Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Wooden Dramaturgy: Belfast Boy @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Kat Woods: I was working in a restaurant in Clapham Junction London and I had just written a one woman show called Dirty Flirty Thirty. My colleague Martin Hall had been to every single show when we performed it in London. I had often sat with Martin at the end of a shift and we would swap stories about our past and one night he asked me to write about him -as a joke! 

From there Belfast Boy was born. His story is harrowing yet funny. Never drunkenly give a writer the authorisation to write about your life- it might just happen!

Why bring your work to the Edinburgh Fringe?
I had the play on as a scratch night in London in the February of 2014 and someone suggested that it would be an amazing piece for the Edinburgh Fringe. I had never been before, so I thought what the hell and I decided to produce it myself and take it.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
It is a rollercoaster of emotions. You will laugh and cry and cry and laugh sometimes at the same time! I think this quote from Fringe Review sums up the feeling that you are left with when you leave the theatre space

"The script represents a marvelous achievement in narrative flow and authenticity…I think some new ground has been broken here. Many solo shows which deal with autobiographical material concerning abuse tinker too much with the truth of it…I came away deeply moved by this production. I needed time to “process” it and let go of it before sleep. I woke up with it still there, like shadows and a few warmer echoes. This is a very special piece of theatre in an intimate setting. It has to be one of the must see solo shows at the Fringe". ★★★★★ Fringe Review

The Dramaturgy Questions

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

Before I embarked on a Drama degree I studied Sociology. It is this sociological background that I source from when I write. Belfast Boy is based on a true story and so dramaturgy features massively on the retelling of his life and how we see the character.

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 think my writing lends a lot to traditional Irish story telling. Using the method of embodied characterisation to link the narrative flow. I am influenced in my writing by Enda Walsh and Conor McPherson. I actually think I may get done for stalking Enda Walsh!

 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 generally have an idea of what to write and it will sit in my brain for two to three months. I will research around the topic matter in that time and hardly sleep as it generally keeps me awake at night. So far, even with the comedy I have written, there is a massive dark element to my writing. 

I seem to become an emotional vessel and own the pain that I write about until I put it on paper. (That sounds totally mental...alas it is true!) The writing itself takes maybe a few days a week. Then I like to get what I have written, the first draft so to speak, on it's feet and get it performed. I trained as a director so I tend to direct my own work. I like to have the actors input and see what works for whom ever performs the piece. 

Once the play is performed, I try to gauge audience reaction for what works and what doesn't work I will redraft it and keep redrafting until I feel the play is finished.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I feel that the audience are imperative in terms of making meaning of the work. If something doesn't work and it is so the opinion of the majority of the audience I will rework it so that it has some meaning. 

That only refers to the actual telling of the story. The story itself will remain but if the narrative does not serve to explain what I set out to do then something is wrong and i think it's important to listen to the audience and work out the issues. Unless the piece is supposed to be abstract... then meaning is an individual experience!

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