Friday, 10 July 2015

Lance's Dramaturgy: Peter Michael Marino @ Edfringe 2015

Peter Michael Marino is a writer, actor, director and teacher.

He received the 2010 and 2011 Backstage Reader’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Teacher for his acclaimed “Flying Solo” classes at The PIT. He also received the Back Stage Bistro Award for his cabaret spoof, Lance Jonathan: More About Me! 

He is the co-writer of the lesbian pulp homage Hollywood Nurses. He has directed and developed shows with Delilah Dix (Edinburgh Fringe, Ars Nova, Laurie Beechman Theatre), Mark Giordano’s Mad Man (The PIT), Sheila Head’s Head Games (IO West, Ars Nova), and Alicia Levy’s Chickapalooza (The PIT, Ars Nova). As a performer, he appeared in STOMP for five years off-Broadway and on tour, as well as in numerous regional productions and workshops.

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

Dramaturgy has so many definitions, depending on the genre. For a show like this, it’s about making sure the through line, story, wants and intentions are clear. I think it’s important for any show, whether it is a solo show, a play or even standup, for there to be defined beginning, middle and end. It’s just standard storytelling rules. What does the character want? What is getting in their way? How to they get what they want despite the obstacles?

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?

For Late with Lance!, chat shows were a big influence (Graham Norton, Johnny Carson, and especially Dick Cavett). Solo shows are also a huge influence since I’m spoofing the genre in many ways. But there are also a fair of well-known musical theatre references in the show. The basic format of a musical and why characters sing when their emotions are so high that they can’t express themselves in mere words is definitely an influence. I’m always influenced by storytellers, and I aim to make sure that the elements of good storytelling are in my own work and the shows I direct.

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 think collaboration is VITAL. It’s what theatre is all about. I always work with a director on my shows. However, with Lance, I decided to work with a number of different artists from multiple genres: choreography, clowning, improv and music. I utilized their influences and feedback to develop the piece. Looking back on the development of the show, I could have saved some time and creative energy if I had one director at the helm. 

But, I made a conscious decision at the beginning to throw things at the wall and see what stuck by doing bits from the show in other people’s shows and inviting small audiences to workshops of the show. I asked for feedback and I got it and ran with most of it. I also brought the show to the Orlando Fringe and Hollywood Fringe festivals in the past few months, and honestly, it was the reviews that told me what areas of the show needed examination and improvement. 

While the reviews were good across the board, I did pick up on small criticisms that made me go back and rewrite parts of the show. And I’m glad I took that risk. I hope by the time I get to Edinburgh, the show is in tip-top shape; though I am sure it will continue to develop there as well.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The audience is everything! If you’re truly connecting with the audience (and why wouldn’t you?) you can pick up on what’s working and what’s not. It’s trial and error, really. 
You must keep doing it for an audience to learn about the show and if what you are trying to say with the show is landing. Are they feeling something? Are you taking them on a ride? Are they satisfied at the end? Again, if you are connecting and aware (and not too self-aware) these answers will be clear. And if not…get a director/dramaturg.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
I think you hit the nail on the head because my head is hurting just a little bit right now. And I mean that in the best possible way. On to rewrites!

1 comment :

  1. THANKS SO MUCH, GARETH! Hope you can check out the show! PMM