Paradigm Lab’s production Pink House is a play about Peri, a fifteen year old who must deal with losing her carefree way of life when her adoptive mother dies and her adoptive grandmother moves in. She must bear the burden of loss while she accustoms to living in a small, cluttered house, sharing meals and Jewish holidays with a woman she has never met.
Speaking to Vlada Nebo, director of Paradigm Lab and Pink House, we discussed the show and her experiences in putting it together. Calling the play ‘funny, tender, challenging’, she assured us that the show will bring ‘excellent new writing, complex female characters and a story of belonging that is beautifully understated and challenging’ to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.
Paradigm Lab itself is a relatively new theatre company, having been founded only two years ago after Nebo completed her undergraduate degree. Nebo explained that, ‘with Paradigm, [she has] always gone with what interests [her] in the moment, what strikes a chord and seems urgent.’ Accordingly, their first production focused on women in the film industry while their second production, earlier this year, was a community project working with immigrants living in Edinburgh. Nebo and Paradigm Lab were drawn to the Fringe this year due to its personal import to Nebo in that it has ‘been [her] dream for many years’, and its artistic import for the company as, according to Nebo, the Fringe is about ‘becoming part of this legacy of performers coming together from all over the world. It’s also about courage… because suddenly you are offering your work to a much wider audience.’
On discussing the inspiration for this play, Nebo talked about how she was ‘attracted to the way in which Pink House explores loneliness and our inherent inability to express grief’, particularly considering the balance between family drama and comedy with the plot possessing ‘so much pain in it and yet it’s such a funny [play] and so tender.’ Indeed, what is so important to Nebo is ‘the way [Pink House] portrays familial relationships between women – often complicated, uncertain and multifaceted,’ whether that is demonstrating the idea that ‘being a mother doesn’t mean you lose other parts of your identity’, or simply the concept that ‘being linked to someone with familial ties doesn’t mean unconditional love.’
In preparation for their Fringe run, Paradigm Lab organised a ‘Staged for Life’ showcase and took part in Formation Festival. They have faced a few challenges on that road to the Edinburgh Fringe, including approaching Yiddish and Hebrew in the rehearsal room as there are ‘a number of key sections [of the play]’ in these languages., Nebo explained that the ‘production manager, Olivia Rudd, and stage manager, Rachel Chung, are both Jewish so they were the ones to work on pronunciation with the actors.’
Nebo also talked about the challenge of ‘introducing the set into rehearsals’ as within the play there are ‘loads of locations and intertwining timelines, so [Laure Catalan, the set designer] put a lot of thought into making this possible in a festival setting… sleek and seamless.’ On talking about this process, Nebo mentioned that, as they are a young company, they don’t have a specific rehearsal space and that ‘it was like moving into a new home in a new country and immediately having to throw a dinner party for 100 guests.’
The show has managed to overcome these challenges and Nebo remembered how, during their performances, she heard ‘people laugh but also [saw] tears in people’s eyes.’ This production promises an intimate story that will play out these complex relationships. As Nebo says herself: ‘expect new writing that does justice to female characters. Expect to hear voices that are not usually represented.’
PQA Venues, Q2
Runs 10th-26th August
Buy tickets here
Image: Iva Dimova