to be joyful and hopeful, so there’s a really beautiful ending that wraps that up really nicely and leaves audiences boogying and having a hug on the way out.
Can you tell us a bit about the community collaboration for the project?
Wherever we tour to we partner with local community gardens and growing projects to compost our onions, reducing the waste of our production and connecting the arts community and gardening community! We’ve visited 5 gardens so far, from a school allotment at Norwich School, to a beautiful garden built on what was a very boring pavement at an intersection. Wherever we’ve visited, stories about the friendships made at these spaces have come to the fore, and how tending to nature and nurturing people are similar generous and vital practices. For our performances in Edinburgh, we are partnered with the Gove Fountainbridge Community Garden to compost our onions!
Why should people see your show, and where would you like to take it next?
People should come and see this show to feel joy, hope, and a profound love for their friends. It’s hilarious and heartfelt in equal measure and is something you can only experience in the live moment - plus there is some serious circus, acrobatics, dance and lip-synch skills on show. Plus you want to be the person who can say ‘oh yeah I saw the show with all the onions!' Next we will be hitting up the Royal and Derngate in Northampton in the Autumn, and the plan is to tour the UK in 2023!
Big thanks to Daisy for telling us more about what sounds like a brilliant show! Best of luck for the run, and going forwards.
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