Thursday, 25 June 2015

Mon'ng About Dramaturgy with Katie (and Adrian Brown)

Wednesday 5 – Monday 31 August 2015, 12.50pm, running time: 65 mins
Pleasance Courtyard Box Office: 0131 556 6550
Tickets: £9.00 - £12.50, Previews £6.00 (no perfs Mon 17 and Mon 24 Aug)
Pleasance One, Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ

Katie and her Gran are visiting an art gallery to see the famous painting of the Mona Lisa. Katie wonders why the Mona Lisa is smiling and, to her delight, she comes to life! 

But Katie soon discovers that Mona is lonely and that, in fact, her smile is starting to fade. They set off around the gallery for a magical adventure through a series of famous Renaissance paintings, searching for someone who can restore Mona Lisa’s smile. 

They visit Raphael’s St George, helping him biff a HUGE hungry dragon, they dance with gods and goddesses in Botticelli’s Primavera, and fly over Venice on Carpaccio’s winged lion – all the time evading the grumpy gallery guard.

There are 7 new songs which include ‘Hey there, Mona Lisa’, Mine’s A Most Important Job’ ‘Primavera’, ‘Venice, City on the Water’, ‘Angel’s Song’, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’.

Adrian Brown has directed many children’s TV series. He directed Terence Rattigan’s Less Than Kind which was at Jermyn Street Theatre and for two UK tours. 

And now he talks about dramaturgy...

What inspired the production? The original idea for Katie and the Mona Lisa, a musical for children, from came a book written and with beautiful illustrations by James Mayhew who, we discovered, has written a whole series of Katie books, popular with children aged from about 5 to about 12 which have considerable educational as well as entertainment value. 

 Katie is a small child who has a developing love for paintings and painters, and in the story we chose she has been taken to visit a special exhibition in the National Gallery, during the course of which she befriends a rather sad Mona Lisa, and with this famous lady enters several other famous paintings in search of her missing smile.

Why bring the work to Edinburgh? There will be lots of children at the festival, both local school and pre-school pupils and visitors of many nationalities, and it seemed to us that their parents would be delighted to bring them to a show which is colourful, musical, educational, fantastical, imaginative and funny.

The Pleasance 1 auditorium is central and a good size, so will be an excellent space for us to try out the show preparatory to it being seen later on tour across the nation.

What can the audience be expected to feel (or even think) of our production? 
What a charming, imaginative, magical, scary with its fierce dragon and flying lion, yet funny and heart-warming entertainment. The children will have learnt something as well as been amused.


How would one explain the relevance – or otherwise – of dramaturgy within one’s work? Dramatic construction is absolutely essential for any serious work for the stage, as nothing is more boring than being present at a haphazard work, in which events take place for no special reason. In writing, when some imaginative element has struck me, I frequently make a note to go back to an earlier place and insert a reference to the subject. 

For instance in Katie, she and Mona Lisa have an frightening encounter with Carpaccio’s flying Lion of Venice, whose sharp claws almost sink the gondola in which he poles them down the Grand Canal, so I turned back to the beginning and inserted Katie’s fear of the lions at the foot of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery. It all adds completion. 

I remember Terence Rattigan telling me long ago “If you introduce a theme or a prop into a show, you have to use it three times, or it should not be there at all,” advice I remembered in my rearrangement of his Less Than Kind, which our company sent out on two nationwide tours, when I introduced a piano into the action, and found significant action for it on three occasions.

Traditions and Influences. Both the classic circle (“Birth, copulation and death” – T.S. Elliott) and “the well-made play” have been conscious models in my work as a director as well as in my writing. The classic writers had a shape and a completion to their work which I have much admired, and which more contemporary writers seem to find less compelling.

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