Saturday, 4 July 2015

Feeding on Dramaturgy: Clout @ Edfringe 2015

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

We began with a simple idea. Make a show about food. The show is called FEAST.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
In simple terms because it is the main launchpad for our kind of theatre. It is where opportunities and audiences are congregated to see some weird shit. It also functions as a kind of AGM for theatre practitioners as well as a chance to see other people's work, steal ideas, or get pissed off, both of which have their utility.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?See- Three dirty human bodies - Dancing with raw steaks - Live feed video of foodstuffs in compromising positions…

Three highly different styles Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner… what starts as almost a Butoh show ends up as something that resembles a Cronenberg film, via a carnivalesque passage of baroque indulgence. As for feel and think- this is unstable territory, as we are entering the quagmire of subjective individual experience. We can tell you why we want them to feel - hungry, disgusted, delighted, disgusted again, horny… 

Our work aims to go through the visceral (sometimes literally with offal in the offing) and if it ends up in the intellect, all the better. It is a show that is actually highly political in nature, because when talking about food you can't avoid it. It speaks of consumerism, our culpability in the planet's destruction. The dislocated relationship with nature that technology can induce… but as we work through abstraction people will read this in multiple ways, and that is the exciting part.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Like many words of a German extraction, dramaturgy ain't pretty - but it is useful. When I hear the word I feel like I am in a hospital bed waiting for surgery, there is something very clinical an slightly threatening about it. 

I suppose it is about order to some degree… with this show we began with a clear composition and then slotted the play and improvisation in, but previously we have played and improvised and then composed after, with our director Mine Cerci acting as a kind of crazed conducted shaking her baton at us while we scamper about trying to sew together a patchwork of ideas. 

This time however has been somewhat more measured, to some degree more like a writing process, but still with plenty of mess.

-- or did you mean Liturgy? we're not religious… Zymurgy? not into brewing - or endososcopy? (actual plays an important dramaturgical role within the piece)

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?
Well obviously we all trained at Lecoq so that feeds into our work, and we would broadly define ourselves as 'physical theatre' even if that may be a vague and troublesome term. Theatre practitioners who influence our work include Tadeusz Kantor with his Theatre of Death, and Romeo Castellucci with his uncompromising and violent fusion of visual art and theatre.

In general though, we tend to talk about other art forms more- mostly film. Peter Greenaway is a big favourite and his films The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Drowning by Numbers influenced the piece with their lavish baroque. Also Jan Svankmajer with his short film Food which we even stole the triptych format for the piece Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Svankmajer is obsessed with the sensory world and his films take you past the intellect and into a deeply sensory, carnal and unconscious world. As with Svankmajer I would say that we see ourselves to an extent as continuation of surrealism, but without a capital S, and it's important to not get too hooked up on traditions.

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 work quite slowly. We start with an idea, discuss it, change it, and discuss some more. Then we get in a rehearsal room, try some stuff out, decide we didn't want to do that and change our idea. This time, as well as the usual team of three actors and a director, we have collaborated with a designer - Naomi Kuyck-Cohen - who is brilliant because she gets involved in the creation too. This would be terrible though, if she didn't have excellent taste and a great eye. She likes grotesque, nasty stuff like us. That helps.

We also work with our director by Skype… I guess that's kind of strange. She is Turkish and has been refused her visa several times to come to the UK. This makes for somewhat fragmented rehearsals, and has perhaps fed in to the last chapter of FEAST.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Art is oblique… through a glass darkly.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Best thing… come see the show!

VENUE: ZOO Sanctuary

DATES: 7th-31st AUGUST (not 21)

TIME: 15.55 (1 Hour)


Drawing on research and influences that vary from Czech animator Jan Svankmajer to 'feeder porn', the films of Peter Greenaway to Turkish communist hunger strikes and the holocaust, this is Clout's most extreme and without setting out to be so, political piece, taking an abstract yet cutting knife to modern barbarism and our dislocated relationship with food. This show also sees the first collaboration with designer and co-deviser Naomi Kuyck-Cohen, who brings her off kilter aesthetic and mutual taste for grotesquery to the piece (“I'm looking forward to the time when the theatre is populated by her designs” - Susannah Clapp, The Observer).
Director Mine Cerci said: “This is a show that indulges in needless excess. That is what humans do. We are interested in how we build our own prison, whether that is environmental destruction through over farming, health obsession or obesity. Through our work we push reality to its grotesque physical extreme. In the case of food wastage and human perversion, these are already so extreme in life that we have had to push far to distort the mirror.”
Clout Theatre returns to the Edinburgh Festival following two critically acclaimed, Total Theatre Award nominated shows The Various Lives of Infinite Nullity(2013) and How a Man Crumbled (2012). The company live and work in London and Istanbul, and with members from Scotland, Russia, France and Turkey, they make bold theatre for an international audience. Their shows blend absurdist humour, violence, mess, and visual poetry, and deal with the sublime and ridiculous in equal measure.
Their work is informed by their training at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq and their mixed backgrounds varying from professional figure skating to the political sciences, Russian naturalistic acting to butoh.
Director Mine Cerci lives and works in Istanbul, she has an academic background having gained a Masters in Theatre Studies at La Sorbonne recently translated Jacques Lecoq's Le Crops Poetique into Turkish for the first time. 

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