Friday, 26 June 2015

Take a Big Bite of Dramaturgy: Nick Brice and Cas Hodges @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe
GKV: What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Nick Brice and Cas Hodges: Our Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show menus (we produce three selections of five plays each that rotate each day at Pleasance Dome) - are selected from a range of bite-size ten-minute plays we are sent from around the world. 

 In recent years, we’ve also been some wonderful longer ‘bigger bites’ plays of 20-25 minutes. So this year, to celebrate our tenth year in Edinburgh, we’re working with Assembly to launch a NEW Lunch Hour format – ‘LUNCH IN CAIRO’ in Assembly Checkpoint.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
We have been taking collections of plays to Edinburgh for almost 10 years now and this year is a big anniversary for us. We’ve built up a good following and many people come to see us year after year, and make a point of booking all three menus. 

We’ve received touring and televised opportunities for our work, as well as some of our writers and performers securing some great opportunities off the back of being part of the show. We feel it’s such a valuable and rewarding experience for everyone, we want to keep going for another ten years!! (at least!)

We’d love the new ‘bigger bites’ Lunch Hour show to become as permanent a fixture as the Breakfast too!

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
In the Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show -three menus of sparkling ten-minute plays from around the world in three rotating ‘menus’ – including a version of Pride and Prejudice in Ten Minutes Flat by Tim Hehir, a play called Quack by Patrick Gabridge and another called Cate Blanchett Wants to Be My Friend on Facebook by Alex Broun. So, in short, people can expect, a varying daily selection of engaging and stimulating themes, characters, stories and scenarios - that will give them plenty to talk about!

Our Breakfast Show has become somewhat of a Fringe Institution, where last year some 3500 people visited us at 10.30am in the Pleasance Dome to enjoy some fresh coffee, croissant and strawberries followed by one of three menus of sparkling ten-minute plays – mostly comedic, with the odd mini-drama for good measure.

We’re known for helping people start their day with something fresh and stimulating. Here’s an email we’ve literally just received from one of our customers:

"I'm a huge fan. I go to Edinburgh every year and the Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show is always a highlight. The plays have made me think, made me laugh and sent me away on a high for the rest of the day."

In our NEW Big Bite-Size Lunch Hour – ‘Lunch In Cairo’ – people will experience two ‘bigger bites’ plays in a 50 minute show – and an up-close and personal experience of two very contrasting relationships through which people can engage more deeply with multiple viewpoints around the impact of the practice of veiling and some of the ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS in parts of Africa.

People can even grab some lunch from the venue cafe and enjoy in the spacious airy space that is Assembly Checkpoint.

In UKIMWI, people will meet an American oil worker who is approached by a young Kenyan prostitute in a Cairo bar in a stunning exploration of the ignorance and superstition haunting Africa’s challenges with HIV.

In VEILS – a young, veiled African-American, Muslim student Intisar, seeking her religious and cultural roots, has enrolled for a year abroad at the American Egyptian University in Cairo and rooms with Samar, a budding Egyptian journalist who opposes the gender restrictions of her society. VEILS is a charming & powerful bite-size play centred on the controversial practice of wearing veils…or not.

We want people to feel the atmosphere and that they personally know the characters and their issues.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
We aim to use a simple black box approach with minimal set and iconic props – as we find this engages our audience with the stories immediately and fully. It also means, between each of the plays, we can literally wipe the canvas clean and create one world after another in seconds.

We utilise a powerful ‘inside-out’ method of character development especially aimed at creating authentic characters that our audience relate to right away. It’s a process that we’ve developed over the years with the input of theatre professionals.

The plays are the work of Tom Coash, winner of the 2015 American Theatre Critics Association's "M. Elizabeth Osborn Award", the Clauder Competition, the Kennedy Center's Lorraine Hansberry Award, recipient of an Edgerton Foundation National New Play Award, and a Jerome Fellowship. Coash, who spent four years teaching playwriting at the American University in Cairo, is the author of Bite-Size Breakfast Show favourites Thin Air, the hugely popular tightrope walker monologue, and last year's Raghead exploring veiling in America.

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 treat each play as a unique opportunity to tell a story, engage people with real human insights, inspire and entertain. We’ll draw from multiple genres as and when the play inspires it.

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?
We’ve developed relationships with playwriting competitions and literary agents around the world who send us work that has stood out for them in the year. We then have read through events and public performances, where we take actor and audience votes into account, in putting together each year’s Edinburgh showcases.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The audience ideally will emotionally connect with and experience the point of view of all the characters in each work, and identify the similarities and differences they have with the characters. Many people are both entertained and also challenged in a positive way from our work.

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