Interview with Jenna Fincken, Joint Executive Director of Wildcard Theatre Company

"It wasn’t till I was in my mid-twenties I seriously considered trying to write something. I’d always have ideas but no strategy on where to even begin. The real turning point of inspiration was watching Angry Alan by Penelope Skinner at Fringe 2018. It blew my mind."

Interview with Jenna Fincken, Joint Executive Director of Wildcard Theatre Company

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Jenna Fincken (she/her), actor and first-time writer. Also, Joint Executive Director of Wildcard Theatre Company.

How would you describe your show?

Ruckus is a one-woman thriller exploring the suppression and destruction caused by coercive control.

Lou is a 28-year-old primary school teacher who’s wholly aware the audience are watching her. She wants to show them exact moments in her relationship, breaking down the progression of coercion as Lou journeys from freedom to being trapped.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Everyone has a bucket list, and Edinburgh Festival Fringe has always been mine. I always admired watching other artists and close friends create work and perform at the Fringe. It’s joyous and inspirational to follow their journey with the show after the festival and watch the next steps in their career. Plus, for a whole month, you get to go and watch all the other wonderful shows!

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I feel there is an underlying amount of respect that surrounds Edinburgh Festival Fringe. People know the dedication and effort it takes to bring a show to the Fringe. It’s like everyone has the same want – of finding amazing new shows.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

At first, purely my love for performing. I always thought I would work in musical theatre, dream role being Kate Monster in Avenue Q. Since then, I’ve come to my senses and wouldn’t torture audiences with my singing.

But when I did my drama A Level, I was introduced to plays such as The Pillowman, My Mother Said I Never Should and The Killing of Sister George. It felt like my world completely opened up to the kind of stories that could be told in theatre. I realised this was something I really wanted to be a part of.

It wasn’t till I was in my mid-twenties I seriously considered trying to write something. I’d always have ideas but no strategy on where to even begin. The real turning point of inspiration was watching Angry Alan by Penelope Skinner at Fringe 2018. It blew my mind and is still my favourite piece of theatre I’ve ever seen. So, after that show and during a very hungover train journey back home from Edinburgh to London, I began the initial sketches of Ruckus.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

I couldn’t talk properly until I was four, so I needed continuous speech therapy growing up. I then didn’t get diagnosed with dyslexia till I was fourteen. So, writing and reading didn’t come naturally to me and wasn’t particularly easy. However, what this did do for me, was my desire to communicate. I used to think to myself – if I take the time to fully understand this, I’ll be able to share this to someone else. I feel this really is at the heart of my writing.

Another game changer was going to Oxford School of Drama. I completely lucked out with my year. They are some of the most talented, supportive and hardest working creatives I’ve ever met. Most of the year then went to form Wildcard Theatre Company 2015. And seven years later, ten productions under our belt, our empowerment department and affordable rehearsal spaces in central London – here we are! This group of people have completely inspired my career.

To be honest, I worked in customer experience for five years, and this has given me management and soft skills that have definitely transferred to my artistic career.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I remember making a clay flower for a school art competition. I painted the petals alternatively white and then yellow. Then being so bloody frustrated when I got to the last petal and realised that I’d done an odd amount of petals. Meaning my white and yellow pattern wouldn’t work. So I had to colour the last petal half white and half yellow and it really didn’t look good at all and won no prizes, and you might be able to tell by even me going into this amount of detail about this story how upset I still am about it.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

Love to make documentaries. Binge watching documentaries is one of my favourite pastimes.

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now?

Covid-19 has made me a little braver with my time in creating work. To go for it more and embrace this momentum that I’ll need to accept failing. When approaching shows now, I’m more intrigued about discovering what’s not working. Knowing that’s going to direct me to the right answer.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Reflective, joyous, challenging. And an adrenaline-rush

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’?

Big question (could even be a title for a dissertation). Personally, I’m always one to have a discussion rather than a singular answer. Maybe I’ll able to chat further on it if we ever meet in a bar in Edinburgh?

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Beatrix Potter. Her stories made me so happy as a little girl. I always think her stories grew my imagination. I’d ask her to do her impersonation of my favourite character, Babbety Bumble (and see if it beats my mum).

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Patience is everything. Sometimes shows have a one or three year plan. I’d start by finding out what you really want by taking a show up to Fringe and the steps you need to take to get there. Then find your tribe of people who are there to support you.

Also, speak to artists that have done it before. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been given gems of advice that has truly helped me head in the right direction. Wildcard does drop-in sessions with artists to chat anything about theatre, so feel free to get in touch.

When and where can people see your show?

Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Theatre, 15:30, 3rd - 28th August (60 mins)

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

For me, @jenna_fincken (twitter). Wildcard Theatre company, @WildcardTheatre (Twitter), @wildcardtheatre (Instagram), Wildcard Card Theatre Company (TikTok)


Ruckus, Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Theatre, 3.30pm, 3-28 August (not 15 or 22). For tickets, visit https://festival.summerhall.co.uk/performances/ruckus-5/ 

Header Image Credit: Provided

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Tom Inniss

0 Comments

Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

Review of Jack and the Beanstalk at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry

Review of Jack and the Beanstalk at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry

by Gregary Burnsen-Hicks

Read now