Thursday, 2 July 2015

Friendly Dramaturgy: James Fritz @ Edfringe 2015

Ross & Rachel - A dark and uncompromising new play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the mind-bending, heart-breaking story of what happens when a couple that was always meant to be together, gets together. And stays together. In this disquieting duologue for one performer, Olivier-nominated playwright James Fritz takes an unflinching look at the myths of modern love. Assembly George Square Theatre (The Box) from 6th August at 12.30pm.

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

An idea. Something vague about love and fairytales and two people being played by one person.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Because of the variety of audience and the willingness of people to take a chance on something new.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
It will hopefully feel a mixture of disorientating, nostalgic, heartbreaking, aggressive and funny depending on who you are, how your morning is going and how much of a hangover you're coming in with.

The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?

It's integral. Dramaturgical input shapes everything I do at every stage. At the end of the day, I want to turn my ideas into the best possible blueprint for performance, and I think it's impossible (for me, at least) to do that alone. With Ross & Rachel the director Thomas Martin, and the producer Andrew Hughes served as dramaturgs from day one. They did as much to shape the initial idea into what we have now as I did, which means it feels like as much their play as it is mine and that's how it should be.

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?
I love writers that give up a lot to the room. People like Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane. The text is strong enough to withstand all kinds of intervention, there's no prescribed way of doing it. Love and Information, Attempts on Her Life, 4:48 Psychosis: they all encourage people to make their own bold choices. No two performances of anything can ever be the same, so why not embrace that and use it to your advantage?

I also love writers that tread that line between 'plays' and 'performance'. Tim Crouch, Young Jean Lee, Daniel Kitson, Chris Goode - their work is always incredibly written and yet so alive to the presence of the audience. I don't know if I see myself within a certain tradition, but I'm trying and learn/steal as much as possible from the people I've mentioned.

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?
So far it's really depended on each individual project. I'm still at the start of my career and I'm still learning new ways to work with every production. With Ross & Rachel I took an idea to some collaborators and as a team we worked with some amazing performers to craft a text we wanted to take forward and make something with. Other times the play has come into the room a bit more fully formed and we've taken that as a platform to build on.

No matter what I'm writing I'll rewrite it over and over until what I'm trying to write becomes clearer. Often I've thrown out whole drafts and started again. I'll try and get as much feedback as I can from people I trust along the way, as I find it next to impossible to work out what something is (and what's wrong with it) while I'm writing it. After that, if possible, I'll get it in the room with some actors and hear it out loud and hear their thoughts on the play. So yeah, collaboration along the way is key.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? I don't really think a performance means anything to anyone other than the people who are performing it and, particularly, the people that are watching it at that very moment. It doesn't matter what I think the meaning is: whatever they take away from it is what counts.
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
How would I define dramaturgy? Do I think the role of a separate dramaturg should be more widely used in British theatre? 

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