We spoke to actor and writer Heather Milsted about her upcoming show, Period Dramas, that’s heading to the Edinburgh Fringe next month. Period Dramas is the history show she wishes she’d seen, filled with unsanitary sanitary towels and bloodied bloomers. The show follows Heather in a chaotic and all-embracing celebration of self that teaches audiences the history they never learnt in school, from ancient Egypt right up until today.
Tell us a bit about the show
Period Dramas was born out of my childhood obsession with history, blood and period dramas of both kinds… I was utterly convinced that Elizabeth Bennett would start leaking as soon as Colin Firth emerged dripping from that lake, because , obviously, that’s what would happen to me in that situation… I became fed up with the menstrual taboo and was so frustrated by the lack of discussion of all things menstrual in both the history books and popular culture more generally, so I really wanted to help change that! Period Dramas shares a history from ancient Egypt right up until today that is funny, gory and compelling. Period Dramas is a chaotic and all-embracing celebration of self that brings together cabaret, spoken word and history in a romp back through the ages. Each act is a different cabaret act which delves into a different, teaching audiences the kind of history that they never learnt in school and tackling the menstrual taboo head on. Think Horrible Histories meets Bryony Kimmings and Phoebe Waller-Bridge!
What are the challenges of creating a solo show?
I think for me the main challenge on this piece has almost been to not get bogged down on all the research. I started working on this piece right back in January 2019 and, understandably, research has to be the very foundation of this show, but I’m the sort of person who goes down a rabbit hole quite easily and gets far too overexcited with the history and then tries to include absolutely everything… I was so lucky to have Jessy, my director & dramaturg, come into rehearsals and be like, Heather sometimes you’ve got to step away and leave it, which what was exactly what I needed!
Can you give us an interesting historical fact about periods?
Oh gosh there are so many to choose from! I’m going to go with a general fact about tampons – that they have been around for a really really long time, but they were only used almost as a kind of medical treatment, and it was only in the 20th Century that these would have been used to handle a regular period! The period of time that has surprised me the most, though, was definitely Ancient Egypt – they had some pretty cool ideas about periods and even had methods to deal with period pain.
How do you want your audience to feel after seeing the show?
Any top tips for Fringe festival goers?
Oooh – I’m going to say pace yourself, but also try anything! You ever know what you’re going to get at Fringe and that’s the best thing about it – I love to plan out all the shows I’m desperate to see, but then to leave loads of gaps so that I can have those conversations with artists up there and wander into shows in the moment. At the same time, sleep and vegetables are always good too!
Period Dramas is being performed at the Pleasance Courtyard between the 3rd-21st August. Tickets start at £8.50 and you can purchase them here.