After returning to Edinburgh from the competitive scene in London, French-born actress Adrienne Zitt was keen to explore opportunities for keeping her skills sharp.
Taking the initiative after discovering there were few ways for like-minded individuals to collaborate, she founded Actors Kitchen, a collective for professional actors to come together and practice.
“I put a post online” says Adrienne, recalling how she got things started over a year ago, “and was inundated with responses.”
“Glasgow’s got the Actor’s Bothy, but there was nothing in Edinburgh. All the feedback I got was positive and enthusiastic, and so Actors Kitchen was born.”
Meeting weekly at the Screen Academy in Merchiston, Actors Kitchen has a consistent core membership of around ten actors and actresses, with others contributing on a frequent basis.
“I was keen to keep it as informal as possible” Adrienne explains. “A place where people could drop-in and practice, share different skills and techniques, attend workshops given by visiting actors, that kind of thing.”
After some initial brainstorming and realising that the group had a future, thoughts began to turn to doing more than just keeping skills fresh.
“Marion Shortt first had the idea for us to put on a production” says Adrienne. “We’d thought of it before, but she had the vision of creating something for us to focus on. Sessions at Actors Kitchen had a varied and informal format and Marion and Mark (Prebble, Marion’s partner) saw the potential for us to take some of our ideas, get some writers involved and work towards a real production.”
So, In Transit, Actors Kitchen recent debut production, was born. Helped in part by Siege Perilous and their plans to create opportunities for local groups to get their work out there beyond the Festival month of August, the vignette-based play was a great success.
“It was scary!” says Adrienne. “Especially when we realised how real it had become! Though it was down to Marion’s drive and ambition and Mark’s experience of writing – it was risky, but it paid off.”
The piece’s origins in improv were obvious, it being an ensemble of vignettes taking place in an unnamed airport struck by delays.
“The concept of people forced together in some enclosed space grew from some of our improvs based around our ideas and experiences” Adrienne says. “Mark invited writers in to observe us and together we all shaped the piece into a whole.”
“Some of the writers had never produced work for the stage before, so everyone had an input – it was a very creative process.”
Now In Transit has successfully completed its short run, I asked about Actors Kitchen’s future plans.
“Marion and Mark are off in New Zealand at the moment” replies Adrienne. “We’re back to our regular, open sessions and workshops – though there’s a few ideas on the table too.”
“Personally, I’d love to put on a classic, like Chekov or Shakespeare, but we’ll see what happens.”
The conversation turns to what she likes about Edinburgh and the theatrical scene here.
“I love Edinburgh” she replies. “The quality of life here is great. London is so expensive and hard to get around – Edinburgh’s just the right size. It’s big enough to be vibrant; yet small enough to walk around.”
“Yes, the scene’s smaller and competitive as a result, but it’s still great to be involved. It does feel as though there’s a bit of a buzz at the moment.”
As I left the Traverse theatre cafe where I’d interviewed Adrienne and walked past the Usher Hall and Lyceum, I found myself fired up by this talented actress’ initiative, enthusiasm and love for the city. With Actors Kitchen, she has successfully created something valuable and exciting out of nothing and is filled with optimism about the future.
And with the promise of what the theatrical seeds she has planted may grow into, so am I.
Visit the Actors Kitchen.