Take a gender neutral bathroom, four strangers, and an hour of original music, and you have PUBLIC: The Musical. Taking on unexpected challenges, pungent opinions, and sticky conversations, how will our four fare in the confines of a public toilet? Queer-led theatre collective Stroud & Notes land at EdFringe next month with their exciting piece exploring identity, connection, and compassion, with an electrifying pop/rock score.
We sat down for a pixelated pint with spinner-of-many-plates Kyla Stroud, the show’s Composer, Co-Writer, and Co-Producer, to get up close and personal with the show’s deeply present themes, exciting musical talent, and find out what it all has to do with jugs of Sangria.
Catch PUBLIC: The Musical at Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Two) between Aug 2-28 (not 9 or 21) at 18:30. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Jake: Hey Kyla! Your new show ‘Public: The Musical’ takes on the concept of four unlikely strangers trapped together in a gender neutral toilet. The piece takes on identity, connection and compassion – so tell us a little bit about what draws those themes together and what inspired you to bring this piece to a Fringe stage.
Kyla: Hey Jake! To put it simply, we’ve taken conversations that are happening in our everyday lives and we’ve put them in a musical. We’ve made a show where the audience can watch through the glass as these four very different people struggle through the small talk, stumble on those awkward but important conversations, the chats that so many of us can relate to having with family, friends or even complete strangers. We, as a team believe it’s super important to continue the dialogue with people outside of our own circles, with differing opinions. Understanding and compassion are two of the most beautiful gifts a person can offer another person, and this show is about witnessing how that compassion between strangers can result in connection in the most unlikely of places.
Why Fringe? Well firstly, our target audience is similar to our characters… We want to put very different people in a room, give them a piece of art, and bring them together through laughter and joy, despite (or perhaps because of) those differences. You’re not going to get a more eclectic and worldly audience than at the Edinburgh Fringe!
Secondly, we’re a brand new show! Fringe is still the largest arts festival in the world and we’re excited to get Public -The Musical in front of as many people as we can in these early stages.
Jake: The show sees our four strangers awaiting the arrival of maintenance, sharing pungent opinions and sticky conversations – tell us a little bit about the process of putting the piece together and what it uncovered for you all.
Kyla: The book of this show and these complex characters have dramatically developed since the initial conception. It’s been a real journey for me (composer and co-writer) and Natalie and Hannah my co-writers, to really dig deep into who these characters are and what they represent for our audience. With Hannah, members of our cast and I not fitting in the gender binary, I would say this show has definitely helped me to articulate how I feel when having those conversations with people in my life, which was the aim of the show… to help open up the harder conversations. I think we all uncovered quite quickly after our first song sharing, that with work (Hopefully more beyond Fringe) this funny little show with catchy music, actually has the power to do so much more than just entertain, it can change a mind or at least open it up and that makes us incredibly proud.
Jake: The show features catchy bops and heartfelt ballads, covering everything from climate change, to toxic masculinity, allyship, and more. What are you hoping the audience takes away from the myriad themes you’re covering and how does the music fit into all of it?
Kyla: The themes are purposely incredibly relevant to todays society because they’re relevant in our lives (the creative team) right now. We wrote a show about what we truly care about, that affect our everyday lives. This show was born out of my own mental health struggle, not with an aim for success but with an aim to simple create something that brought me joy at a time when I was struggling to find it. I’ve never been prouder of something I’ve worked on and I’m so grateful to be working with my wonderful Stroud & Notes team who have turned this little idea into something that I truly love.
I’m a singer-songwriter by trade, in fact Musical Theatre is a fairly new world for me apart from am-dram as a teen, so the musical was always going to be based around the songs. This is a show with big topics but we weave them alongside my catchy pop/rock score and some very funny scripted moments, making it something (hopefully) unique. Music has the power to make people feel and listen and I love that! In this show and in the music, an audience can really take it in without leaving feeling too heavy, although I can’t promise tears won’t be shed. Many topics we hit upon are usually done so in way that points the finger and we wanted this show to be more about understanding than ‘blame’. Not to say that there isn’t a place for that, there definitely is… but this show is focussing on representation through conversation and compassion.
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are less than a month away?
Kyla: don’t know how, but my sister, co-writer and movement director, Natalie and I, managed to go our whole lives, up until August 2022 without heading to the Fringe. After attending as punters last year, we swore we’d go every year to come and I honestly said back in 2022 ‘imagine if we could get ‘PUBLIC’ here one day. Manifestation at it’s finest on this occasion! It’s genuinely mad to think this time last year, I had only just started the initial concept of the show and had just brought on Hannah a few months before as a Theatre Maker to help me figure out what to do next. Well, long story short, we’re now co-producers, co-writers, co-anything that needs doing really. We were so thrilled to win The Pleasance Theatre’s Charlie Hartill Fund and still can’t quite believe it’s actually happening!
As you can expect, we’re very excited and nervous to put the show out there in the world but above all we’re so proud of what we’ve achieved so far and we’re just grateful to be on this journey together as a team.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Kyla: Maybe a sangria? Deep and full of heart because of the red wine, but also light a fresh with the orange! You’ll also want a whole jug.