Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Laughing Dramaturgy: Keir McAllister and Jay Lafferty @ Edfringe

Creative Consultancy presents The Last Laugh by Keir McAllister

Never Date a Comedian
A new play written by and starring award winning playwright Keir McAllister directed by his wife Jay Lafferty and Garry Dobson. Following, two years of successful Edinburgh Fringe runs at the Assembly Room George Street - McAllister is back with a new play which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. The Last Laugh tackles the subject of two stand up’s in a relationship - written by a comedian husband, directed by his comedian wife.

The Last Laugh mixes stand-up, theatre and storytelling in a tale about two people discovering whether being funny is as important as being happy. Join Eddie Butler the next big thing in comedy - well he used to be before he met new kid on the block Grace (played by up and coming stand up Larah Bross). Grace knows you should never date a comedian, comics are generally considered worse lifestyle choices than Scientology...and for good reason. Will Grace follow the advice? Will Eddie finally decide whether being funny is as important as being happy?

McAllister said “This is the most ambitious project I’ve attempted so far in terms of both the writing and the performance but the Edinburgh Fringe is about taking creative risks. The team involved are all exceptional and I am excited to see what the audience reaction will be.”

Lafferty said “It has been creatively challenging to direct my husband in his own play - lets say there have been a few fireworks! The rewards have outweighed the challenges though and I feel proud to be involved with such a darkly funny play - are there aspects of our own relationship? Well that would be telling.....”

★★★★ 'I really was in awe; possibly the most literary show written by a comedian I can think of ... Scotland’s got a McMoliere in McAllister...' (Praise for A Split Decision, 2014

Listing Information Venue: The Assembly Rooms 54 George Street, Edinburgh Dates: 6th-30th August (not 17th) Time: 1.30pm Ticket  

The Fringe 

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
For me it always begins with a question. Is it more important to be funny than to be happy? For some people I think it definitely is - in the comedy industry funny can be far more valuable currency than happy to the extent that comics will psychologically self harm. The play is not at an an attempt to answer that question but it certainly came from it.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
I live in Edinburgh so I feel compelled to show something here. I couldn't imagine wandering around the Festival and not being part of it. Because my wife is a performer too, the Fringe more or less defines our year. This will be my eleventh Fringe and I still feel as passionately and excited about it.

There are aspects of it that deeply concern me though, such as the prohibitive nature of the costs to artists and the ludicrous amounts of money that are being sucked away by corporate entities. 
A well known comic friend of mine recently told me he had been offered a 150 seater venue at the Fringe and if he sold out every seat over the entire run, he would still owe £2000. That's before he has paid for accommodation, additional PR etc. How can that possibly be? I’ve always been fortunate enough to have been accepted into The Stand or The Assembly Rooms who underwrite shows and make it feasible for artists to produce new work. That’s part of the reason I feel so compelled to do something new and am able to take creative risks.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They will see a modern day shaggy dog story with a satirical eye on the comedy industry and the people who make it. I also think it’s quite funny - but that pudding has yet to proofed. As to what they feel - I want them to feel entertained. That we were worth the price of the ticket. Going to see something at the Fringe is always a risk and I want to really deliver on a great piece of Fringe Theatre.

What they think or feel about the substance of the play is for the audience to decide. I’m not sure what I think or feel about aspects of it. As long as it engages audiences, I’ll be more than happy.

The Dramaturgy Questions

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?
The process changes with the project. For the plays I have written, it has always been based around a question I wanted to explore. Something thats been niggling at me. There’s a lot of thinking time and jotting of indecipherable notes that can go on for months or even years before I even think of it as an actual thing.

Before I put pen to paper it’s almost fully formed. I write very
quickly and continuously. All of my first draughts have been done within a couple of weeks then I put it away and I send it to a few people I trust. In about another fortnight to a month - I’ll come back to it and read it again and then I will read the criticism of my proof readers. 

The second draught takes a lot longer and I hate it. By the time I’ve done the fourth draught - I usually want to burn the whole project. By the time the play is performed I usually like it again.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Because I’m a stand-up I’m incredibly conscious of the audience. They are my muse and I’m trying desperately (pathetically) trying to impress them. They will ultimately decide whether I like this piece of work or not. I find it difficult to even sell this piece of work right now because I won’t form a proper opinion until I see how an audience reacts to it.

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