We spoke to Daniel Hoffmann-Gill about his autobiographical performance of The Great Almighty Gill that’s heading to the Edinburgh Fringe with New Perspectives. Through tribute, stand-up and occasional lip-syncing, Daniel remembers his sometimes wonderful, sometimes troubled relationship with his father, a beloved husband, a naturally gifted artist and sometimes misunderstood. The performance gives insight into what living with dementia is like for both the person who has it and their family and friends in a one-man performance full of pathos, bathos and gallows humour. The Great Almighty Gill was originally performed as an audio piece through cassette.
How have you found the process of transferring this to the stage?
Relatively easy because it actually started as a live show many years ago and then was converted to an audio experience and is now back in its original form. However, it is still really exciting to bring the text alive and embody my dad, it’s a real joy.
What are the challenges of creating a solo show, especially one so personal to your own life?
In short I relive the funeral every time I perform the show and that has obvious emotional repercussions for me but I feel secure enough in my grief and in my own emotional framework to be able to do this. However, I can’t pretend that some days, it’s going to be a killer to perform and others, an absolute blessing; that’s just the way it goes. A solo show means that you have to think about varying your voice, enabling space, giving the audience a rest from you and crucially finding a place for them to play an integral part. Hence all the audience participation in the show.
What do you want the audience to take away from the show?
That grief is good. That vulnerability is good. To share, to let it out. To speak the names of the ones they’ve loved and lost, to celebrate them, tell their stories and remember that grief is the love you can no longer give.
What’s your favourite line from the performance?
That’s a tough one. There’s an awful lot of bangers in there and a lot of them have swearing in, so I’ll rule out the lines with expletives. Let’s go with: “I don’t look right on a horse, do I?”
Any top tips for Fringe festival goers?
Don’t drink too much. Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Don’t heckle. Don’t walk out. See as much as you can but don’t make it a chore. Don’t just go to the big four, spread your wings.
The Great Almighty Gill is being performed in The Blue Room at Assembly George Square between 3rd -29th August. Tickets start at £9.50 and can be purchased here.