Friday, 10 July 2015

Elizabethan Dramaturgy: Rebecca Vaughan @ Edfringe 2015

Assembly @ George Square (Venue: Roxy Upstairs)
11:45 - 13:00, Aug 7 – Aug 31 (except Aug 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25)
Assembly Box Office: 0131 623 3030
Written and Performed by REBECCA VAUGHAN

 1568: At a vital crossroads in history a young queen steps from the shadows to confess her thoughts on marriage, succession, religion and war – but time is against her...
Elizabeth I: Queen at 25, political phoenix and famously unmarried, she was the most educated woman of her Age – but who was the woman beneath the crown? Using only Elizabeth’s own words – adapted from letters, speeches and writings – this critically-acclaimed production illuminates a moment of decision in the young monarch’s reign. Its political parallels still acutely relevant, I, Elizabeth explores the tension between desire and duty to reveal the woman beneath the crown.

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Rebecca Vaughan: I found a book entitled Elizabeth I: Collected Works  which although not a full collected works, was a collection of Elizabeth's letters, speeches, prayers and poetry, and offered an insight into other aspects of Elizabeth that I hadn't previously had.  I'd always found her a fascinating character, but this book prompted me to research further and I made a decision to create a piece that was created entirely and solely out of Elizabeth's own words.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The Edinburgh Fringe is a great way to get a show really up and running, and into good shape.  The month long run gives us a
chance to iron out any issues within a production and really 'bed in' where the production is going.  In addition, the Fringe is essentially a trade fair - where venue managers from all over the world come to look for work, and it's a wonderfully democratic platform of getting work seen by those within the industry who programme work into regional and international venues.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
As I, Elizabeth is created only from Elizabeth's words, it is in Elizabethan English - and so although not in Iambic Pentameter, can feel like watching a Shakespeare play.  They can expect to hear Elizabeth speaking about her deepest worries and fears, about all the personal and political issues surrounding her at that time.  

They might be torn between really liking Elizabeth and really disliking her, and to also perhaps understand how difficult it was to be a female Monarch within the Tudor period (and indeed history as a whole).  To feel that they are really getting as close as possible to who the real Elizabeth was, warts and all.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
With our more recent works (such as Dalloway at last year's festival) - dramaturgy is playing an ever increasing role.  With both myself and Elton Townend Jones at Dyad's helm - we are very interested in seeing the ways in which a script can be (and often needs to be) changed and adapted to make it work better on stage.  

With I, Elizabeth (our second piece of work, created in 2010), we were working with a team perhaps less focused on dramaturgy.  

However, bringing this piece back to the fringe has made us look at the production more closely in this light, and has made us tweak and update a few elements to bring it more in line with the standard of work we are now producing after five years of solid experience. 

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?
We are interested in Modernism and Magic Realism, and to a certain extent, Absurdism.  These interests have organically come to light over the last six years, and thus with our more recent work, have become more of a manifesto.

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?
Each project is very different - and so the process of creating each has it's own individual process.  However, we do usually start with an idea which is turned into a script, which is then tweaked and changed in the rehearsal process.  We collaborate with sound designers and lighting designers who influence the whole shape of the piece.  Especially with a solo show - soundscape and lighting plot can be crucial to the storytelling aspects of the piece.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
Certainly within the context of a solo show, the audience is a vital part of the performance.  There is no fourth wall, and as such, the audience themselves are integral to the production, reacting to and against the performer and allowing the show to breathe and grow.

This much-loved Edinburgh 2010 hit comes from Dyad Productions which creates, produces and tours classic theatre with a contemporary emphasis.  Other works,Austen’s WomenThe Diaries of Adam and EveFemale GothicThe Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe and Dalloway garnered five-star reviews at Edinburgh 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively.  All six plays continue to tour across the UK and internationally, while Austen’s Women returned to Edinburgh in 2013 for another highly acclaimed five-star run

I, Elizabeth is written and performed by Rebecca Vaughan (writer/performer: Austen’s Women, Female Gothicperformer: Dalloway, The Diaries of Adam and Eve), and directed by Guy Masterson (Olivier Award-winning Morecambe).  Costume is by Kate Flanaghan (Dalloway, Female Gothic, Austen’s WomenBollywood Steps) and sound design is by Waen Shepherd (Murder In Successville, Crackanory, Female Gothic).  It is produced by Elton Townend Jones (DallowayThe Unremarkable Death of Marilyn MonroeAusten’s Women).

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