Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Fête Worse Than Dramaturgy: zazU @ Edfringe 2015

Credit: Paul Smith
Visit zazU! A land of opportunity and absolutely no mole infestation problems whatsoever. Last year, visitors to zazU had a lovely time ('I like the water' (Matt Berry)), and found that as well as a lovely holiday they also got a 'side splittingly funny' (Broadway Baby) character and narrative comedy show named one of List's Top Five Debuts 2014. Someone else said: **** (ThreeWeeks). Things have been escalating in the land of zazU, so this year they bring you a show which is even stranger, even more dangerous and ever more epic.

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Katharine Armitage - Director and Co-Writer of zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death: Inspiration is a tricky little bugger to track down. Most people who don’t work in this industry will ask THAT question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ and the truth is that you don’t really know. Because ideas evolve and morph and creep up on you (like Darwinian ninjas). It’s hard to track them down to that first little germ we could label ‘idea’ or ‘inspiration’. If pushed I suppose that the little germ in this case was how funny Morris Dancing is, but things have evolved a long way from that…

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Because it’s a buffet and people like buffets. It’s difficult to persuade audiences, critics, commissioners et c to come to you, so the solution is to go where everyone already is. Is that horribly cynical? Plus Edinburgh has the best cup of coffee in the UK and a hill you can run away on to.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hmmm… expectations are dangerous! We set out with the aim to make people laugh and to create a complete world. What people do with that world and whether they laugh is up to them. I would hope that people might invest emotionally a bit more than they were planning to…

The Dramaturgy Questions

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

We have a loyal following of friends and relations who act as a hive mind dramaturg in providing the bigger picture critique that we need. We use a lot of logic and research to get to the rules that exist in zazU (yes, that’s right, logic. Promise.), There’s a fictional historian of zazU who I can check in with to see how the show works as a whole. I’m not explaining this at all well. Dramaturgy for us is basically a web of fictional logic… No that hasn’t made it better. Time for a nap.

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?
People who (like Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir) have a foot in all of the different worlds. As my grandfather would say ‘There’s nought new i’world’ (which is weird because he lived in Hampshire) so traditions and influences need to be mixed up and merged together. Because there’s a fantastical element to zazU (it exits, after all, in a parallel universe) there are influences from mythology, fantasy, British history… Ultimately we’re about satire of the world as it is right now: it’s an incredibly weird 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?
It’s all collaboration. We are a five headed creature. And a vicious one at that. A thought comes in and it gets thrown between all the heads, changing shape as it goes, often getting thrown out. Then this mad Hydra does some improv and sits bits of its body down at laptops and in comes a script. Which then goes through the same process again and again. Sometimes the monster gets really drunk and one of the heads will start demanding a corneto. Then things get ugly.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
Um, er, how can I put this? What is the role of bread in making the meaning of a sandwich? Forget what the celiacs say: if there’s no bread, it’s not a sandwich. (I’m sure celiacs don’t say that, that was an unfair generalisation for the sake of brevity, sorry celiacs)
Credit: Paul Smith

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Well, it’s not really a question but one thing worth talking about is how creating comedy IS a creative process that requires thought, theatricality, imagination, research and cunning to offer something up to an audience that's fresh and special. We still seem keen to lump together all comedy as insubstantial and theatre as worthy and neither are true. Setting out to make a load of strangers laugh and join us in a world on stage (NOT LITERALLY, DON'T GET ON STAGE), is a challenge we take on with awareness, crippling fear, sheer slog, magic and silliness all playing a key part.

No comments :

Post a Comment