Thursday, 25 June 2015

Zosia Jo tells her side of dramaturgy...

Zosia Jo says:
I started making Herstory because I wanted to find a way to bring my performance poetry and my choreography together. A lot of the poems were about relationships, good, bad and ugly. A tricky theme in which to steer clear of cliché, but it’s something that everyone can relate to. Keen to avoid self-indulgence, I appealed online for other women’s accounts of their relationships. 

What came back was touching, terrifying, and galvanizing. Suddenly, I had a piece that is not just personal, but political- a social commentary on domestic violence, our reluctance to talk about it, its hidden nature, and the fact that it has existed and happened for far too long. 

To this end I am also trying to support charities that support survivors of domestic abuse. I will have a collection bucket and information leaflets at every show in support of Health In Mind, who support survivors and families affected.

Venue: ZOO, Venue 124, 140 Pleasance, EH8 9RR
Tickets: 7-8 August £5 / 9-22 August £9 (£7)
Dates: 7-22 Aug 2015
Time: 14:25

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I began with a collection of my poetry and a call for stories from other women. The narrative and theme emerged because of the personal stories that were sent to me

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Because my work doesn’t fit neatly into the ‘dance’ box or the ‘theatre’ or ‘spoken word’ boxes… its all three… The fringe is a happy home for all things mixed and experimental.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
I have been told that this show is very moving, that you go for an emotional roller coaster ride through the relationship with me, from flirtation through love and on to betrayal and break down… but that it is also very hopeful and uplifting - “a powerful testament to survival and renewal”. 

A male friend also shared that he was very moved- so its not just for women! 

The audience will see my vulnerability and risk… they will feel anger on behalf of some of my contributors, they will laugh and maybe shed a tear.

The score- by Tom Sinnett - is bluesy and jazzy and gives the whole thing a funky vibe (or at least that is how it feels to me!) People have said they loved the music, its certainly great to move to.

The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
This is the most narrative driven work I’ve ever made. For me the challenge was in combining several stories, which each had diverse voices, totally different outcomes, and different emotions attached. I wanted to make it one story so that it is relatable, you can look at the character in front of you and believe it is all my story. 

So the dramaturgy of bringing these voices together into one character, that’s what makes it interesting.

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 have been inspired by many poets and spoken word artists, especially my friends Miriam Nash, Elizabeth Amato and Agnes Meadows, all three strong women writing powerful words and performing unapologetically and disregarding taboo. 

I also find Jonzi D’s methods of combining two hip hop traditions of spoken word and dance very engaging. In my early days of writing I came across Scrobius Pip and his collaboration with Dan Le Sac had me dancing around my bedroom. 

It showed me how rhythm, movement and words could be more powerful than the sum of their parts. There is something so visceral about spoken word when it is performed from the gut- and music and movement both connect me to that place.

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?

This is the first time I ever worked on a solo so the process was totally new for me. The first thing I did was create the script, weaving the stories together around my poems. Then I looked for the gaps in emotion… where did I need to go deeper and could movement say what the words left out… so I created movement from the emotions or feelings. 

At that point I had the music made also based on the feelings… ultimately I scrapped most of the initial movement because I much prefer responding to music- so it became more collaborative with Tom at that point.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I simply hate rehearsing this work. Its like having a conversation with yourself in the mirror and its really painful. Its a tough story- I need someone there to engage with the telling of it.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Dramaturgy is unique to the production- in dance it is often absent and leads to confusing narrative, or total abstraction- which is fine, but I think audiences like things to make sense- even if they only make sense in a bizarre alternate reality that belongs solely to that work.

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