Saturday, 25 July 2015

Hemmed In Drammaturgy: Naomi Stirrat @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Naomi Stirrat: This production was born out of a uni project. We ended up forming a company of six females, Lost Lock Productions, and tried desperately to find a published play that represented us well, but it was impossible. This frustrated us, so in a bid to create some strong roles for young ladies, we got the idea for a new Scottish musical, based on stories we’d read about women leaving prison.

Where does your piece at the fringe fit with your usual work?
I have no musical theatre training, which makes me feel like a fraud, haha. We've just finished the Acting for Stage and Screen degree at Edinburgh Napier and Queen Margaret Universities, with most of what we’ve performed being straight up plays. 

I think Hemmed In works well with our group because it’s not all dancey wancey and pretty like most musicals. It’s a bit more edgy. Well, our Scottish accents certainly give it a rougher, less cheesy musical feel. Personally, I love doing children’s theatre, but we have an over 14s only rule for this show.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hemmed In shows the characters struggling through a fashion rehabilitation parole programme, which doesn’t exist in reality, but we think it should. We want our audience to see that these prisoners change when they start to see themselves differently, and perhaps this is the key for helping those marginalised by society.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Dramaturgy makes sense of Hemmed In, pulling in all the relevant context and understanding of the surroundings of our story. We’ve not had someone specific filling the role of dramaturge, rather a group of collaborators overseeing the shaping of 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?
We have been hugely influenced by Stellar Quines, a company that have paved the way for female creators and performers in Scotland. Their published research into women in theatre made us want to create Lost Lock Productions. We want to be like them in 20 years. We are also shamelessly in love with Cora Bisset, after seeing Glasgow Girls, which our desire to do a musical came from.

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?
Yes! We had our initial idea, and then invited a writer called Ruth Cobbin to collaborate with us. She is wonderful and we’ve enjoyed working closely with her, throwing ridiculous ideas back and forth for the story. 

Ruth then teamed up with our fabulous Musical Director, Shonagh Murray, to write music. We did a preview in April at uni, which gave us an idea of how to refine the piece for the Fringe. We’re currently in rehearsals and have loved having Donna Soto-Morettini (probably the smartest lady on the planet) as our director. She is a musical powerhouse with amazing attention to detail and so much sass, landing her at the top of the list of artists who have inspired us as a company.

What do you feel the role of the critic is? 
I think the critic has a responsibility to give a balanced report on a performance, not necessarily based on their taste, but on whether or not the audience attending will find the experience worthwhile. With our show, that means considering the space, storyline, performers, tech, design, atmosphere and entertainment. I guess the things a critic has to respond to differs from show to show. They hold the power to plant seeds of curiosity, or put people off completely.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
No. If I was doing an intense political drama, I’d want you to ask more about dramaturgy in terms of understanding the political climate… or if I was doing a comedy improve show, it might be more about how dramaturgy works when there isn’t always a specific structure in the show. If you leave the question vague, we can customise it to suit our own show.

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