Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Dramaturgy is Good for Kids:Ian Garrett @ Edfringe 2015

Yuffa Fringe presents 
Nudity, Free Beer, Good for Kids, 

a shameless scheme with prizes to get you to Venue 13 

Toronto/Edinburgh - Nudity, Free Beer, Good for Kids (NFBGFK), is a high energy commentary on the Fringe free market and how to create a show using the three best selling strategies: Nudity, Free Beer, Good for Kids. The show includes car chases, prophet cows, spir0t animal foxes, and one show stopping musical number. The title is the description is a promise  NFBGFK runs from 11:20, Saturday, August 8, 2015 to Saturday August 29, 2015 at Venue 13 on Lochend Close, just 50m past Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile. 

Iis a competition between three rival groups, vying to be the ones to put on their fringe show, Farmhand Joey, their own way… with Nudity, Free Beer, and Good for Kids. The audience are our investors sitting in on the first previews. Each investor has the opportunity to invest in the group they want to win. The scores will be tallied at the end of the night and prizes awarded to the winning cast and investors. The show is partially scripted and partially improvised anew each night, but NFBGFK guarantees fun for all. 

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Ian Garrett: The inspiration was something that I heard in a class I took about PR, in which the instructor threw out a comment about how the three things that always sell are nudity, free beer (or any alcohol), and if something is good for kids. He said you'd be set if you could work all three into one show. So I proposed we try and exploit everything we know about marketing, public relations, and all gimmicks to make as fun a show as possible.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
For me it's my eighth year bringing shows, and my 31st show (plus the Sustainable Practice Award). So, part of it is that I feel very comfortable in Edinburgh. I love both trying to get people see shows in the sea of content that is the Fringe's free market economy, and I love that it's also an opportunity to see so much work and (hopefully) be in conversation with it.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?

Fun. This show is going to be a lot of Fun. I hope that we'll communicate some idea about the absurdity of how marketing and PR manipulates an audience... but, it's all tongue in check and a lot of fun. 

As long as they don't regret coming. I mean, the only place I've ever been offended by a show "wasting" my time is in Edinburgh, when I could have seen a hundred other things. So, i don't want them to think that or that they'd be better off getting a sandwich (that's from a review I got a few years back).

The Dramaturgy Questions

 How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Well, insofar as dramaturgy equals research, it's a bit of everything. I prefer work to have a great deal of integrity, so I take a nearly academic approach to devising work. Something about loading moments with meaning so that there is as much informing a show as possible.

Of course, sometimes my worry is that I get too deep into knowing a piece, and lose sight of what someone will get from it without having done a bunch of homework. But, I think that's the trick of the type of work I like to make: How do you load as much information as possible into a drama, but then turn that into something somatic or visceral that doesn't require a bunch of notes or exposition.

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?

Though I don't think it's as evident in this piece, I think that Richard Foreman has been a big influence. I had a chance to work with him on an opera once, and the process of developing it, though really done in his mind and not as an ensemble, is really interesting. I think the Wooster Group's use of media, pop culture and then collage is influential... even if I'm not a huge fan of their work in recent years. I like a bit of verbatim theatre. I really appreciate the work of TEAM, which has been a fringe darling... and the physical work of Gecko and Theatre Infinitum.

But, I think the biggest influence is the collaborative design process
actually. I don't know what to call this, but I'm trained as a designer at the heart of things. First as an Architect, then in Performance. In that process, you essentially have a brief that you're trying to solve. Sometimes it's a community centre with accessible bathrooms, but sometimes it's about how to talk about the lose of memory and identity due to aging. 

So I would list some architects here. Someone like Peter Eisenman, and the way he let's site and history influence his design is a key influence. Design and Theorist Bruce Mau as well as folks like Rem Koolhas, Sanford Kwinter and media god father Marshall Mcluhan shape my world view.

But, not to be stuck in an Ivory tower, i probably owe as much to Improv comedy. My wife went through the conservatory at Second City, and I grew up around a lot of comedians and sketch performers due to my parents' jobs. So I think my dramaturgical approach is somewhere between critical theory, contemporary performance techniques and improv comedy... The Builder's Association I think gets somewhere in here... anyway I don't know how I end up entertaining anyone but myself!
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?
We sort of know what we want to do thematically. I tend to come in with lots of content that works towards a collage of sorts. We see how that inspires text, or movement, or the design and work it through as an idea that we can embody on stage. 

All of these stems come together and we try to develop these around our desired narrative or thematic arc, the guide to pull the audience through the story or the idea. And then we work work work. Part of this is just getting it on it's feet, part of this is working with outside eyes and a dedicated editor and/or writer to form it into something on a page. And then work it.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
For this show, everything. This is pretty clearly a gimmick.. but intentionally and to reveal that it is that thing. Also, that these things, these gimmicks for getting people in are all around. To some extent, it will require the audience's attendance and attention to inform that (hopefully humorously). 

So it's meta in that way... but self-aware that we're trying to manipulate the audience, and that we're in this together. We're going to have a good time with each other... and if you don't, we'll at least buy you a drink.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
How is this show different from others? Maybe. This is almost about getting out all the sillies after all of the shows I've done in Edinburgh. After bringing work in earnest to be considered. Sometimes it works out, though more often it doesn't. And I always wonder about how one cracks the code. 

So in some ways this is about throwing all of the effort into what gets an audience to see something, as opposite to trying to be sneaky about it. So I'm really excited with this process since it's not just about dramaturgy and devising around an idea, but all of the benign manipulation of how you then convince someone to see the show is there and integrated right into the show.

NFBGFK also has an online component to let people play along from anywhere (no beer though). In the online version you will be able to vote for your favourite competitors from the comfort of your home or the convenience of your mobile device! Are you now or have you ever been a kid? You’ll love Team Good For Kids! Do you like foxy ladies? You sound like the Team Nudity type! Have you purchased anything from anywhere, ever? You’ll appreciate Team Free Beer! 

This is Yuffa’s second year at the Fringe. Last year was the inaugural year of Yuffa Fringe. In 2014 they brought their show Victims of Influence, an original and devised piece that took a feminist perspective on the Frankenstein story, looking at what makes a woman monstrous in today’s society. The Mumble gave Victims of Infuence  5 Stars, saying: “ This is a brilliantly executed piece of theatre, with gripping physical movements pulsating through an excellently written script.” And, the Scotsman called the performance, “Energetic and committed”. 

The show is being performed at Venue 13, which promotes emerging and established talent at the Edinburgh Fringe. Run from Cardiff, it features work and artists from Wales, the UK and further afield, particularly the US and Canada. For the last 11 years, Venue 13 has been proud to be the Edinburgh home of CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) Festival Theatre.

Yuffa Fringe is supported by York University in Toronto, Canada and gives students and alumni the ability to bring new work to Edinburgh each year. 

The show opens at 11:20 on Saturday August 8, 2015. The show runs 6 days a week, with no performances on Tuesdays. Venue 13 is closed on Monday, August 17. This show will also be taking part of the 2 for 1 discount on Monday August 10th  

Tickets will be sold at £8 for General Admission with £6 concessions. 

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