Thursday, 30 July 2015

Madness of Dramaturgy:

Greenside @ Nicholson Square: 7 - 22 August (not 9,16,17) 1:45pm (60mins)

When a young Hollywood actress struggles to connect with Shakespeare’s Ophelia she desperately turns to method acting, but soon the boundaries between the theatre and her own reality become blurred. Amongst the bombs and sirens of blitz-struck London her stunning portrayal quickly becomes the performance of her life.

Method in Madness explores the pressure upon all actresses who tackle one of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic female characters and also presents the dangers of taking method acting too far. The play also highlights the rarely-hailed defiance of British theatre against the efforts by Nazi bombers to demoralise and divide a nation. Method in Madness fuses both Shakespearean text and new writing with physical theatre and elements of dance, all soundtracked by the haunting music of singer-songwriter Laura Marling.

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Method in Madness came from a fascination with Shakespeare's Ophelia. A more detailed look into the love interest of Hamlet, whose story doesn't receive the limelight it deserves in Shakespeare's play. Although Ophelia's story of losing her love, losing her father and finally losing her mind echoes that of Hamlet's, her story is bitty and full of holes. This started our obsession with the character of Ophelia and how she is portrayed, especially of her descent into madness. In 'Hamlet' in one scene she is fine and then in the next she is singing songs and collecting flowers seemingly to have lost her mind in the wings.

The theatrical nature and legacy of Shakespeare's plays and how they are performed brought us to setting the performance in a theatre. Following this with research into portrayals of Shakespeare's iconic roles, we stumbled across an anecdote of Daniel Day-Lewis. Whilst playing Hamlet, Daniel Day-Lewis, saw the ghost of his father parading in the wings and the show had to be cancelled due to the actor's troubled state. This brought us to the dangers of method acting and how a young actress could lose herself in the beautiful but tragic role of Ophelia and hence the start of Method in Madness. Therefore through Shakespeare's Hamlet and real life experiences the show was sparked into life.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a fantastic festival for new work to be seen, and as an emerging theatre company it provides the exposure we need for our new pieces of work. In addition to this the audiences of the festival are willing to give new work a go and experience a show that may be a little different. Therefore with our new takes on Shakespeare classics portrayed through a new and exciting blend of dance language, new writing as well as that of the bard's, we couldn't imagine a more perfect festival and audience for our work.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The unique quality of Method in Madness that resulted in the show being awarded Best of Fest (IYAF 2014), is how Method in Madness fuses Shakespearean text and new writing with physical theatre and elements of dance. Whilst being sound-tracked by the haunting music of singer/songwriter Laura Marling.

Entita Theatre is an emerging theatre company who are striving to create their own brand of physical re-imaginings of Shakespeare's classic texts. 

Method in Madness takes Ophelia's life and story and shows her deterioration into madness in a way unlike any other show, through a play-in-a-play, we see an actress falling down her path surrounded by the men whose stories put her there. This approach to a classic and unique choreography makes audiences think on Shakespeare's iconic character and the actresses who play her in a whole new light. The experience of our shows are all encompassing, from the haunting soundtrack to the choreography that comes more from the soul than from a cold rehearsal room. The audience can expect to be swept up in the whirlwind of Blitz stricken London and each struggle of the onstage actors.

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?
Entita Theatre work collaboratively devising as an ensemble lead by Director Jamie Woods and Movement Director Katharine Hardman. The start point and inspiration to all our pieces and movement sequences originate from the original Shakespearean text. Allowing the poetry of the words to become that of movement in the body. Our rehearsals look at Shakespeare how it is meant to be explored - on its feet and how his characters resonate in our lives today.

The script for Method in Madness was written by Alex Doble and Katie Dunstan and then devised by Entita Theatre. The initial idea came from Entita's Artistic Directors and then was handed over to the creative minds of the writers, who took the idea and developed it into the piece of work it is today.

Doble and Dunstan worked alongside Entita's Artistic Directors to edit the script, as well as attending rehearsals to see the script up on its feet and where improvements could be made. They also worked closely with Hardman on translating words into movement, with some pages of dialogue being replaced entirely with choreography. Entita's writers work side by side with the creative team and cast, adding two more members to the Entita ensemble.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The narrative of our script is quite clear and concise, it is however in the movement sequences that we allow the audience to draw meaning. Whilst a picture is worth a thousand words a sequence of stage pictures can speak volumes. I daren't say too much more as it is in these moments of movement and expression that we truly enjoy hearing what an audience has picked up and taken away from the show. 

Entita Theatre are the current Graduate Theatre Company in Residence at the University of Kent, run by Co-Artistic Directors Jamie Woods and Katharine Hardman. 

The company specialise in producing ambitious, physical re-workings of Shakespeare plays. They were awarded Best of Fest at the International Youth Arts Festival 2014 for Method in Madness, which was also shortlisted for the National Student Drama Festival 2015. 

Entita are presenting both Method in Madness and their new production Fall at both IYAF and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015.

 Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Fringe Venue 209) Sub-venue: Emerald Theatre. 7 - 22 August (not 9,16,17) 1.45 pm (60 mins). Tickets: £6 previews 7 – 8 August. Otherwise £7.50 (conc. £2 off).

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