Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dramaturgy You Might Know: Births, Deaths & Marriages @ Edfringe 2015

 The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

Rob Salmon:Births, Deaths & Marriages is the final part in a trilogy about growing up, so technically it’s inspired by the first and second productions. The first production, Party Piece, was about the end of childhood; the second production, Frequently Asked Questions, was a 10-step guide to adult life by teenagers, and this production is about the beginning of your adult life.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
We brought the first show in 2013, hoping to give the performers a positive experience, find an audience and build our profile, but we were lucky to walk away with 4 and 5 star reviews and we were shortlisted for 3 awards. So we’re coming back, although without the expectation/hope of doing the same as it’s a very different production – we can’t predict anything! Edinburgh is a key showcase, and making the kind of work we do, it’s essential that we’re there at the heart of it.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
We’ve been scratching the show around the country and the response has been really positive, doesn’t everyone say that? But it’s true – a really diverse range of people in our audiences have all responded that they felt everything we all want a piece of theatre to do to us – it made them laugh, it made them cry, and at the right times too. The production artistically uses audio description to tell the story – so it’s accessible for blind and partially sighted audiences, not just once or twice in a run, but every time.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work? 
The work is a collaboration between experienced professionals and young emerging theatre makers – working from the assumption that if we create accelerated professional structures for young people to ‘create’ their work, then we can harness their energy, unadulterated thinking, and passion in such a way that we engender great work, but more importantly great new artists. That kind of process is inherently rigorous, it has to be to do justice to everyone’s contribution – that necessitates dramaturgy, an environment of collaborative thinking, questioning, and answering.

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? 
One of the greatest joys in what we do is that our greatest influence is the unconstructed artist in front of us, but we’d love to be like the TEAM, with some Gecko thrown in and a bit of Doug Stanhope for good measure. That’s realistic, right?

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 start by asking questions about what we want to achieve around the theme we’re addressing – what’s important to us, what we’ve learnt, what excites us – then we ask ourselves what would stop us from achieving those aims. These become headlines spread around the room on flip-chart paper. Sometimes it’s complex and layered, sometimes we just end up with a massive sign that says ‘Don’t be wanky’ but that’s as useful as anything else! If not more! We go from there, everything is made collaboratively – it’s exhausting at times, but the cohesiveness can be seen in the work, and that’s one of the things we’re becoming known for.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Who is it for, what do they need etc… are questions we’re always asking ourselves, and because the work we’ve made so far has been directed at non-theatre users we’ve sometimes taken some criticism for it from a more theatrically literate audience. The content often crashes into itself without the delicacy or finesse you’d expect, but we’re trying to move on without resolution a lot of the time. If you don’t know, don’t care, or do appreciate the choice it’s very fulfilling, if not though it can be a bit marmite.

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

Q: How many dramaturg’s does it take to change a lightbulb...? A: Does it need to be a lightbulb?

The production uses projection, and elements of captioning and audio description within the script.

Directed by New Wolsey Associate Director Rob Salmon, the show has been gratefully supported by the local audiences and businesses of Ipswich and Suffolk who have helped fundraise and support their journey to the Fringe.

Cast - Tom Chamberlain, Gemma Raw, Sam Rhodes, Jack Tricker

Devised by - Tom Chamberlain, Gemma Raw, Sam Rhodes, Jack Tricker with Joseph Reed and Keisha Banya-Burrows.

Creative Team -

Director: Rob Salmon

Video Designer: Will Duke

Video Support: Joseph Valentine

Lighting Design: Justin Goad

The New Wolsey Theatre is a 400 seat regional theatre with a national reputation for the quality, range and reach of its work and for embracing cultural diversity in the widest sense. It is central to the creative life of Suffolk and seeks to expand the horizons of audiences and artists by presenting a programme designed to entertain, enrich and challenge.

Chief Executive: Sarah Holmes

Artistic Director: Peter Rowe 

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