The Damsels Most Daring

Some people are just too talented, and Emily Murphy & Maya Levy (aka The Damsels Most Daring) definitely fit into that category. Their show is brimming with originality, and their delivery is faultless. We were treated to a performance of their full Edinburgh Fringe show at the West London Synagogue at Marble Arch on 27th June.

The Damsels Most Daring’s use of music, props, accents and ingenuity make this hour long show zoom by. Their show is lively, original & really entertaining. Photographs from the performance and an interview with Maya & Emily can be found below:

What inspired you to start performing?
Emily: I’m not sure I can pinpoint a particular moment or event that inspired me to start performing, I just remember always being thrilled by it. My first experiences were in school plays, and it was a passion that grew and grew. I was taken to see the musical ‘Fame’ when I was about ten and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever. Everyone was so glamorous and talented and I couldn’t imagine anything more fun to be part of.

What inspired you to start performing?
Maya: I started off as a musician. This was something my parents, who both had studied music to quite a high level, really understood. I started playing piano when I was 7 and taking singing lessons when I was 11. I decided I wanted to be an actress when I saw Kenneth Branagh’s Henry Vth, I think I was 11…I kept it a secret from my parents though, cause I didn’t think they’d understand that as much as they understood music. It meant that I didn’t get to properly act other than making up dramatic lines and whispering them to my bedroom mirror until I got to university.

First time you appeared on stage?
Maya: I went to music school every Saturday and performed onstage from the age of 8, playing piano recitals and vocal recitals, and doing ‘opera scenes’ (so that was a bit of acting really, but I had to force the opera scenes teacher to let us stage it and not just sing the parts).

How did the Damsels Most Daring meet?
Emily: Maya and I met on the first day of drama school, well, before the first day really as Central had arranged a ‘meet-a-flatmate’ event. We hit it off and have been friends ever since, but the Damsels only formed properly in spring last year, about eight months after our first performance together at Open Arts Cafe, a night that Maya runs at West London Synagogue.

Working together
Maya: A few years ago, I had an aching dream to write a Western. I had done a few short pieces where I played the piano, underscoring some narration, but knew it would be too difficult to do something more complicated with lots of characters all by myself, so I asked Emily if she’d like to do that with me and perform it at Open Arts Café. She did, we did and it went down a treat…

…A while later I told her I had another idea for an OAC theme that was about madness…and wrote Celeste: A Gothic Thriller. After that one, our friend Nadia told us we should go to Edinburgh with these stories, which seemed a grand idea, and that’s when Emily and I started working harder, finding a title for ourselves, getting a third story together, getting invites to festivals, buying lots of props that looked a certain way, etc.

In the beginning…
Emily: Once we had a name, it was amazing how quickly the whole project really began to take form. I think that having a defined aesthetic helped: people were intrigued by the idea of these Victorian ladies, and we were booked for a couple of festivals.

…We were given a slot at the PBH Free Fringe in Edinburgh last year, which was a fantastic experience: the Free Fringe allows audiences and artists alike to take risks that they otherwise might not. We would chat to people in costume, and basically bring them in off the street and hopefully charm them with a few delightful stories, pass round a hat for contributions, and send them on their way. We found that the show had a very broad appeal to a wide range of ages, and it was very gratifying to see three generations of a family enjoying one show.

The Edinburgh Fringe experience.
Maya: Going to Edinburgh was so much fun and so much work. Emily and I worked really well as a team, each taking on administrative duties and pushing each other to do the stuff that felt tedious and difficult. And that hard work paid off, as our 7 day run in Edinburgh was just great. We hit the jackpot with PBH Free Fringe venues, playing in a lovely cosy room at The Voodoo Rooms…

… I sewed us a Damsels Most Daring banner (very daring of me) and we would cruise the royal mile for an hour before the show, looking a bit like suffragettes. We had good audiences for the 7 days, and got some nice reviews, so overall, a fantastic experience that didn’t put us too much in debt. What more can one ask for?

What inspires your acting?
Maya: I really like telling stories. I think that’s my main inspiration for acting, and certainly for creating new pieces. I love performing, of course, and I suppose some part of that is ego, while another part is the feeling of sharing an experience with an audience. I always want them to have a good time, even willing to bake complicated cupcakes to put them at their ease! There are no limits to where I’ll go for them to enjoy their time watching me perform (that’s not true, I think cupcakes might have been the limit).

What does the future hold for the Damsels?
Emily: It’s hard to say exactly what’s next for the Damsels; we’d love to take the existing show to some venues and festivals in the UK, and there’s a new adventure set in Australia that needs another outing. It’s a format that I think really works and it’s so much fun to perform with a great friend. There are so many aspects to putting on a show when it’s just the two of you, so it’s great when you can share that and go ‘right, this part scares me- can you do that?’

What does the future hold for the Damsels?
Maya: The Damsels are focusing on getting a good filmed clip so we can start to promote ourselves to festivals and venues. We’ve had such a good response from pretty much all ages, it would be nice to bring this to a broader audience outside of Edinburgh and London.

Other creative pursuits & projects
Emily: I’m really fascinated by clowning right now, and hope to do more improv too. I also recently tried storytelling for the first time as well, and I’d be interested in doing more of that. I love theatre that really includes the audience, is playful with them, and brings them along for the adventure, and that’s certainly what we’re aiming for with the Damsels.

Maya: As for me, I have some ideas floating in the air about some new theatrical projects I’d like to start getting some gigs for my singer/ songwriter stuff, and trying to sell my children’s musical ‘Menagerie’!

To find out more about the Damsels Most Daring, please check out their website & ‘like’ their fb page

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