Monday, 22 June 2015

The Lonely Poet Talks Dramaturgy: Tim Honnef at The Fringe 2015

The Fringe
GKV: What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Tim Honnef: The thing that I remember about the writing process is that it happened last year, around the start of September. I was in my room, with my laptop on my legs, some music on the background, and my eyes closed.

Then suddenly my mind provided me with a picture of a boy on a couch, surrounded by paper.

He looked angry at the crowd. There was a girl sitting next to him.

That image stayed with me for a long time. I thought about the fact that he was angry, and the things that could have made him so mad. I thought about the girl, that was sitting next to him, without saying some words. About the paper on the ground. About the couch.

I thought a lot about that image and I started developing a story in my head. I thought about it all the time.

And then, some time later that month, everything started to make sense. I started writing on the script and then The Lonely Poet was born.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
When I finished writing The Lonely Poet I did some try-outs in a few theatres. After those shows and after I saw the reactions the show got I knew I wanted to bring this work to Edinburgh. I'm proud of the show and really want to show it to the people in Edinburgh and international audiences from all over the world.

Last year my show Stories of My Life, Played By Other People premiered at the Sweet Venues. People from around the world came to see the show and almost everybody really got into the story of the show. The reactions of people during and after the show were great and really rewarding. 

And besides that the venue (Sweet Venues, at the Grassmarket) is a really, really great venue. The venue staff really care about the performers and the audience. It almost feels like one big family that support each other in every single way.

I want to show the audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe the new show and the story of the show in the beautiful intimate International 3 at Sweet Venues and see what happens with the audiences during and after the show.

I can't wait until it's August.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
That's something that I can't predict. People at the try-outs laughed during the shows. Some people cried at the end. Some people were a bit scared of the character. For some people it's a show, for others it's an experience and for one person in the audience it's going to be something of a reality. Because it's a solo show.... that isn't really a solo show.

So while the script will be the same every day there's a huge chance the show will be not.

The Dramaturgy Questions

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 like to see as much theatre and comedy as possible. I'm always curious what other people have created and how they see the world. And I think every work that you see influences the way you think in some way.

When I was sixteen I was really influenced by a Dutch comedian. It was the first time I saw that it was possible to be alone on a stage and possible to talk about the things you want to talk about. He was the one that made me realise that that was something that I really wanted to do because before that I liked to perform on stage but somewhere I knew that being part of a cast playing a script written by somebody else wasn't really for me.

What I love about theatre is playing with fiction and reality and the line between them. Suspension of disbelieve is something I'm also interested in. I like work that messes with your mind and makes you question what you saw.

I saw a lot of good work. I really liked the first shows of Dutch comedian Micha Wertheim because he plays with the audience and their perspection of theatre. The way he plays with the medium is amazing.

A few weeks ago I saw Kim Noble in Utrecht and that show was great. Maybe one of the best works I've ever seen. It was hilarious, sometimes too vulgar, and really emotional at the same time.

Wim T. Schippers is also someone that was a big influence on me. He makes really surrealistic work. His theatre pieces are brilliant and he has great ideas. One time he made a show called Going to the Dogs, which was a play with dogs casted as the actors. One of them almost pissed on the front row. You can't make that stuff up. But he can.

I also really like the work of Daniel Kitson, Dave Gorman, the play Solfatara I saw at the Fringe a few years ago, the Mighty Boosh, Dutch comedian Herman Finkers (if there's one reason to learn Dutch, he's it), de Vertelketel, Sam Simmons (surrealistic, absurdistic, f'ing funny) and Strangely Doesburg (great songs and stage presence).

I don't see myself within any tradition.

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 all starts with the script, but every time the writing process is different. I have never been the type that has a Word document in front of his face and a lot of questions marks above his head trying to start working on a script. 

I am a fast writer. But that's mostly because I think about the show and the things I want to make all the time. Whenever I hear music I'm thinking about the possibility of it being in the show. When I ride on my bike to wherever, or taking a shower, or lying in bed, I'm thinking about the show. 

Bits and pieces come up in my mind. I write poems that are totally unrelated, but turn out to be related when I read them after a few weeks or months and they seem to fit perfectly within (the theme) of the show. Then, after a period of time, without thinking about it or planning it, I just start writing and finish the script in a few weeks to a few months time.

Then it's editing time. After that I schedule some try-outs where I read the script. In front of an audience. Some shows are open for audience members, some for close friends and people with an understanding of theatre that can criticize the work and give me feedback. Then it's back to the writing board, making changes. After that it's time to work on the show with my girlfriend and a close friend of mine called Herman. They both direct the show and give feedback. We work a couple of weekends on the show.
Then it's try-out time again but this time I'm playing the show without the script.

After that it's ready to hit the road. This time that means Edinburgh because the world premiere will take place at the Fringe.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?

Two-sided. On one hand it's important to see and hear what the audience think during and after the show. But I'm not writing it with the audience, or critics, or anybody else on my mind. I want to deliver the work I want to make and when I'm starting to think about what they might want to see (might want, because as a writer you can never predict what the audience or critic wants or doesn't want to see). I'm just making, creating, writing the show I want to write, create, make. Something that's totally me and the story I want to tell.

So in the writing and creating process I'm not to busy thinking about what an audience would think about the show, but when I start playing it they are the people that come and see it, so then they and their opinions are important to me. I really want to know what people think when the show is finished because I'm interested in that.

This show it will be really interesting, because there is a fourth wall, but for some there isn't. It's hard to explain this without spoiling anything so if you're curious you have to come to the Sweet Grassmarket at 18:10 between the 6th and 23th of August to see what I'm talking about.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?

Not really. I want to wish you good luck with your study and hope to see you at the Fringe! I want to add one question, you may choose if you want to publish it.

Are there any other shows you are looking forward to seeing at the Fringe and which you would recommend to the readers of this Blog?

I certainly am. I can't wait to see:

Joseph Morpurgo at the Pleasance (his show last year was amazing and so innovative).

ANGRY at Sweet Grassmarket because it sounds like a really raw spoken word theatre show and that's something I really like.

Alex Lacey is Killing Jim at Sweet Grassmarket because I've missed last years show and after reading the reviews it's that kind of weird show that I'm really going to enjoy.

Daniel Kitson at Summerhall, because the tape concept sounds like a wonderful idea.

Will Greenway at Underbelly. Last year's show Vincent Goes Splat was a spoken word gem.

Strangely Doesburg's Roaring Accordion at Sweet Grassmarket, because that guy is one of the best performers I've ever seen.

On Track, a show from Belgium at Summerhall, about a girl that walks on a treadmill for the entire show while talking about her life, which sounds amazing.
And Sam Simmons. Because he's Sam Simmons. And he's playing a new show.

And of course I recommend seeing The Lonely Poet at Sweet Grassmarket, because I want to show you the show and because there has to be an audience for it to be a solo show.... (or, well, kind of).

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