Sophomore performs in Fringe Festival play

Covi Brannan ’15 took a step toward her dream of professional acting when she performed at the world famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland this summer.

The play “The Smoking Boy,” written by her mother Jenn Robbins, ran from Aug. 3 to 11. Robbins had been working on the production since 2005 and was approached two years ago by Loyola-Marymount University theater professor Diane Benedict. LMU awarded Robbins and Benedict a grant to help fund an adaptation of the play for the Fringe Festival.

The play, set in 20th century America, revolves around the aftershock of a family member’s wound from World War I and his complex relationship with his mother. Brannan said it was slightly reworked in order to fit the environment of the festival.
“‘The Smoking Boy’ reveals the family coping with casualties, shifting alliances, confrontation, denial and humor,” she said.
Roger Cox, a reviewer at The Scotsman wrote, “The production values are high and the acting hard to fault… A very lovingly crafted [and] freshly minted play.”
Upper School Performing Arts Head Rees Pugh also attended the performance in Scotland. Having previously worked on productions at the Fringe Festival, he decided to return this summer strictly as a spectator. After receiving an email from Upper School acting teacher Chris Moore saying that Brannan was in a show, he made plans to see the production. He arrived in Edinburgh on the closing night, and it was first on his list to see.
Pugh said he enjoyed the play and found it both informative and entertaining. He said that the costumes, set, and lighting all added to the quality of the show.
“I thought the acting [in ‘The Smoking Boy’] was very strong, the play writing was lyrical, it seemed historically accurate and in the style of the period, and it was quite moving,” Pugh said.
Brannan intends to pursue a career through writing, directing or acting and aspires to perform on Broadway or the West End.
She has been in many productions both inside and outside of school, one of the most recent was playing the part of Beatrice in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Norris Theater in Rolling Hills Estates.
“My favorite part of the entire experience was being able to perform abroad in front of an international audience and just having people from all different cultures and walks of life watching your art form and truly enjoying what they saw,” Brannan said. “It’s really gratifying.”

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