Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Cowardly Dramaturgy: Jimmy Walters has a Naughty Night

The Show

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
At Proud Haddock we celebrate the work of great playwrights from Great Britain and it was the thought of going back to this period that excited me. It was really just Coward himself that inspired me and this side of his work that I felt would be appealing to watch.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They can expect a “back in time” experience. Our aim right from the get go was for the audience to feel like they’re walking into this world and this means an ambitious set as well as costumes that bring the audiences into 1920’s/30’s London high society as well. It’s a performance but it’s also an experience. It’s exciting because as well as being nostalgic for the older audience members, these plays are also to an extent unearthed and rarely performed so it’s also fresh and new.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I’m a big believer in the idea of several imaginations being better than one. I like to create an environment of collaboration in rehearsals where everyone can feel free to come up with ideas however stupid or ridiculous. Sometimes you only get the best ideas if the worst are examined as well. It’s very important to me that every member of the team understands how they’re involvement keeps the show afloat.

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’m a traditionalist at heart and my biggest influences range from Peter Hall, Sam Walters to Sam Mendes. I still however like to be daring.. I assisted for Christopher Geelan of the Young Shakespeare Company two years ago who inspired in me a desire to preserve the original intention of the script and cutting to the core of the emotion in a scene. 

My drama teacher at school Mandy was very anarchic in her work and liked to stir up the dust and divide an audience. These two main influences going hand in hand I feel give my shows a faithfulness and a boldness that work together.

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?
Sitting round and chatting is one of the most important parts for me. I don’t tend to go in too academically by sitting with a paper and pen going through the beats and the rhythms. To me it’s important for the cast to feel hugely excited before rehearsing a scene and by discussing everything about the characters and the world they’re playing in together collaboratively, they tend to bring this excitement into the scene. There are several exercises that are fun to play around with. 

Two cast members playing each other’s characters can be interesting and revelatory to both of them. Changing the location of the scene can free up imaginations and stop actors being boxed into one way of playing the parts. All of these exercises lead you hopefully towards a scene that has been organically discovered and it relies very heavily on collaboration and the cast supporting each other; sinking and swimming as an ensemble.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The audience to me are there to be won over. I assume that they’re not on side and that their attention needs to be grabbed right from the start. If we assume they’ve just had a long, lousy day at the office and they’ve come in with no expectations then it spurs everyone on to grab them and it’s always important to have the part of your brain on stage monitoring whether they’re with you or not. They are a vital part of the evening and every audience is different which gives each performance a different edge.

No comments :

Post a Comment