Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Dramaturgy Disappears: Ella Cook and Angus Wilkinson @ Edfringe 2015


How long 'til someone is gone, how long 'til missing, how long 'til dead?

Inspired by real events, Cicada Studios' new writing production examines the unseen victims of a missing person case by tracing one girl's search for Sarah.

Zoo Venues - The Monkey House (Venue 124)
14.50 - 15.45 (55 min)
Previews: 7 - 8 Aug
Performance Dates: 9 - 31 Aug 
(No performances on Mon 17 and 24 Aug) 

When Mel’s best friend, Sarah, goes missing at a music festival she wonders if she is the only one really searching. Miss Sarah examines the debilitating nature of hope, focusing on the unseen victims of a missing person case, the ones left behind. 

A Lynchian nightmare, a psychological thriller, one girl’s search for Sarah.
Not only the world-première of a new piece of writing, Miss Sarah is the inaugural production for London-based emerging theatre company, Cicada Studios. 

The Fringe 
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object? 
Responses by Ella Cook and Angus Wilkinson:
Miss Sarah was inspired by the Kate Miller-Heidke song, Sarah, which was based on the true story of a girl who went missing at a music festival and turned up two weeks later with no recollection of where she had been.   

Behind the haunting vocals is an idea more daunting than death, to be missing. Does missing mean to be dead? Or to be a figment of someoneʼs imagination?     

The original production of Miss Sarah was a one-woman show, but has since expanded to include an ensemble cast of four, extending from the original disappearance into each character's own struggles surrounding the missing person case.  

Why bring your work to Edinburgh? 
The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world! It's a place you could easily get lost at. As a new company, especially one whose members are new to the country, what better way to throw ourselves into the theatre scene than perform at the Fringe? Cicada Studios hope to use the Edinburgh Fringe as a launching pad to meet new people and connect with other companies, theatres, producers and audiences from all over the UK and the world. We are excited by the idea that people who may never get a chance to see the show if it was only on in London could stumble on it by chance.   

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?  
At the heart of it, Miss Sarah examines the debilitating nature of hope by following the unseen victims of missing person cases, those left behind. Through personal stories and relationships, we explore what it means to be missing, as opposed to dead, the fear of the unknown and how once missing you become an ʻideaʼ or ʻmemoryʼ with no physical presence in the human world. Often inanimate objects are imbued with the qualities and memories of those missing.   

The play uses the vast landscape of Australia to help magnify the almost impossible task of locating someone who has vanished. Audiences who attend this production may be drawn in by the mystery of the piece, which pays homage to films like Christopher Nolan's Memento. We think it could very well be a vegemite (sorry... Marmite) show, putting fuel into post-show discussions.
The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?  
There is no ʻdramaturgʼ attached to Miss Sarah, but there has certainly been a lot of dramaturgy conducted on the piece. I would define dramaturgy as making the piece of work the best it possibly can be (for theatre). 

During the drafting phase we employed the Royal Court Dramaturgical Report structure to help progress, examining the play through initial response, structure, dramatic action, language, story, and then leaving the playwright with five questions to consider for the following draft.  

As we came closer to the production phase, the dramaturgical questions shifted from story and dramatic action towards how to best realize this within a theatrical space.  

Now, in production, the dramaturgy is focused on theatrical language and conventions. Helping to define and establish the rules and parameters we place around our performance, which best illuminate what our through-line is.   

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?  
Miss Sarah fits into the genre of Australian Gothic, inspired by films that have come out of Australia recently, including Justin Kurzelʼs Snowtown and Cate Shortlandʼs Somersault. Notable Australian theatre that shares similar qualities would be Andrew Bovellʼs When The Rain Stops Falling and Matt Cameronʼs Ruby Moon. The piece has taken a massive leap from the raw monologue style, like that of David Mercataliʼs production of Philip Ridleyʼs Dark Vanilla Jungle, to this modern gothic psychological thriller and family drama inspired by that of David Lynch.   

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?  
Theatre is a collaboration. Although I canʼt recall the practitioner who stated this, it is true that, of all art forms, theatre is the most collaborative. It combines the visual, written, performance and audible disciplines of art to create one cohesive piece, and it inherently holds a trump card against film - Itʼs live!   

Process is something that shifts and evolves over time and projects. Miss Sarah has run the path of a traditional ʻnew-writingʼ approach initially with drafts and dramaturgical reports followed by periods of R & D. However, once we entered the short rehearsal period for EdFringe, the process shifted to a more typical method of working with extant texts, following a Stanislavski Active Analyses approach.       

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?  
Miss Sarah is, to an extent, a puzzle play, and so it is the audienceʼs role to decipher and judge for themselves what really happened. The audience members are the public opinion, the police, the media and the only witnesses.   

Miss Sarah is inspired by real events that took place at the Brisbane Livid Music Festival in 1997, when a young girl went missing for a fortnight, returning with no recollection of what had happened. Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller Heidke's haunting track, 'Sarah' - the launching stimulus for this production - was also inspired by this story.

The search for Sarah transcends the theatre - with ticket treasure hunts, and a chance for audience member faces to feature in the show - taking Fringe-goers round Edinburgh on their own journey to #findsarah.

Cicada Studios was founded by a group of Australian artists all now based in London. After a successful Kickstarter Campaign, which raised over £8,000, they're now ready to 'hatch' their inaugural production. The key creatives have all had successful individual careers as emerging artists, with various members working for: Baz Luhrmann on 'Strictly Ballroom: The Musical' & Chanel No 5, 'The One That I Want', Punch Drunk's 'Against Captain's Orders' and performing in the original production of 'Pomona' by Alistair McDowall.

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