Thursday, 2 July 2015

Dramaturgy walks the line: Ronnie Dorsey @ Edfringe 2015

Ronnie Dorsey Productions PRESENTS
A Fine Line
Venue: Baillie Room, Assembly Hall, Mound Place, EH1 2LU
Dates: 06 -31 August
Start and end times: 15:10 (16:10)

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or an object?
Ronnie Dorsey: Now that I am older, I am more aware than ever that human relationships are timeless in the challenges they face, it’s the approval - or censure - of society that changes over time. 

How wonderful is it that people can love one another, yet how awful that until relatively recently (within my lifetime) certain loving relationships were not allowed?

In this play I really wanted to explore the realities of two working-class friends who grew up in a time of deep misunderstanding, and the intolerance of the long-time love that they shared. I grew up in the same time that the play is set, and remember very well the taboos of the day; I was bewildered by the closed attitudes. Only a fine line separated what my characters felt for each other, and what was acceptable. What, really, is the difference after all?

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
I’ve been working at the Edinburgh Fringe for many years now, as a Costume Designer, Wardrobe person as well as a Producer and Writer, and there’s really nowhere else I’d rather be in August than with my ‘extended family’ of theatre people. I really rise to the diversity of audiences and responses in Edinburgh, and I find the mix of ages and tastes and genres very exhilarating. What is most interesting to me is the the feedback I get from all those who see my work. I love the magic of the place, the craic of the festival. I love to see other new work and feel the electricity of mass creativity; it's unique to the Fringe.

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

I want the audience to experience a new viewpoint, a different way of seeing the subject, that they might not otherwise have thought of. It's the point of the poetry I have written all my life, the same reason that I write anything, really. I always feel I am speaking to one strong personality, the audience is one person to me, one that I want to explain things to, ask the opinion of… to ask them to look at these things, see another point of view. Ask them to come with me into the subject, talk about what they have seen, be struck by this maybe clearer way of looking at these things. Ask them bigger questions than they may have asked themselves.

The Dramaturgy Questions

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?

My process is very simple, a stack of sharpened pencils and plenty of blank white paper to be filled. Then the first idea, and then… jump off. I write everything in this same way, longhand, with a pencil. I can't talk to a machine. My 74 years resist technology. I do have an iPad which I can just about work, but I can’t create on it, I can only copy into it.

Plays generally start with a single character and I follow him or her, to see who they are.

Then the story develops, takes shape in my mind, out of those early thoughts. It's the same process as the one I use for poetry. I never really know what will happen until it does. I've started a novel recently and I have no idea where it will take me, it's very exciting.

The collaboration happens only after I finish the script in its basic form and I send it to the Director I work with (Mark Leipacher). He has a great knack of interpreting my ideas and plays with the structure, making it as true and real as possible. I have a strong idea of what message I’m conveying, but I after it’s written I let it go, I trust in Mark’s understanding of my work.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
To me, the audience often feels like a mother, a loved aunt or a trusted friend I need to tell the story to. I want to make them understand something I have discovered, or reasoned out, something I need to share. Sometimes there are very subtle and delicate things to say, sometimes it's a shout.

In the same way that I let go and trust the Director and Performer(s) with the piece, I’m very keen to hear how my work lands with different members of the audience. People were often slow to clear after my last show (Of Sound Mind) for example, because it had sparked discussion and stirred deep emotions.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?

I'm asked often why I don't just spend the £20,000 that it can cost to bring a one woman show to Edinburgh on cruises and holidays: that isn’t what I would enjoy at all! My savings have been hard earned over the many years I've spent in theatre. I still want to be part of that creative world, creating drama. Making theatre is what I most enjoy doing.

Other old ladies might get pleasure from cruises and exotic holidays. Nothing wrong in that, good luck to them, but it’s not for me.

I admit that putting on a show in Edinburgh is very hard work and not for the feint-hearted, it's stressful, sweaty and quite tricky, one needs all the energy of youth really. I write the plays, produce them, design them, dress them; it takes a fair bit of time and dedication to bring a play to the Fringe. I find it exhausting but exhilarating, and very rewarding. It's also my passport to working with all that youthful energy that abounds in Edinburgh in August. Photographers, Stage Management, Actors, Press, Marketing. Mostly young, but all enthusiastic people. It's got to be more life-enhancing than cruising in the Med. That would definitely shorten my life.

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