Monday, 29 June 2015

Sh!t Dramaturgy: Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe

GKV: What inspired Women’s Hour: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Becca Biscuit and Louise Mothersole: Women’s Hour was originally 3 lines in our show JSA (Job Seekers Anonymous) 2013, which became a fifteen minute cabaret piece for the first Calm Down Dear! Festival of Feminism as part of the cabaret night. We were then commissioned to turn that fifteen minutes into an hour to headline the 2014 festival at Camden Peoples Theatre.

Why bring it to Edinburgh?
This is our ninth year in a row at the Fringe and we’ve been institutionalised. We literally have forgotten the other options.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of Women’s Hour?
They might get a crumpet in the eye. Failing that we hope they will be amused, shocked, entertained, disturbed. We hop they’ll laugh at absurdity with us. 

Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?

Our work has an intentionally piecemeal feel and often combines very disparate elements in content and form, therefore dramaturgy is a huge part of structuring our shows. If what we mean by dramaturgy is dramaturgy.

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?

We’ve been inspired by Split Britches, Taylor Mac, performance artists who combine the political and personal with humour & a DIY approach.

“DIY theatre” is considered a genre or movement by Robert Daniels of Bootworks. He sees it as a theatre practice with strong links to the punk movement, a theatre movement choosing a DIY style for political and economic reasons. 

He’s asked us to contribute to his second book DIY Too. It’s interesting when people start positioning your work within their community and asking you to describe why you are something you didn’t necessarily know you were. It’s exciting also, and somewhat a relief to have an umbrella term for what you do in place of using 5 or 6 ‘slashes’ i.e. comedy/music/performance art/documentary practice/cabaret/theatre.

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?
It usually starts with us halfway through making one show, getting excited about something else and signing up to write that too. Then we begin with research, usually quite extensive research and we end up with a lot of information. 

We pour through this together, start finding ways to twist it and discovering what shocks us or grabs us. Usually we’ll come upon something completely unrelated which in our brains makes sense to link with the original topic (form, imagery or content-wise). We drink a lot of tea. 

We stick paper all over the walls. Some times we’ll have a narrative through line that shapes the show though in the instance of Women’s Hour it’s more about a layering and building of feeling/atmosphere. We usually write in short sections, a hangover from our original political cabaret days, and then dramaturgy comes in to start finding patterns and pull those sections together.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
We include some amounts of audience interaction in the show and their responses complete the performance. Also in some of our shows, they also change the outcome. One of the things that delighted us most about last year’s show Guinea Pigs on Trial was the audience’s eagerness to get up on stage and wee in a cup for us. 

We’re at our most comfortable in those moments when we can talk with the audience rather than the pre-rehearsed bits. We’ve done a lot of long-form improv (we’re part of a long-form group called The Alphabetties), in fact that’s how we met, so maybe that’s part of it. It’s just more fun for us when there’s bits you can never plan and we want more of this in our work in the future.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
No you’ve done very well Gareth well done.

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