FRINGE FIVE: Hannah Mamalis, of Dreamgun Film Reads
person by Fiona Smith
create 18 September 2018
PIC: Malcolm McGettigan
Hannah Mamalis is a prolific comic, writer and performer who is very active on the comedy and theatre scene, as well as a regular at the Edinburgh Festival. Some of you will have caught her acclaimed one-woman show in last year’s First Fortnight festival, the surreal The Egg Is A Lonely Hunter, and this week she takes part in the always very funny Dreamgun improv show Film Reads at the Dublin Fringe – it begins tonight in Smock Alley Theatre and runs until September 16. She’ll also be on MC duties for the First Fortnight Fundraiser quiz scheduled for October (watch this space).
Here Hannah talks us through the concept behind Film Reads, as well as her many upcoming projects and explains why self-care is important when dealing with the fast-paced world of theatre and comedy and the sense of isolation that comes between shows.
Q1. Last year’s First Fortnight Festival was delighted to feature The Egg is A Lonely Hunter, which you also recently brought to Edinburgh – will the Egg return for another outing and has it evolved since the earlier runs? One reviewer said you “excavate loneliness and grief with tenderness”, was this your aim?
I’m not sure what the plan is for Egg at the moment, it potentially might have another run out but probably not in Ireland. The writing never really changed, maybe small aspects here and there but my approach to it changed wildly every time I performed it. It’s weird to say that you find new things in your own writing but you do. And even though the show’s content is the same, I think that if you took the very first show I did in the Dublin Fringe and held it up against the very last show I did in Edinburgh, they’d feel fairly incomparable. But I like that. It meant it was alive and that I enjoyed doing it right up until the very end. I’m glad it came across as tender because I really wanted it to be a mix, a mix of both funny and feeling. With the comedy elements it’s easier to tell whether they’re working or not because they’re literally punctuated with laughter, but it can be harder to tell whether people have really felt it or not.
Q2. Stalking your Twitter there, you mentioned struggling with the possibility of a sort of post-Edinburgh slump and finding it hard to embrace the rest period. Is this a usual thing you face between projects in the frenetic comedy/acting world?
Oh 100%, I think post-shows blues is always a glaring reality for anyone who does any kind of prolonged performance. I also find it difficult sometimes adjusting routines when I dip in and out of different practices. For example, the routine you carve out when your performing is very different to the routine you have when you’re just writing. That switch between being very extroverted and then very insular can be mentally jarring. And then Edinburgh is a whole other kettle of fish. Self care while you’re over there is always really important and its something that I took quite seriously this year because I knew that doing two shows was going to be an intense experience.
But what I also learnt is that self-care when you get back is equally if not more important to the whole rigmarole. You have to make a choice, allow yourself to take that rest but know you’ll be opening yourself up to potential blues or dive straight into something new. I think going on some kind of holiday right after is the key, so you’re not staring blankly at your own wall for days. Also I joked on Twitter about struggling to adjust to not having two different audiences giving me attention every day and, to be honest, there’s more truth in that then I’d care to admit to myself.
The Film Reads concept was created by the four guys who make up Dreamgun – Stephen Colfer, Gavin Drea, Heber Hanly and James McDonnell. They take a popular film script (ie Die Hard, Harry Potter, Goldeneye), rewrite it full of jokes and then a group of us perform it unrehearsed for an audience. Afterwards, it’s released as a podcast. We’ve been doing it for about two years throughout Dublin, with those scripts then culminating this year in a run at Edinburgh and the Dublin Fringe. The shows are an absolute joy, not only because I get to do them with some of my best friends but because they’re genuinely hilarious and fun and silly for both us and the audience.
Q4. You also featured in last year’s First Fortnight Festival with a role in the hit Irish film The Drummer and The Keeper. What was that experience like and have you got further big-screen ambitions? Any other projects on the go?
Yeah, The Drummer and the Keeper was great. Such a lovely cast and crew and it was nice to work on something that I think everyone was really proud of in the end. Long-term aspirations for screen would be to see something that I wrote up there.
I’ll be performing at the Dublin Podcast Festival with Filmreads on the 8th of October and also with a gas improvised show called Phoning It In on the 14th. I’ve also become a member of a newly formed comedy collective called MOB and our first show will be on the 1st of November, with weekly shows happening from then on. Further down the line, I have a show in January in Smock Alley I’ll be co writing with two of my friends that’s a follow on to an anthology comedy show we did last year called Personal Space. Other then that, just stand up here and there and writing my Edinburgh show for next year.
Q5. What are your 3 favourite tunes you turn to help you relax? Or if not music, then podcasts, shows etc?
Ólafur Arnalds – Lag Fyrir Ömmu
Anything by Villagers to relax but also to feel everything you’re possibly capable of feeling.
And there’s a comedy podcast called the Adventure Zone that I adore.