Thursday, 9 July 2015

Happy Dramaturgy: John Osborne @ Edfringe 2015

The FringeWhat inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
John Osborne: It began with a love of performing live and wanting to create a show that allowed me to write some new material in a flexible and relaxed atmosphere. So it started with an idea and everything followed that.

Why bring your work to the Edinburgh Fringe?
The main reason I do it now is because I love the fringe. I love spending my Augusts in Edinburgh. From a professional point of view I owe a lot to Edinburgh. In 2011 I did a show called John Peel's Shed. People who came to see that show included the Head of Comedy at Radio 4, reviewers from broadsheet newspapers, representatives of venues across the UK including Soho Theatre. 

If you can create a show that has a buzz then the chances are that people will come and find you.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
I want people to walk away and be reminded of the small things that matter in life. I like work that in a tiny way makes people reevaluate their life. I don't see the point in creating work that doesn't convey big emotion and make people feel things. 

I think the role of the performer or artist is that whoever sees your work walks away from it having learnt or felt something. If you try too hard to do this it can be a disaster. It's about doing things in very small doses. Trying to make something stir inside people rather than blow their minds.

After sell-out shows in 2011 and 2012, Radio 4 regular John Osborne comes to Edinburgh with his first ever poetry show. Join him every day for poems that celebrate the everyday life. Kylie Minogue internet dating, his attempts to learn the constellations and wondering what happened to a boy from school who was called Michael Jackson. At 1.30 pm this is the perfect way to start your day of watching shows at the fringe.

His first solo show John Peel’s Shed was a complete sell out at the 2011 and 2012 Edinburgh fringes receiving five star reviews from The Scotsman and The Independent. It was later adapted for Radio 4, and since then John has written and performed five more half hour Radio 4 comedy specials, including The New Blur Album, The Kindness of Strangers and Valentine’s Day, starring Peep Show’s Isy Suttie. He wrote the sitcom After Hours with fellow writer Molly Naylor. Directed by Craig Cash and starring Jaime Winstone, Ardal O'Hanlon and John Thomson it will be broadcast on Sky 1 in the autumn.

Most people aren’t that happy, anyway is a 55 minute poetry show. John has been performing poetry since 2006 at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and Glastonbury. He has had poetry published in The Guardian, The Big Issue and The Spectator and has performed on BBC Radio 3, 6Music and Radio 1.

1.30 every afternoon in the prestigious Voodoo Rooms (French Quarter), 19a West Register Street, EH2 2AA. Part of the PBH Free Fringe.

John Osborne. Most people aren’t that happy, anyway.
13.30 PBH Free Fringe. 8th – 30th August (not 19th).
The Voodoo Rooms (French Quarter)

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I have only worked with a dramaturgist once - for my 2013 Edinburgh show On The Beach. I was slightly unsure what their role would be and what our relationship would be. I was worried that it would make my show more theatrical than I was capable of or that I would be out of my comfort zone. The reason that it was such a special relationship and worked so well is that we had a long conversation before we even went inside a theatre. 

We quickly formed a very honest and communicative relationship, and he made sure I was always completely comfortable with how the show was developing. 

We started to work out how to improve the script to make the show as good as possible, and little tiny movement tips to make me able to deliver the show as confidently and professionally as possible. At the start of the relationship I wondered why I needed a dramaturgist, by the end of the experience I realised I couldn't really have produced a show without one.

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?
My biggest influence is Alan Bennett. I want to tell stories in the same way that he tells stories. I watch a lot of theatre and poetry and storytelling but I don't really think anyone has ever influenced me in the same way that Alan Bennett has.

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?
I don't really have a particular process. I work on my own a lot and I spend most of my time writing to make sure the text is as strong as possible. 

This is mainly because I'm not a great performer and don't have much to offer theatrically so I need to make sure the words are as good as possible. I want this Edinburgh show to be very loose and relaxed and hopefully it will develop over the month and will be something I keep addressing on a day by day basis.

In 2002, John Osborne won a competition on John Peel’s Radio 1 show. His prize was a box of records that took eight years to listen to. This is an ode to radio, those records and anyone who’s ever sought solace in wireless. This show features a selection of records previously owned by the late John Peel. Many are very rare recordings by obscure and now defunct bands, and this is a unique opportunity for any Peel fans. A version of the show was recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre and broadcast on Radio 4 in December 2011, and chosen as Pick of the Day in The Radio Times.


‘A lovely, engaging writer finding the joyous in the everyday’ – Stuart Maconie

‘His work has a winning gentleness, a seductive voice that draws you in, ensnares you and captivates you’ - Ian McMillan

‘His work sits somewhere between Daniel Kitson and Tom Wrigglesorth. I could have listened for hours’ – The Independent (about John Peel's Shed).

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