Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Eulogy for Dramaturgy: Toby Peach @ Edfringe 2015

 The Eulogy of Toby Peach - One in three of us will experience cancer first-hand and now Toby Peach brings this universal issue to the stage. The Eulogy of Toby Peach is the story of his journey with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Toby didn’t know what cancer was, what happens when it’s treated and the effects it can have. A Eulogy is a celebration of life - we will all need one; Toby is just delivering his now. This original piece explores a true story and an important and difficult subject in a refreshing, insightful and humorous way. Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly) from 6th August at 2.50pm.

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
The production is inspired by true stories from my time with cancer between the ages of 20-22. I developed a short story for BAC’s London Stories at the end of 2013 which dipped into my journey with cancer and it was the first time I decided to speak openly about having cancer. It is a very tricky subject to engage an audience with but the feedback was really positive and I decided to dive deeper into what had happened to me and to millions of others. 

I began researching and writing, trying to work out what had actually happened to me and soon discovered that I wanted to deliver my story if it could help others who face it directly or indirectly - unfortunately that is now the majority of us. It has taken a lot of work, and still has plenty to go, but we’re really excited about taking the next steps and bringing this story to the Edinburgh audiences, and hopefully beyond.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
I have never been to Edinburgh Fringe Festival before (I’ve never even been to Edinburgh!) but I wanted to get the work out there to be seen by an audience and when an opportunity came up through IdeasTap I thought it was worth a try. For me the award was completely unbelievable- I never thought someone would book a show that has the man’s name in the title and talks about cancer!

Edinburgh is the perfect chance to get the work out there and deliver the message I hope comes across when watching it. Edinburgh is about reaching a broad audience and helping others understand what cancer is.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
1 in 2 of us will have some form of cancer in our lifetimes. This show gives an insight into that world and aims to give hope for the future. I hope that in showing a true story about facing cancer, and the challenges that come with it, it will support people who will face it either in their family or in their own lives. I hope as well that it acknowledges the extraordinary lengths that humanity has gone to, and continues to go to, to give patients a chance of survival. 

I realised I didn’t understand what cancer, a word feared all over the world, really was when I was having treatment and it wasn’t until years afterwards that I stopped and thought ‘What actually happened?’ This show highlights the science of that disease, but also how we combat it. I aim to make a show that makes this difficult subject matter accessible to a wide audience, through delivering an entertaining and engaging true story.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
The role David Jackson, who has been helping me sculpt the work and now is the director of the show, has played has been invaluable. We worked together to unpack the stories I had, and his outside eye allowed me to focus on writing the stories that an audience could engage with. 

The difficulty with autobiographical work, as I quickly discovered, is that you come with the baggage of the memories, which can sometimes hinder the process. The memories are wonderful to have as the source as they’re so rich, but being prepared to dive deeper into some and release others can be hard to do as the holder of those memories but you need to do it as you’re not the audience. 

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?

This is my first time doing solo work, something I never thought I would do. So I have taken to speaking to artists who make solo work and watched as much as I could to learn from them. I loved watching Bryony Kimmings performing and her passion coming through her work. Away from solo work I have been in awe of the work of ICT recently and had the pleasure of doing a course with them recently. 

Their show Brainstorm was very inspirational and their exploration of what it means to be a young human was a bold piece of theatre. I have recently found the productions that speak the most to me are ones that are honest and you can see the performers are passionate about their storytelling, this is where I will be striving to reach with my show.

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?

As this is my first experience of working on solo work I can’t say I have a process but I have learn a lot from this one. I have recently become an Associate with theatre makers Coney and have had the chance to develop my craft with them throughout the years. I come from a process of thinking about the audience from the outset, why are we making the work and why would an audience bother to come and see it. I think it’s really important in our current arts climate to keep our audience in my mind right from the off- it may seem obvious but I don’t think we always do; we have to be unselfish. 

Collaboration has been a key part of this process and although it’s a solo show there are so many people who have been kind enough to help develop it and make it the show I hope it will become at Edinburgh. Collaboration allows us to diversify our skills by bringing in skilled individuals from other sectors, I could not do what my lighting, sound or designer are doing- and I’ve already learnt so much from them.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Whether it’s a theatre audience or your participants in a workshop, they are the most important people.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Why do we make our work….it’s always insightful!

No comments :

Post a Comment