Sunday, 19 July 2015

Dramaturgy Ends Badly: Rob Hayes @ Edfringe 2015

Anna Haigh Productions presents
By Rob Hayes. Directed by Clive Judd
Performed by Ben Whybrow

5 – 31 August (not 18 or 25 August)
15:20 (60 mins) | Pleasance Courtyard

The world premiere of a brand new play from the critically acclaimed writer of Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked debuts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August

“You can't even shit... You're being outskilled by the most primitive life forms on Earth”

Rob Hayes’ new one-man tragicomedy weaves the stories of three men around their connection to one woman. ‘Meat Cute’, delivers a candid insight into the clinical precision required to succeed in today's dating game. ‘Misery Guts’, grieving from a break-up, finds his problems only getting worse as constipation sets in. ‘This Pain’ simply wants to die, if only to spare his family the horrors of what his condition will ultimately inflict on them.

Repressed rage; entrenched isolation; compacted bowels. The writer of Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F*cked and the director of Captain Amazing invite you to stare deep into the dark heart of modern man.

‘The best one-man show you're likely to see at the Fringe this year.’
The Telegraph on Captain Amazing

5 – 31 August (not 18 or 25 August) 15:20 (60 mins) Fringe Venue 33: Pleasance Courtyard Sub-venue: Bunker One.

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Rob Hayes: I began with an image (a field), and how that image can be used in different ways as a coping mechanism, or as a tonic for deep-seated psychological problems. This grew into a bigger question of how inherited gender roles can bend us all out of shape, and the behavioural mechanisms we put in place to disguise our warped world views. You'll have to come and see it if you want to know how all that fits together...

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
It's still a great platform to get small plays by emerging artists seen. The attitude is much more democratic than elsewhere. People are more willing to take risks and approach shows with much more of an open mind. It has a unique mix of festival atmosphere and serious commitment to the work that's put on. People want to find distinctive or challenging plays that they can be surprised by and subsequently champion. Venue programmers, producers, and artistic directors still see it as a place to discover new shows and new voices. Plus if you can shotgun a sofa bed and get yourself up there it's a total riot.  

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The show is very spare and focused. A magnifying glass on the nuances of the performance and the small details of the text. I hope people find honesty in the play and either recognise something of themselves in it, or gain an insight into why someone close to them behaves in a particular way. I hope that, at some point or other, they're made to feel uncomfortable. A few laughs too, just to lighten the mood.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Dramaturgy in an unofficial capacity is often hugely beneficial. Having the input of a producer, director, or actor can profoundly influence the final product. My personal process is to absorb dramaturgy gradually over several weeks and repeatedly comb over the text, nudging it (ideally) closer towards where it needs to be with each pass. 

This would preferably continue into the rehearsal room and through previews. My experience with dramaturgy as a discrete role (I've received dramaturgy, and have been a dramaturg) has been less satisfying. Notes and insight are always important, but I'd always prefer to have that come through organically from those deeply invested in the overall production.  

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?
Tough question. I've been influenced by people like Pinter, Beckett, Ionesco, Caryl Churchill, Tim Crouch, Alan Bennett, and Dennis Kelly. But I'm sure there are a dozen other subconscious or semi-conscious inspirations that I couldn't credit. This play in particular draws a lot from fiction writing techniques. David Foster Wallace was a particular touchstone. Hyper-reality and absurdism blended with pure naturalism, and the comedy/tragedy fault line are two (very delicate) balances I try to play with in everything I write. The writers mentioned above are all experts at finding these balances. 

The monologue as a form is a well-flogged horse. In this play I'm trying to nudge the ball upfield by introducing second person singular address, and have one actor perform multiple voices. 

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 develop the story and characters alone, and would tend to do two or three drafts before showing the play to anyone. After that it's much as described above, seeking thoughts and opinions from trusted sources and those involved, and gradually reworking (discovering?) the play. I like actors to bring a lot to the finished text. I'd rather see a confident actor owning their performance than have them stick rigidly to every letter I've written.  

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
The audience are an absolutely crucial part of the work. In my opinion, the audience is not respected enough in the current theatre-making climate, and are often treated as an unfortunate afterthought. This is indicative of the economics of UK theatre, which relies on self-supported artists developing passion projects or career showcases in which the actual paying audience slips down the list of priorities. But that's a different discussion...

You'll probably hear this more than once, but the play completely changes when it's in front of an audience, and you only really understand what you have on your hands when it's being watched by a roomful of people. Similarly, you can never predict an audience's reaction. 

What was a knockabout farce one night might become a solemn meditation on dyspraxia the next, purely because of how the hive mind chooses to interact with the performances and the text. For this reason it's hard to take much away from audience reaction on a nightly basis, only reading into bigger patterns once the production has come to an end. But I think you should always, always have a strong idea of what you want the audience to think and feel when watching the show (which is why your earlier question is particularly astute).

Once the show is being presented, it really belong to the public. However they choose to interpret what you created is as valid as your own opinions.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Only perhaps about the role of potential theatres or producers in shaping an early draft. Should they have input before committing to a production? How much should you yield to their notes if it means a departure from your initial vision? When it comes to plays, supply far outstrips demand - does this tip the scale in favour of literary managers or artistic directors when they share their thoughts on something you've written?  

Writer Rob Hayes recently wrote Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked (Edinburgh Festival). Other writing credits include Step 9 (Of 12) (Trafalgar Studios), which he is currently adapting for the screen, A Butcher of Distinction (Cock Tavern and King’s Head Theatre) and Selling Clive (Lost Theatre). He won the 2013 Tom Erhardt Award for Most Promising Playwright and was also shortlisted in 2013 for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, the Royal Exchange Theatre Hodgkiss Award with director Ned Bennett, and two Off West End awards.

Director Clive Judd trained on the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme at the Watermill Theatre in 2011/12 and was a member of the inaugural Foundry Scheme at the Birmingham Rep Theatre in 2013. Recent directing credits include the Edinburgh Fringe 2013 hit Captain Amazing by Alistair McDowall (Live Theatre, Newcastle), Romeo + Juliet (Watermill Theatre, Newbury) and Why I Don’t Like The Sea (Arcola and Lost Theatre). Forthcoming productions include the 50th year anniversary production of Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs (Southwark Playhouse).

Performer Ben Whybrow trained at LAMDA. Recent theatre credits include The Drowned Man (Punchdrunk), The Winter's Tale (RSC), Dead on her Feet (Arcola Theatre), and The Glass Menagerie (Royal Exchange Theatre). Radio includes BBC's The Archers.

No comments :

Post a Comment