Friday, 10 July 2015

Furious Dramaturgy: KILN @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
It started with a broken heart. In our mid twenties we were at that stage when we were ending our first most significant relationships. There was a turbulent break-up and lots of feelings of anger and betrayal and one of the Company wanted to use this energy to create a new production drawing on her musical abilities and our native city of Birmingham’s industrial inheritance of Heavy Metal.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?Well, it’s a huge and ruthless marketplace to show work to promoters, on the one hand. On the other, it’s a brilliant opportunity to see the work of wonderful and talented practitioners from across the globe. It presents a massive cross-section of different work all housed in one city and all vying for the attention of audiences. 

We’re returning to Summerhall this year from Monday 24th – Friday 28th August, 11.55pm. This year we’re presenting THE FURIES in association with Birmingham REP and as part of British Council Showcase, so it’s an opportunity to show our wares to international promoters and to invite along audience and industry folk who are yet seen the show. 

We’re returning to Summerhall this year from Monday 24th – Friday 28th August, 11.55pm. This year we’re presenting THE FURIES in association with Birmingham REP and as part of British Council Showcase, so it’s an opportunity to show our wares to international promoters and to invite along audience and industry folk who are yet seen the show. 

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They can expect a gig of sorts, an hour long ‘wildly unreserved’ piece of music-theatre that ‘sends you reeling into the night more than a little dazed’ so the Guardian say, or you might see it as ‘screeching, over-sexed, hysterical stereotypes writhing across the stage’ as Time Out reviewed it. 

It’s dark, has a queasy Glam Rock/ Heavy Metal aesthetic and the three female front women of the band wear very little. It’s a fractured re-imagining of the Greek myth of Clytemnestra told by her three justice-seeking Furies. It goes like this… Clytemnestra is savagely betrayed by her warrior husband Agamemnon and she eventual kills him in an act of bloody revenge. 

We set it up as a part gig, part operetta told through a series of songs including the opening dirge of “I Am So Furious” leading to the covetous “Oh Married Man” and following with rhetorical anthem “Are You Angry Yet?!”. We’ve plundered our native city of Birmingham’s sound Heavy Metal as well as other musical styles from Pop, Opera, Soul and Glam Rock. Audience stand for the duration so they are free to move around if they want to and the performer-singers glide and shove in and around and above them (on raised decking). It’s best enjoyed if you bring a drink with you from the bar. Have a look at our teaser designed to tease ya: 

THE FURIES from Mathew Beckett on Vimeo.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of

dramaturgy within your work?
All our work is created in a different way because it depends on what we’re trying to communicate and which one of us is leading the project. We try to match the way we make it with what we want to say about the theme or topic. For THE FURIES it started out with the furious feelings of betrayal by someone you thought you loved and who loved you. It’s a pretty universal feeling: Love and heartbreak. As such, THE FURIES has that kind of raw, unapologetic energy and hot, fragmented structure that reflects the way you experience a breakup - the points of most potent emotion. 

We looked to Greek mythology for a known story structure because these ancient stories are epic and elemental. We wanted there to be something solid onto which we could hang our feelings of heartbreak and that would take it from the personal to make it more epic and universal. The structure of graphic novels and comic books came up during devising. We devise our performances through improvisation and later pick out the bits we think usefully communicate what we want to say. We thought about the structure in terms of pictures and songs that would helpfully tell the parts of the story we wanted to tell. It’s the emotional content of these songs and the sound of them that convey story and meaning.

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, lots, we’re forever influenced by other artists and tempted by things around us. Musically we’re influenced by different styles from twangy folk to the clanging grind of Heavy Metal. Horror movies, graphic novels and cinematic influences play a part in this production.

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’re a very collaborative company. There are two brilliant and talented musicians who bring their multi-instrumental skills to THE FURIES, thrashing the crap out of guitars and pounding away on drums. In other projects we like to work with people who would not necessarily work in theatre. 

We like working with scientists for example - but that’s a different
show. We always start with a theme or thing that is personal, an obsession about something that we want to learn more about and that has particular relevance to what is going on in the world. We aim to communicate what we think about that topic to a wider audience through a particular experiential form, like a gig as in THE FURIES. Hopefully our shows will catalyse discussion or debate on that subject even if that debate is to do with the form we have chosen to contain the themes of the show. 

Once we have that theme we research around it and excavate and get into the muck of it to work out what we want to say and how we want to say it. It can be quite a sweaty process. We might explore a theme through musical and vocal improvisations for example and then pick out the bits that communicate, and refine these and then continue to refine, chiseling away at it until were happy with the shape. 

We work with an outside eye or director who keeps an eye on how the audience experience it, feeding back what they see and ask us if that is what we are wanting to say. We’ll work with designers (light and sound) to help us further refine the work. So Ben Pacey did the lighting design for THE FURIES and his design is also vital in telling the story because the light and darkness reveal and conceal the characters and the space to direct the audiences’ attention.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
We present a show and we know what we think it means, and we are asking the audience to make up their mind about what they think it means and how it make them feel. Maybe they will enjoy it in the hour that they experience it and then go home and not think about it ever again, or maybe they will think ‘yes, I can related to that, it captures exactly how I feel or have felt’, or maybe they will think that is a pile of shit and it’s made them really cross because they struggled to decipher it. 

I’m most interested in the last one. We’re not trying to deliberately beguile but I think, particularly with devised work, we have to be mindful about the choices we make when we’re structuring our work to create meaning so the audience have an understanding of how to read it. THE FURIES is not a play. It’s not truly a gig either. It’s fractured and it’s best experienced as a kind of song cycle. It’s the sound of the music, as well as the lyrics of those songs that convey meaning. So I think the audience will find meaning through how they responds to the sound of the music and the atmosphere in which it happens.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?No, but oh look… YOU CAN BUY TICKETS FOR THE FURIES
And you can read more about THE FURIES.

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