Monday, 29 June 2015

Portraying Dramaturgy: Racheal Ofori @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe
GKV: What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Rachael Ofori: Portrait began with a load of random ideas that I wanted to explore. When written down it read like I was going to write a book or an essay rather than create anything practical. So it began with a challenge I guess, to create something practical out of all these theoretical ideas.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Initially it was written as a dissertation and after the feedback from the first performance, I was keen to give the play a further life. I loved how it was received, (it was actually entertaining!) so the next step was the bigger challenge of taking it to the diverse Edinburgh audience.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Audiences can expect to laugh and be provoked, (and entertained with some ballsy dancing). That's one thing I enjoy experimenting with- challenging audience perceptions through comedy. I find it helps to create dialogue with discussing issues people might not usually engage in.
The Dramaturgy Questions

 How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
The relevance resides in the fact that when I go to the theatre I rarely see young black women portrayed. So I like the idea of making my main protagonist as a medium to explore the socially conventional prospects of a young black woman today. Drawing from my own experiences, people I've met, stuff I've seen in the media and books I'd read, I'd found loads of stimulating material.

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?
I began looking at prominent black performers and writers, like Josephine Baker and Maya Angelo. The influence these had was they encouraged a fearlessness in me. Particularly Josephine Baker. She had a famously uninhibited way of dancing even self ridicule, particularly in the earlier parts of her career. I loved the way that her audacious performances would engage her audiences- people that might otherwise have never seen her work.

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?
I'm still learning my creative process. What I have found is a lot of the work will come to me on the move. Whereas when I wake up and sit at a desk ready for inspiration to doesn't. A lot of the characters began with one liners that I was improvising with and then I built their monologues around those. Then I'd re read them and toy with the voices of the characters and other lines would come from that. So I guess a lot of it is sharpening and editing improvised work.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Always good when you get a laugh from the audience! 
Nonetheless, the text can provoke other reactions. This is what is interesting in feedback after performances - hearing how people have been affected by the piece and the dialogues that open!

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