second reading Tommy and Elissa listening to Steven

When DNA, Brexit, history and diversity collide

Debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is TERRAtory, a dual timeline modern play with a tribal twist.

Essex girls with DNA tests results, tribal chiefs and conquistadors coming ashore at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Writer Elissa Nicholson’s TERRAtory is set in a 21st century Essex laden with political bias, campaign trail ethnic and cultural fearmongering, also in 16th century Hispaniola rife with colonials and superiority.

TERRAtory can be seen at Greenside’s Nicolson Square venue from 3 to 17 August.

The diverse ensemble of cast and creatives are geographically scattered between Spain, Germany, York, Southend, London, and Manchester, coming together to build the piece has been an exciting logistical challenge, and a culturally enriching experience.

This team’s members bring with them fragments of their own gene pools from the UK, New Mexico, Cyprus, Nigeria, India and probably many many other places.

After losing her Grandma Emma feels she owes it to her family to research their genealogy. Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of DNA testing Emma uncovers a surprisingly rich heritage. Fascinated, she drives on to discover herself and challenge the beliefs of those closest to her, including those of her BEXF (Best Essex Friend). Pulling on one loose thread unravels a past set in Hispaniola of the 16th century, with its tribal chiefs and conquistadors. Left with an identity which doesn’t fit anymore, Emma questions how much her ancestors define her once comfortable self.

Having listened to ex-pats with fish and chip shops in Benidorm singing the praises of Brexit, creative producer Deborah Nicholson felt compelled to commission a script from writer-daughter Elissa Nicholson who was herself brought up in a multi-lingual, multi-national environment.

Associate producer Janet Jackson Tyler-Lummer started her career as an opera singer. Janet toured Europe with the New York Harlem Opera Ensemble and was the first Black woman ever to be cast in The Phantom of the Opera.

Being associate producer and associate casting director for TERRAtory is a pleasure for Janet because this play is ‘so much more than just entertainment, this play could be a learning tool for the world.’

Young writer Elissa brought her award winning production of The Surface to The Fringe last year, having previously staged it in its fuller form at The Vaults Theatre London.

Elissa said she is: ‘Excited to be back in Edinburgh and feeling a little in awe of the talent in the ensemble of TERRAtory’ and hopes her piece ‘will leave audiences questioning any preconceptions and open a dialogue about territories and how they shape us. After all, if we don’t ask questions we can’t expect answers.’

Deborah said: ‘The current climate of Brexit, Mexican border walls, bombing of mosques and synagogues are all ominous forebodings. TERRAtory can use this platform to open discussion and debate about the ancient mobility of all of us at some point in our past.’

Venue: Lime Studio, Nicolson Square, Greenside Venue (Venue 209)

Tickets: £10 concessions/previews £8, £6, £5

Dates: 5-17 Aug 2019 (not 11), previews: 3 and 4 Aug

Time: 3pm (duration 1h)

Box Office: