Edinburgh Festival Fringe: My Festival - Kat Woods
The Irish writer/director on ADHD impulsivity, nightly gratitude lists, and having a very flexible jaw.
What are you doing at this year’s festival?
Birds of Passage in the Half Light at the Gilded Balloon. What I'm actually doing is walking the streets of Edinburgh crying at the lovely things people are saying about the show!
What do you most want to see this year and why?
I have a few mates from London who I was on the BBC Writers Room with who are both amazing humans and incredible writers - Marcelo dos Santos and Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen and Dipo Baruwa-Etti Half-Empty Glasses. Then there's the glorious Tabby Lamb and Happy Meal and Rafaella Marcus's Sap, and of course there is a whole gorgeous contingent from Northern Ireland - Two Fingers Up, Billy Boy, and In the Name of the Son.
What’s your favourite place in the city and why?
I love everything about Edinburgh and Scotland. I think being from County Fermanagh, a small rural county, my soul thrives in cities that co-exist with beautiful landscapes. Coupled with friendly locals, gorgeous hospitality staff and you simply have my heart. The Irish and Scottish are like culture sisters so it very much feels like home from home.
Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?
This is my fifth Edinburgh and one of the best things is randomly bumping into other creatives that you have met previously and having catch up chats whilst flyering.
What do you remember about your first ever Edinburgh festival appearance?
My first Edinburgh was a baptism of fire back in 2014 and we were in the kitchen space of the Merchants Hall! I took out credit cards, a bank loan and waitressed 45/50 hour weeks to get myself and my show Belfast Boy to our fringe venue. I didn't quite think the repaying of all the debt through though and it took years! I blame the idealism of coming from a lower socioeconomic demographic and climbing the Tory social mobility ladder coupled with ADHD impulsivity!
What are the best and worst things that have happened to you in Edinburgh
Every year that I have been here something incredible has happened. Belfast Boy transferred to Finland, Wasted transferred to America for a tour and we stayed on Paul Newman's Connecticut ranch with his daughter. Mule had a London run and Killymuck has been published and got me into the BBC Writers Room. Also the friends that I have made along the way. The worst thing is returning this year and seeing that my favourite cafe Spoon closed. I worked for 25 yearsin hospitality waitressing and managing restaurants and coffee shops, and it's such a sad thing thinking about people who have lost jobs in that industry mainly due to the pandemic.
How was lockdown for you? Did it change you, and if so how?
I was a home in Fermanagh for most of lockdown but had to move three times which I would most definitely not recommend! I struggled to write and felt like my brain was broken. I think I keep saying aloud that I was fine but I wasn't. Birds of Passage is the first play that I have had on since we done Killymuck at Ed fringe back in 2018. It took me two years to write, imposter syndrome stole me for a good chunk of lockdown. The first draft I did was a series of drawings and my amazing patient director Patrick never once made me feel less then for the process that was happening and without that and his guidance the play wouldn't be here today.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I can fit my whole fist in my mouth. A dentist once told me I had a very flexible jaw which is ideal for wisdom tooth extraction!
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Turn the five alarms off and keep snoozing until I'm late for life!
And what’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?
I try to do a gratitude list. Sometimes I forget and just stay awake until 4am doom scrolling or leaving friends long voicenotes which they can never play at x2 speed because my nordy accent is far to fast to begin with!
Thanks for the interview! We’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?
Soooooo I'm actually sober – four years on the 2nd December. Woo hoo. But I'm still stacks of craic so anywhere and anything non-alcoholic. I love a dance floor or live band!
Birds of Passage in the Half Light, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), until 29 August.