Monday, 13 July 2015

Dramaturgy ain't for Sissies: Miss Jessica Sherr @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Jessica Sherr: Well, darling it all started when someone said I had “Bette Davis Eyes”. I didn’t know a thing about Miss Davis and so like any young actress I googled her and I was shocked at our resemblance. Even more so I was intrigued by her spunk and downright Diva. 

At the time I was in a class and I had to create a famous person. I was going to do Lucille Ball (As she is a funny red head like me) but Miss Bette Davis had captivated me and I felt it would be a better exercise to create a character whom I knew little about and this would stretch me as an actress. I NEVER planned on writing a one-woman show, it just happened and I am ever so grateful that I have “Bette Davis Eyes”.

Why bring your work to the Edinburgh Fringe?
Oh that is an easy question, because the Scots love me and I adore a great crowd. It’s true audiences are very special at the Edinburgh Fringe. I am amazed at how quiet you all are during the show and then rambunctious after the show. I love your honest and true reactions and your desire to see the show again and again. Edfringe is such a gem with amazing opportunity to be seen and heard…two of my favorite things in life.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
You can expect to feel the passion and desire of Bette Davis. Her spirit will make you skip out the door with elation. You will absolutely want to see a Bette Davis film, you will be inspired to take over the world and you will have a giant grin on your face as you will have been taken on a journey with a woman whose courage is bigger than Hollywood itself.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
We must all fight for our dreams. Bette teaches us that you can never give up and you must be clear on what you want in life and find ways to make your dreams reality. In order to succeed you have to work really hard and be honest with yourself about what you want in life. My play brings about the discussion of how to be bigger than life and NEVER EVER GIVE UP.

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?

I start with research. I read books and watch films. While watching Bette’s films I really study her body language. If you notice she uses her hands quite a bit. She has this certain type of energy in her fingers and she rubs them together. I then read books about the world. What has happening in the 1930s, how was Hollywood behaving, who were the main players of this special time? Finally I make a decision about what story I want to tell. In this case it was the story of young Bette Davis fighting her way to the top. I wanted to find moments in her life that were lesser known to most fans and that way you would leave thinking “I never knew that about Bette Davis”.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? Wow that is a great question. Audience has been huge for me. I learn from you. I listen to you. I have added scenes because of your suggestions and your feedback is invaluable. Three years ago I learned from my audience that you really wanted to see this show. I sold out all my seats and had standing room only. Had I not taken my show to Edfringe in 2013, I might have given up. My audience proved to me that this play is necessary and that each year when I return my audience grows and I truly can say I have an amazing fan base thanks to Edinburgh Fringe.

“Fasten your Seat Belts!” Bette is Back to Edfringe 2015!

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