Friday, 31 July 2015

A Dramaturgy of Myself: Lizzie Franks and Nerine Skinner @ Edfriinge 2015


A world of bizarre and chaotically skewed comedy

This brand new, female comedy duo, Franks and Skinner (not Frank Skinner) are proud to be making their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut. They bring their very first show Franks and Skinner Present: Myself and Myself to Just the Tonic, The Bottle Room in The Mash House at 10.40pm

Their sparky, idiosyncratic comedy will introduce you to over 20 characters, where a chaotic world mixes the quirks of human nature and performance with a surreal take on friendship, fertilisation and funkiness. There will be, amongst other things, Elves, Vampires, Cilla Black, public transport and at least two Lorraine Kellys.

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Hello we are Lizzie Franks and Nerine Skinner. We were inspired by a show we compered together at Richmix theatre where we had the chance to improvise onstage as just the two of us and the audience.  We realised we had a fun chemistry and we both have an energetic performance style. We also made each other laugh which seemed like a good first step into creating a comedy duo!

Where does your piece at the fringe fit with your usual work?
Usually we are theatre makers and theatre performers. This is the first time we have dipped our toes (or rather sunk them whole heartedly!) into the comedy world to do a four week run. It feels different to be 'gigging' our show and have so much freedom to improvise but we are both really enjoying it.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hopefully they will laugh! This is our main aim. There are lots of different styles and characters and it's energetic and punchy. There are some 'themes' running through it but we aren't asking the audience to do too much thinking. They can analyse things if they fancy but they can sit back, have a beer and just take in the absurd world we are creating for them.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
It's absurdist and escapist humour. The dramaturgy follows a sketch show formulae but broken up by a few twists and turns. We are experimenting with different styles as it's a first year up and as we go through the run we are expecting that things will develop and change. There are stories and dramaturgy within each scene but the important thing is the comedy. And the cheap props. 

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 are inspired by comedians, sketch shows and comedy series - such as Smack The Pony, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Groucho Marx, Tommy Cooper, Alan Partridge and of course Frank Skinner. We also both love dance so are inspired by all different styles especially funk, jazz, physical theatre and contemporary. 

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 tend to start with improvisation. We throw in a lot of ideas and try stuff out on our feet. Sometimes the improvisations come from bits of script and sometimes they come from games, exercises or more often than not they just suddenly happen. We are also really inspired by music or rhythmic word play. And accents. Even though we are appalling at them. We develop one another's ideas a lot - no sketch feels like it belongs to someone because it changes so much along the way. 

Mainly we wait until something makes us laugh in the rehearsal room and then we develop it. We have a director who helps us with the clown work. We have also had various directors and comedy makers come in and offer advice over the past few months. We stay open to feedback from audiences and professionals and in this way it feels very collaborative. We often go off on tangents in the rehearsal room so rehearsal days can be long - but fruitful. Like a

What do you feel the role of the critic is? 

To offer honest opinions to future audiences and some useful feedback to the performers. Most of us are there to develop and learn more about the area we are in. It's also interesting whether you decide to read negative reviews in Edinburgh - sometimes it's not helpful at the time but better to read them once you get back after a rest! But sometimes it can develop the show for the better. It's a fine balance.

Lizzie Franks from Woodhurst and Nerine Skinner from East Grinstead met working in panto in Newport, South Wales playing two types of French bread, Baguette and Croissant and a comedy double act was born. Their all-embracing attitude to comedy found them discovering their physical side as a pair of Compering Clowns at the Rich Mix Theatre, London. 

They then honed their improvisatory skills at the Stockton International Festival, as Russian, Cossack dancing, Frog tamers. Recognising that they shared a whacky, subversive view of the world and with a background and training in dance and musical theatre, they decided to create surreal and unconventional sketches, characters and routines which gave them the formula for Franks and Skinner Present: Myself and Myself.  

After a sell-out Edinburgh Preview at The Pleasance, London they are ready to take the Festival by storm.Franks and Skinner Present: Myself and Myself is an eclectic mix of song, dance, improvisation, sketches, a saxophone, a flute, a pregnant clown, 90s pop and sparkly jackets. Franks and Skinner also use an overwhelming number of unimpressive, cheap props. They are hoping their addiction to Poundland is by no way a disadvantage.

‘So funny…I cried with laughter’ Amy Clamp – Pleasance Associate Producer

Venue:   No. 288 - Just the Tonic, The Mash House, The Bottle Room
Tickets: £5 (Previews), £7 and Pay What You Want
Time: 22:40 (50mins)

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