The Roxy has been a venue on and off for years, but it seems that this new incarnation is trying to be more consistent in presenting work. What inspired this project at this venue?
That’s absolutely right, we are working to present a programme with consistency so that audiences know we’re here and that there’s always something to see. In a relatively short space of time we’ve got to the point where a consistent programme has emerged, and that’s really down to the demand from artists in Edinburgh for spaces at our scale. Assembly is the longest-running of the multi-venue operators at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Edinburgh is a part of our identity, so we want to be here for the city all year round. It’s been truly exciting to see the way the Edinburgh arts community has taken the venue to heart. The generosity with which they’ve brought ideas and thrown support behind us has been wonderful, and that is what’s enabled us to put together such an exciting programme for 2019 so far.
Do you have any vision for the position of the venue within the Scottish and Edinburgh theatre communities?
The Roxy is beginning to emerge as a venue where the work of some of the most innovative and diverse Scottish companies and artists can be found alongside some of the UK’s boldest touring companies. We’ve aimed to listen to what artists want from a venue, and to be more than just a building for one show, but to establish a relationship with artists and companies who will feel they can keep coming back to us. Because Assembly is so well known for presenting work across a range of disciplines, including theatre, comedy, cabaret, live music and entertainment, there’s a huge range of work that our year-round programme draws on and a huge range of artists based in Scotland making work across those genres, as well as interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary artists. Many of those companies and artists draw big audiences during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so to have a venue with three very different spaces that can showcase that work in Edinburgh year-round is incredibly exciting.
And is this reflected in the programming for the current season?
Very much so. We were adamant that the programme should demonstrate a solid commitment to Scotland-based artists, across a range of disciplines and I think we’ve achieved that. We’re incredibly proud to be co-hosting the very first Edinburgh International Improv Festival with the Scottish Storytelling Centre; one of Scotland’s most exciting dance companies, Joan Clevillé Dance, with The North, Leyla Josephine’s latest show, Daddy Drag, Company of Wolves returning to the Roxy, and lots more besides. These are all artists who at the top of their game, creating unmissable experiences that speak to us about who we are as a community, and as people in society. To have the opportunity to present that work alongside ground-breaking new writing from across the UK such as Approaching Empty, and world-class comedians like Russell Kane is thrilling.
Do you feel there is a need for a new venue at this scale in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh has such a vibrant year-round theatre scene, but space for artists is precarious, especially at the present moment, and that’s been keenly felt since the closure of the Arches. Opportunities for artists are becoming increasingly scarce and it’s crucial that there are spaces for artists to grow and develop. We’ve been overwhelmed with support from across the arts community both in Edinburgh and beyond. As rich as the theatre, dance and comedy scene is in Edinburgh, a diversity of spaces is crucial to making a diverse range of work. Ultimately the beneficiaries of that breadth of choice will be the audience.