Edinburgh Fringe Fest - Callum Hughes's Thirst
The solo debut of actor and writer Callum Hughes is a showcase of sympathetic yet humerous diaries on his battles with alcoholism, his life as a musician, and a reminder that not everything you love is necessarily good for you. Hughes carefully comprises stories from childhood to a few years ago, navigating his struggle with alcohol with a parallel narrative on his relationship with music and performing. With a guitar in hand and performing original music, Hughes goes into his personal life, theatre, religion, and his love for music, shedding light on the bleak, enabling side of the gig industry.
We spoke with actor, writer and musician Callum Hughes about taking his autobiographical solo show Thirst to Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Tell us a bit about your show Thirst is an autobiographical one-man show that talks about my life as an actor, musician and an addict – and how those identities intersect. It’s a way of me sharing aspects of my life through the perspective of someone in recovery from addiction, and a celebration of the pub-culture that helped lead me into a life of storytelling and performance. Why did you want to become a musician? I have wanted to be a musician for as long as I remember! I was introduced to music from a young age – partly through my parent’s love of music – it was always in the house, and I was always under the impression that it was culturally apart of who we were as a family, that in some way it was entangled with my Scottish and Irish heritage. But it was when I started going to watch my dad perform in actor-musician shows – where all the performers played live on-stage – I remember starting to look at music differently – no longer seeing it as something people did to pass the time – but as something you could do for a job. For me, music is a fantastic way of enhancing the way we share stories with each other. What’s your favourite original song from the show? Can you give us a lyric? I think my favourite song from the show is probably The Day That They Came. It’s a song about how my parents came to visit me in hospital - and we didn’t know how much damage I’d done to my body through alcohol. It’s a short song, but there’s a lyric in it that always moves me: Lost eyes like children, these pensioners knew Their boy wasn’t gonna be fine… Counting the seconds until I was stable Before they could reach for the wine… The show deals a lot with childhood and when we decide who we think we are… I like the idea of child/parent roles being reversed in the face of vulnerability. It’s a reminder that all of us are just trying our best, making it up as we go along. That sometimes, none of us have the answers… What do you want the audience to take away from your show? Having toured the show across the country, I’m always surprised by the range of things people take away from the show. Some folks see it as a story about losing/finding oneself, others really relate to the way in which I address mental health and addiction, and some just love the humour in the stories I share... But ultimately it’s a story about how we cope with being alive. Sometimes the things we think we love most aren’t always good for us – and that’s a hard lesson to learn. Stories help us talk to each other about how we feel – and that’s something we could all do a lot more of in my opinion. If one person comes away knowing that they aren’t alone in their struggle and that there’s hope for everyone (no matter how hopeless things may feel), then it’s worth it for me. What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh Fringe? The Fringe is a fantastic chance to spend time with other performers and creatives and it’s great to share ideas and thoughts about different ways we can tell stories and create new work. Thirst is unique in that its structure isn’t typical of a theatre-show – it follows the non-linear nature of recovery, drawing on the way memory operates whilst being entirely underscored live by the performer. I’m excited to see what Edinburgh audiences make of it. With the Fringe, you never know who your audience is going to be, and I often see things I wouldn’t usually seek out. I’ve discovered some incredible performers that way! I’m excited to see some of the diverse work offered by the fringe. I’m particularly looking forward to Frankie Thompson and Liv Ello’s The Body Show, Out of the Forest’s Boris III, and David Shopland’s Raising Kane, to name a few
Thirst will be performed at 2.05pm in Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker 3 from 2 - 28 August. Book here!