Thursday, 16 July 2015

Dramaturgy Lesson:Amy Jephta @ Edfringe 2015

New international black comedy about growing up and losing out.
Flight Lessons is coming to the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The play is a dark comedy for expats who find that the grass definitely isn’t always greener. This exciting play tells the stories of two women, both played by UK-based South African actress Saria Steel, intertwined by the loss of friendship and the strangeness of moving halfway across the world. Maya is a young, white Afrikaans woman living in a tiny flat in London. One day she receives a phone call from her mother.

Mother: “Anika tried to kill herself again.”
Maya: “She get it right this time?”

DIRECTOR: Lisa Cagnacci
WRITER: Amy Jephta
CAST: Saria Steel
PRODUCER: Hannah Turk
DESIGNER: Louise Lockhart
FILM MAKER: Nick Strachan

What inspired the play?

Amy Jephta: Saria, the actress who performs Flight Lessons, started having a conversation with me over Skype. We wanted to collaborate on a story that we both felt interested in and strongly about. Our conversations veered in the direction of what it felt like to be young and South African, moving through the world, living in another country. How the place always seemed to stay with you and in you, no matter where you went. So those initial conversations is what started Flight Lessons.

Why did you feel the need to write it?
I think plenty of young South Africans go seeking greener pastures somewhere else, because living in South Africa has a tendency to make you feel quite isolated, sometimes. It's a tiny corner of the world that can feel very removed. I thought that was an interesting story to engage with.

What do you hope for this year's Edinburgh production of Flight Lessons?
As with all plays, you hope someone sees the work and feels moved by it, or connects to it. I hope people find it funny, and maybe a bit sad. I guess in the end, having it out there is the most important thing.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Hannah Turk: We wanted to bring the Edinburgh audiences, old and new, together into a space that supports new writing and emerging artists. In tandem with promoting and discussing the production, we are excited about creating a community with the many artists across the festival and enjoying the Fringe whilst making sure Flight Lessons is out there and accessible to all. The venue we are using has an intimate atmosphere which will draw audiences into Saria’s electric performance of a play extremely close to her heart. Everyone says you should come to the Fringe with a clear goal to achieve - we want to have the play and performance recognised, and make contacts as individuals emerging in creative careers.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?As a new international play written by the award winning South African playwright Amy Jephta, this show tells a fresh and very relatable story. The audience will be taken on a real journey, physically and imaginatively, where they will be constantly questioning which side to take between Maya and Anika’s long and fractured friendship. We don't expect specific thoughts to arise in our audience, but we definitely hope they will enjoy the light with the dark and find the play relatable and sometimes cathartic.

The play is written for Saria Steel by South African playwright Amy Jephta whose work has been showcased at the Royal Court and the Bush Theatre in London and published in South Africa. In 2013, Amy was on the Mail & Guardian’s list of 200 Top Young South Africans and listed in Destiny magazine’s Top 40 Women Under 40 issue in 2014.

Director Lisa Cagnacci is Theatre503’s Associate Artistic Director and a former associate at the Southwark Playhouse. .

First previewed in full as part of the Jermyn Street Theatre's South African Season in July 2014, to a sold out show with an international audience. Flight Lessons was incredibly well received with European & South African audience members, who commented on the relatable feeling of coming 'home' after being away, and felt they really identified with Maya's journey.

“Saria Steel gives a wonderfully funny and moving performance in this cracking new play from one of South Africa's most exciting emerging playwrights.” - Anthony Biggs, Artistic Director of the Jermyn Street Theatre.

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