Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Baking Dramaturgy: Alex Prescot @ Edfringe2015

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Alex Prescot: The executive committee of the society chooses the show and then the students apply for roles on the production team. As director, I am very glad they chose The Bakewell Bake Off - it’s a new musical which taps into the British passion for baking, making its Edinburgh debut this year!

The show has been performed three times before (once in Guildford and twice in London), so we will be using the script revised through these runs as a starting point from which to create our show.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The society have put on four very successful musicals in Durham this year, and feel that it would be unfair not to allow our talented members the chance to perform at the greatest arts festival in the world.
Also, we had a critically acclaimed run of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at last year's festival, so it seemed an obvious move to come back this year with a new production.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
We promise a visual feast of singing, dancing and acting, mixed well with vibrant characters, bitter rivalries and a few slices of cake to boot. Despite being a fun musical comedy, the show is not without its serious moments that we hope will make the audience think long after the baking competition is over.

There’ll even be a chance to taste some of the cakes, so it caters for all the senses!

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

Whilst the play is set in the present day so extensive research into the historical and socio-political context of the piece was not required, the fact that the baking genre is so popular at the moment undoubtedly informed our decision to programme the work, as it did the Guildford School of Acting’s MA students’ decision to write it back in 2013.

Furthermore, we are working from a script that gives a lot of freedom with regards to choreography and staging, so we will be creating a lot of the show from scratch, adding a few choice secret ingredients to create something truly original.

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 think there are many elements of music hall within the show - ideas of breaking down the barriers between the performers and the audience which we embrace with open arms.

There are also similarities with the approach improvised musical troupes take to their work, such as Baby Wants Candy and Showstoppers, that has informed how the work has been made and will in turn inform our playful approach to rehearsals.

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?
Personally, I’m a strong believer that you should use the ideas every creative person in the rehearsal room, not just those on the production team. The process begins with extensive notes and planning from me as director, the musical director and choreographer, but i think it’s essential to be open to new ideas that might change the direction of certain scenes or numbers.

There will also be elements of devising to form some of the choreography which will involve the whole cast, so anything could happen!

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
In this musical in particular, the audience play the role of the audience at the baking competition, thus forming an integral part of the scenario. How they react to the action unfolding before them will affect how the actors respond to them and each other, so its very much a two-way relationship. 

In addition, the script has been revised according to what has worked and what hasn’t with previous audiences, so how they react on the night could have a profound impact on future shows.

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