Thursday, 23 July 2015

O No, It's Dramaturgy: Jamie Wood @ Edfringe 2015

After a Total Theatre nomination, winning From Edinburgh with Love and a hugely successful month of performing Beating McEnroe at Summerhall as part of Edinburgh 2013, Beating McEnroe then won Best Show at BE Festival 2014 as voted by the audience. Jamie is now touring the show, whilst developing his new show, O No! which premiered at Physical Fest in May and will be at EdFringe this Summer.

About O No!

Jamie Wood returns to the Fringe with a new show, employing his signature blend of anarchic comedy, fandom and emotional terrorism. A psychedelic ride, and wonky homage to the woman damned for destroying The Beatles, O No! borrows Yoko Ono’s art instructions to ask whether falling in love is always catastrophic. This is a show about reckless optimism, avant-garde art and what we might learn from the hippies.




Jamie Wood - O No! can be seen at Assembly Roxy (Downstairs) from the 5th-31st August (excl. 17th & 24th).

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I began by remembering the day John Lennon got shot in 1980 and then being curious about what a creative and deeply affecting year it had been for me. 



My previous show, Beating McEnroe, was seen from a perspective of a six year old watching the 1980 Wimbledon final. Around the same time as noticing these strong memories I went to an exhibition of Yoko Ono's, I loved how funny she was, but also how how many comments I heard from people 'not getting it'. I started to think about humour and art, and I started to read about John and Yoko and watched some documentaries on the hippy movement.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
For me it is a chance to introduce my work to, potentially, a lot of very different people in a very condensed amount of time. It's much more of a mixing pot of different genres than my work will normally meet if I'm touring it, and people are often braver and want to taste something different. 


I think if you make quite odd work and nobody has heard of you then Edinburgh can act like a stamp of approval for both audiences and programmers, which stands you in good stead for touring the work after.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Feedback so far from audiences has been fantastic, people feel exhilarated by the experience of watching the show, challenged outside their comfort zones, moved by the question of love itself and the inevitability of losing the people we love. People are excited by where the show takes them all together on their communal journey. After one show I came out to see 7 audience members all just holding each other in a prolonged group hug. There's also a lot of laughing and stupidity and then surprising moments of visual beauty. I've no idea what people think.

 


Jamie Wood - O No! Trailer from Luke Emery on Vimeo.



The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
It's incredibly important because my shows normally consist of different forms and theatrical languages spliced together and placed next to one another. I'm lucky to work with the best dramaturg I know, Wendy Hubbard. She would describe her job as making a sense for an audience. She looks at the material I create and then tries to unravel it, to sculpt it, to imagine how an audience will read and receive it. We will try it in different orders looking for the threads and the glue, seeing if there are frames that are missing.

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?
I call my shows Clown shows because they are about accepting wholeheartedly who I am and what I care about and inviting the audience to laugh at that. Clown covers an enormous spectrum of stuff though. I'm definitely inspired by Buster Keaton and Jaques Tati, Jan Svankmajer and Roy Anderson, Jean Miro and Jean Tinguely, Picabia, Akhe, Pina Bausch, Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Yoko Ono and Dr. Brown and Daniel Kitson. 


I don't see myself within any tradition apart from one of making and trying and being interested in communicating, following your nose and creating art out of yourself and your tiny perspective on the world and the stuff that surrounds you and the stuff that inspires you and makes you wonder about.

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 my process is different with each performance. The first question is always do I care enough about this to make it? I'll sometimes tell other people ideas to see if I like the sound of them when they leave my mouth. With this show the first thing I did was I sat with lots of documentaries and books and started jotting down things I liked or things that moved me somehow. Each thing then gave birth to another family of ideas, I filled sketch books with thoughts, a fraction of them have ended up in the show. I then started trying to play in a real room and explored objects and images and movement. I then combined the discoveries or juxtaposed moments to start to construct possible sequences. 



On O No! I worked with Wendy Hubbard as dramaturg and director, and Dominic Kennedy who designed the sound. We started to form a possible order of sequences with a possible logic for why things might follow one another, for me this is often about rhythm or contrast and Wendy will try to put herself in the position of audience to see if she can spot any gaps. 

We then made a work in progress performance which was, for me, a chance to find out what the show was really about. I then entered another process of editing and making on reflection of the work in progress, with both outside eye and sound designer. This time the work was much more about distilling the essence of the show and working on detail and getting a sense of a journey for an audience. Then came the work on my performance with an audience.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I like a performance to create space for an audience to feel, think, play and dream or whatever they are in the mood for. It's important for me that I know what my work is about but the language of the piece is very open. 


It's important that the collage of sound, movement and images combined with stories doesn't have a singular meaning, I'm much more interested in the audiences' experience of the piece rather than the meaning they make. O No! is really about what happens when a group of people really think about love together in a room. So the work changes with every different group of people.


Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
For me dramaturgy is about communication, it's an attempt at controlling the communication between artist and audience, it's about punctuation and breathing. It's about the frames and context the work is seen through and in. It's an attempt to create a machine, introduce the audience to it, teach the audience how the machine works and then show them what it can do.

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