Monday, 15 June 2015

Polymorphous Dramaturgy: Pollyanna @ Edfringe 2015

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Pollyfilla: We launched Pollyanna launched in Edinburgh in February 2015 as we wanted a space that celebrated experimentation without forgetting about entertainment. Its an intimate test-bed cabaret; new and weird ideas, never performed before are all welcome. It’s grown in to a monthly night of performance art, drag, stand-up, video art, experimentation and now we've got a five-night-a-week residency at Paradise Palms. 

My name is Pollyfilla and I am the queer creature hostess of this messy evening, with a seemingly endless amount of costume changes.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The night was born in Edinburgh outside of the Festival season and since all you lot have lugged yourself up here for a month we thought we better make some sort of effort to prepare something special for your arrival in this windy city. 

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Pollyanna will be the free (!) end of the evening night where you can be guaranteed a messy, glitzy introduction to new set of alternative performers each night. There are exactly 45.7million shows happening in the Fringe and we are in the midst of picking all the weirdos out of that bunch to part our velvety curtains. 

At Pollyanna you can grab a cocktail, dance to our DJs whilst I rudely interrupt your evening by falling onstage in bulging PVC to introduce an ever-changing showcase.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Improv, reacting to what is happening and not second-guessing myself too much are all very important. All my best ideas I have thought of at three in the morning in a frantic panic before our show. Or exactly 23 seconds before landing on stage with a cocktail in my hand. For me scripting and planning too far in advance would be that I wouldn't end up trying to eat my high heels in a nightie whilst singing along to an acapella version of The Smiths’ This Charming Man. And then we would all be sad.

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work -  have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
Drag and queer performance has both the history and potential to be political and subversive. It should disturb and discomfort the conventions of gender and sexuality. Family-friendly lovely-lovely drag holds little interest for me, it’s time to reclaim the queer potential of drag before it runs itself in polished hole. 

In the Fringe I shall be channelling John Waters’ films with Divine, mixed in with Ryan Trecartin’s video art and the three witches of Macbeth. Unshaven beard and untucked crotch, I shall be a fluid queer creature rather than a pristine-queen.

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
As well as hosting the night I am finding acts to come on board as well as encouraging people who haven’t performed before to try out new ideas. We've had lots of people perform who have never performed before and that is really important to us, to be able to provide this space for risk-taking and new ideas. So for me the most exciting thing of each night is seeing all of the acts together in one night feeling like we've organised a massive treat for the audience. 

So there is an element of collaboration to it all; each night is made up of a new set of performers each night, and together they make Pollyanna.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
For me as a hostess the audience is essential to pretty much everything I do; flirting, insulting, de-heckling and welcoming - they are needed for it all. And Pollyanna its about an experience for the whole evening for the audience, from when you enter our venue Paradise Palms, a bar filled with tassles, velvet and bunting, to when you are watching yoghurt being licked off someones face on stage, to when you are dancing with the performers at the end of the night.

Pollyanna is on Sunday to Thursday for the full three weeks with two extra performances on the 6th and 7th
10pm-3am (performances 11pm-1am)
Paradise Palms
41 Lothian Street
Opposite Bristo Square
Venue 411

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