Kevin P Gilday on his EdFringe show, Spam Valley
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022
When we were at Edinburgh in 2019 we couldn’t seem to avoid Kevin P Gilday. He first cropped up as a guest in Loud Poets, then a few days later he accosted us coming out of a venue flyering for his own show, Suffering From Scottishness. Luckily, he is also a lovely man and we did enjoy both shows, so we didn’t mind being accosted all that much! In fact, he was so charming we found ourselves buying one of his poetry books as well.
So, when Kevin dropped us a line to let us know he is back in Edinburgh this year with his latest show, Spam Valley, we felt almost compelled to find the time to chat to him to discuss not just the show, but where else he might be popping up this year.
Spam Valley plays at The Stand’s New Town Theatre 4 – 14 August, 10pm. Tickets and info here.
We really should start with the obvious, what can you tell us about Spam Valley, what’s it all about then?
Spam Valley is a show all about class. Specifically, about feeling like you don’t belong in your own class. It’s about that negotiation between the individual and society. Of seeing tribalism and feeling left out. It’s also my story – how I grew up poor but still didn’t get to stake my claim to being working class, how I ended up being surrounded by middle class people when I became a poet, how that’s left me feeling like I’m floating in my own space sometimes.
It’s also supposed to be funny.
And what/ where is Spam Valley?
Spam Valley is a mythical land. It’s used to refer to neighbourhoods all over Scotland. Places that are seen as a wee bit posh. Crucially, the inference is that the people living in these neighbourhoods are doing it to look posh and can’t actually afford to live there which means they have a big house but have to eat spam for their dinner. Hence, Spam Valley – a very specific class-based insult up here.
You certainly dip your toe into many genres, spoken word, stand up and a little acting, what can we expect to see you up to in Spam Valley?
It’s a theatrical monologue at its heart but – as always – that spoken word sneaks in, it’s such a massive part of my work that it had to find a place amongst the drama. I also do something approaching stand-up comedy during the show, which is very scary and entirely exciting.
Suffering From Scottishness was a very (mostly anyway) tongue in cheek and charming look at what it means to be Scottish, are you taking the same liberties with how you portray working class in Spam Valley?
I think so. I don’t like people to know if I’m being serious or not. It entertains me to sit in that space and make people feel uncomfortable. As so much of it is coming from an autobiographical place there’s no need to take any liberties – this is my lived experience and the fact is often stranger than fiction. It’s a show all about eschewing stereotypes so don’t expect any working class bashing comedy.
So you’re being yourself this time around rather than playing a role?
I am very much myself. Or at least the version of myself that stands on a stage and talks to strangers. It’s felt really liberating to stand on stage and be me, to tell my story and be my authentic weird self.
The show is a 10pm start, is that a sign it’s a little more risqué or simply that you don’t have to get up early to get in to the venue? And does it mean you get a different type of audience with a later start time?
I think there’s an intensity that can come into the work with a later show. A feeling of things being a bit unpredictable. That what is said next might not have come from a script. And that absolutely suits the vibe of this show. It’s conversational and open and has an emotional heft to it that I think will take people by surprise.
Are you going to be popping up anywhere else during August then?
Who else would you recommend seeing at the festival then?
Darren McGarvey will be doing a freewheeling Q&A at the same venue as me, the New Town Theatre, which is sure to be amazing. The brilliant Annie George has a double bill of shows on at Summerhall. Salamander by Mhairi McCall looks stunning. If you’re into comedy then get over to the Monkey Barrel who have an unbelievable array of Scotland’s best comedians in their line-up: Stephen Buchanan, Amelia Bayler, Stuart McPherson, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Elaine Malcolmson, Rosco McClelland, Marc Jennings, Liam Withnail, Richard Brown, Krystal Evans, Amy Matthews, Susan Riddell and probably more that I’ve missed out. I really wish I was a comedian, they’re all so cool and effortless.
And lastly, why then, with everything else we could be seeing, should we come along to see Spam Valley then?
Because it has something to say – and that’s rarer than you think. It’s not a big, fancy production or a wee student play – this is proper political theatre told through a personal story. It’s bold. It’s unique. It’s a show for everyone who feels they’ve been left behind by their class. Who feels they didn’t fit in with the stereotype. It’s a show for everyone who moved away to become someone new but ended up back where they started. It’s a show that kicks back against the policing of class and reclaims it for everyone who wants it.
My theory is that my story isn’t unique, it just hasn’t been portrayed on stage because it isn’t seen as dramatic enough. Well, here’s our chance. If this sounds like your story too, then come and see it.
Our thanks to Kevin for taking time of what we are sure is the usual chaotic lead up to the festival! You can catch Spam Valley at The Stand’s New Town Theatre 4 – 14 August, 10pm. Tickets and info here.