Thursday, 2 July 2015

Dramaturgy is for the Birds: Camilla Whitehill @ Edfringe 2015

Where Do Little Birds Go - this uplifting and beautiful one-woman play (based on the real-life story of Lisa Prescott) tells the story of Lucy Fuller, an 18-year-old girl abducted by the Kray Twins in 1960s London. A razor-sharp and humorous exploration of sexual exploitation and class, it follows Lucy's journey from small-town teenager to London sex worker. This is the story of Lucy's terrifying time with Ronnie, Reggie and Frank ‘The Mad Axeman’ Mitchell. Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 6th August at 8.55pm.
The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

Camilla Whitehill: I wrote the first draft of the script after reading about the story that the play is about. I've always been interested in crime and criminal psychology, but in this case I was much more interested in the victim and what could have happened to her before and after.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?It's the best arts festival in the world, the play is the perfect length for it, and I think the play deserves the wide and diverse audience that the Fringe attracts.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hopefully the play captures East London in the 1960s pretty well, but at its core the play is a coming of age story - albeit a coming of age under extreme circumstances. Expect music, movement, and perhaps the sort of intensity of feeling a solo piece can conjure.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?Sarah Meadows, the director, has been developing the play with me since day one, and without ever setting that role specifically was most certainly the dramaturg. Every draft was read, explored, and discussed by and with her. She is a genius.

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?
There have been some extraordinary solo pieces in the last few years that have lifted the medium into new and exciting territory. I was moved to explore the format after seeing pieces like Charlotte Josephine's Bitch Boxer and Luke Barnes' Bottleneck, and since beginning development of Where Do Little Birds Go, have been further inspired by plays like Philip Ridley's Dark Vanilla Jungle and Simon Stephens' Seawall, and also by less traditional solo pieces like Stuart Bowden's Before Us and Christopher Brett Bailey's astonishing This Is How We Die. The freedom of expression when you have one performer on stage is enormous and exciting.

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'm not sure I have a set process, being at such an early point in my career - I'm up for exploring loads of different ways of working - but collaboration, writing for and with specific directors and actors, is both very rewarding and extremely helpful.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Theatre isn't theatre without an audience. It's the first thing you need. I try to constantly think about how I would feel as an impartial viewer - which is almost impossible, but if you're not making work for an audience, then I think you're probably just going to be making self-obsessed rubbish...

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Don't ask me, I'm a moron.

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