Interview: Ashley Winter

Ashley Winter is the co-founder of Attila Theatre, who are currently performing Skin Deep at the Camden Fringe. We caught up with her to find out about  her work, Attila Theatre and their latest show. 
AT: Hi Ashley, tell us a little about you and how you came to work in the arts…
AW: I completed a degree in Film & Theatre at the University of Reading back in 2011 and after that, went on to train with Fourth Monkey. I have never been the type to just want to be an actor though, I knew I wanted to make my own work so I teamed up with fellow Reading grad Christopher Montague and started a theatre company!
AT: And how did Attila theatre start?
AW: After finishing uni, Chris and I wanted to make some work so we applied to perform at the Reading Fringe Festival in 2013. We cast other Reading graduates and rehearsed in living rooms and borrowed rehearsal space and made our first show Shoot. Get Treasure. Repeat. By Mark Ravenhill. It was very student-y and on-the-nose but I’m proud of it nonetheless! We started with very little idea about our mission as a company- choosing to see what naturally interested us as theatre-makers and we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re very invested in telling stories about women in ‘traditionally male realms’. A male impersonator in a cabaret, a female video gamer, a female serial killer.

AT: Your latest piece, Skin Deep is currently performing at Camden Fringe, what inspired this piece?
AW: My obsession with Erzsébet Báthory! She’s endlessly fascinating and contradictory but is still a relatively unknown historical figure in popular culture. I also wanted to create a female-led piece that prominently features a lesbian relationship, but isn’t defined by that relationship- it’s incidental.
 
AT: Why is it an important piece for 2017?

AW: The play explores gender inequality, social inequality and what happens to affection and love when the difference between upper and lower class is so extreme. It’s a new take on a history play about a powerful woman who nevertheless is constrained by the context in which she lives. The issues that faced this Hungarian noble in the 16th Century are surprisingly (& depressingly) contemporary.

AT: What do you hope audiences will take away from watching?
AW:I hope they are entertained primarily, and maybe that they might take a look at this interesting historical figure in a different way. 
 
AT: What’s next for you? 

AW: For Attila, we’re developing a new show called Another Castle which is about mental health & video games, working with animation, projection & physical theatre which is super exciting.

For myself, I’m keen to work with more theatre-makers in the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m dismayed at the lack of representation of the community at large and in particular the lack of queer female stories and I would love to establish a collective (or link up with existing groups) of queer female artists and start to make work that reflects our experiences.

Skin Deep is on at The Camden Fringe until this Sunday, 6th August.  Book now. 

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