Making the Cut: NewsRevue's Tara Newton-Wordsworth

NewsRevue is the longest running live comedy show on the planet. Director Tara Newton-Wordsmith explains how to keep a classic show going.

Feature by Ben Venables | 06 Aug 2015

It’s quite unusual for a director at the Fringe to be younger than the show she’s working on, but Tara Newton-Wordsworth is some years younger than NewsRevue. The veteran satire and song show has been resident at the Fringe for 36 years, so the challenge now is to simultaneously satisfy expectations without letting it feel too familiar.

Newton-Wordsworth’s energy helps keep the format fresh, but she has plenty of experience too, having been involved with NewsRevue, first as an actor, for the past couple of years. She tells The Skinny: "I've directed a few things: a show at the Chelsea Theatre in 2013 and at Lee Strasberg [the renowned New York theatre and film institute] where I studied."

After moving to New York from Western Australia, Newton-Wordsworth found herself drawn towards comedy: "I started off in stand-up and used to go and watch it all the time at the Comedy Cellar. I watched until I knew the sets off by heart; if the comedian put an extra beat in I'd see the difference it would make on the audience. I think sometimes to make something really great you just have to hone it and hone it and hone it. I think I'm probably a bit finicky and perfectionist about how things should be put together and I probably drive the NewsRevue cast a bit mad – but thankfully I think I understand where I am going with it.

"It's a collaborative team show and if the cast, the producer or the musical director loves something then I'm less tempted to cut a sketch or song. But yes, I have the final say on what goes in, and the running order, and how it pieces together."

But Newton-Wordsworth has to edit herself too: "I have to limit the part of me that likes absurd comedy as it wouldn't really fit in a satirical news show. I've allowed myself one absurd piece, but we'll see if it makes the cut..."

It may not, for in the Edinburgh run, there’s plenty of strong material to choose from: "We have the benefit with this show that it’s running every week at the Canal Cafe Theatre in London. Obviously we're lucky to get to see material done every week and it's refined and tested. It's actually an overview of the whole year as opposed to the most recent news. I've been making lists of everything that is great. And that’s been really beneficial putting the show together as we only have an eight-day rehearsal period."

For a show that’s now an institution, it’s perhaps this combination of collaborative effort and careful editing that keeps it fresh.

NewsRevue2015, Pleasance Courtyard, 5-17 & 19-31 Aug, 6.30pm, £11-16.50.