Monday, 13 July 2015

A Gambit for Dramaturgy: Mark Reid @ Edfringe 2015

Award-winning chess drama The Gambit to make its Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut

Twenty-five years of betrayal played out on a chessboard, the lies, deceit and anger erupting in a final, all-or-nothing clash between the defining Grandmasters of the 20th century.

In the tradition of plays like A Walk in the Woods and Copenhagen, The Gambit, explores the nature of friendship, the destructiveness of competition and the mutual co-dependence of the characters. 

Inspired by Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, the play imagines a fictional encounter 25 years after their titanic World Championship battle which created a ruction in the world of chess and their close relationship. Replaying their final game, when the future of the Championship hung in the balance, they relive the history they have shared and whether there could be any hope for a way forward.

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
This was an exercise as part of the Royal Exchange writers group, to bring in a story from that day's newspaper. I found one I felt was inherently undrammatic (two players having a game of chess for the first time in 25 years), to challenge the group. A colleague reversed the challenge on to me. Because there was something in the situation which chimed with my personal life it all came together.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?Partly for the actors to experience Edinburgh and the festival, and
partly because it's a show, a script, that we all believe should have small opportunity to get in front of a wider audience.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
It is an intimate piece of chamber theatre but with two highly intellectual and combative characters - thereby giving plenty of scope for big ideas. Bu it's driven by a universal human story of friendship and what can happen when it goes wrong. It's set in a single room around a chess set but the imagination takes it across Europe.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?As we work less and less with strict text-based work and more towards devising and collaborating, the functions of dramaturgy become more visible in the process. For me, it's about finding the way to help an audience through a performance. 

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?Apart from Shakespeare? Largely whoever I've been looking at most recently. The work of Charles Marowitz. The Young Vic production of View From The Bridge. The Flaming Lips. Beckett and Woody Allen.

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?

No. Once I've done something one way, next time I want to explore a different way. For me, a process is to a performance as my life is to my death - life is by far the most interesting thing.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?

Audiences constantly surprise, undermine, inspire and confuse me. There is never enough time spent engaging with them after they've experienced the work and thought about it.
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
There's the question of how a process plays out, the journey from inspiration to project management.

Mark Reid has been working on the local Manchester scene for a number of years, with a variety of projects. Recently he has curated a festival of experimental theatre and performance and is currently in post-production of an indie film of Titus Andronicus. Other stage works include Yawp and Better Brutality Than Boredom, provocative work which has received high praise. His company Rampant has plans for a second Chaos festival in November, and will stage Mark’s next play in Manchester in early 2016. 

The Gambit, winner of the Buxton Festival Fringe award for Best new Writing in 2013, is making its Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut in Lime Studio, Greenside @ Nicholson Square.

'Definitely a must-see ... an intense battle of ideas and ideals' *****

Steve Walker, Buxton Fringe Reviews.

Venue: Lime Studio, Greenside @ Nicholson Square (Venue 209) 

Tickets: £8 (£6.50) (Previews £4/£3)

Previews: 7-8 Aug 2015 Dates: 10-29 Aug 2015 (not 9, 16, 23) 

Time: 13:50 (50min)

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