Thursday, 16 July 2015

Red Headed Dramaturgy: Rebecca Perry @ Edfringe 2015

Rebecca Perry

Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl

Gilded Balloon – Teviot Balcony
18:30 (19:30)
5-31 Aug

Out of the coffeeshop and into THE JUNGLE! Joanie follows her anthropologist dreams with a job at The Jane Goodall Institute, Africa! This new, standalone story & follow-up to the 2014 Toronto Fringe sell-out hit, is more caffeinated fun – with chimps

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
It began with an idea. I had been working in a coffee shop for a while and to stave away the boredom of doing a repetitive task (you can only get so creative with latte art, trust me!), I started observing the customers in my coffee shop. After a week of taking notes about certain silly situations or funny habits exhibited by various employees or customers, I felt like I was a modern Jane Goodall in some sort of urban jungle, observing various animals at a watering hole. 

You realize humans and animals aren’t that different. And then it hit me: this angle was what would help me write a show for anyone who has ever had a job that they just couldn’t stand... 

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
After touring most of North America’s fringe festivals with this piece I am excited to bring a solo show about redheads…to the land of redheads! That’s actually just a small part of it though, in all honesty, I’ve been dying to make a European premiere with this piece. It is a show for anyone who has ever had a job that they didn’t like, and I think it will resonate in Scotland just as much as it did in North America. Life lessons, co-worker showdowns, standing up for who you are and jazzy tunes all in under an hour.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of
your production?

On a playful note, I hope that they feel entertained: I play 20+ characters in one hour including Jane Goodall herself, animals, customers, employees and the title character Joanie Little. On a positive note, I hope that they see that no job is ever boring if you have the right mindset. This show is meant to be light-hearted and fun, yes, but it also illustrates that any bad situation is only temporary because you are the one in control. Joanie figures out what she needs out of her life through trial and error and chance encounters at this coffee shop – somewhere she didn’t want to be in the first place - showing that you never know where life will take you. Maybe you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
For me, once I starting working with a dramaturg, the potential of the script and the specific power of a solo performance became much more realized. A dramaturg’s job is to ask the writer questions or curate certain exercises that will release the full potential of a script. Once I used a dramaturg, I was surprised at how much clearer my ideas were and how much more I was discovering about each character.

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?
Oh definitely! My dramaturg himself, Ron Fromstein, is a talented solo theatre dramaturg but also a solo theatre playwright. I’ve read a lot of his work and love the how he just “says it like it is”. I don’t think you need heightened text to tell a good story, you just need a compelling subject. 

 As far as other solo performers whom I admire and have definitely given me inspiration for my own work: Kirsten Thompson of I,Claudia. Haylee McGee of Oh My Irma as well a solo performer and playwright TJ Dawe (his fringe script Toothpaste & Cigars has just been turned into a major motion picture titled The F Word starring Daniel Radcliffe). All of their genres & styles of solo storytelling are compelling and to the point. They keep you in the middle of the action, which is something I always aspire to do within my writing and performing any solo show.

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?
It usually starts with a life experience I draw from, for example this show, Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl, is loosely based on the events that happened to me while working in a hip and trendy area of Toronto at an indie coffee shop. I started writing isolated stories about specific customers and then realized I had enough to essentially tell a story about Joanie (the title character) and the world she works in. All of the customers I’ve spotlighted in the show either help or influence her on her way to the conclusion of the show.

Then I involve a dramaturg. He helps me connect the story, find its 3 Act structure, its beginning and end, what stories aren’t need, which are. And then once I have a rough draft I am happy with I share it with the director and assistant director. Along with Ron, our dramaturg, the four of us get it on its feet and figure out what we find captivating and what we can cut. From there the show starts to bloom.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
They are 100% crucial. This show is meant to send a positive message to people and it is targeted at the niche of young graduated who’re working hum-drum jobs or anyone who feels like they haven’t gotten enough recognition within their chosen field of study. It is also about owning who you are and not apologizing for it (hence Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl). I need them or else my story is pointless. This solo show is for anyone who’s ever had a job they couldn’t stand.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Not at all. I think all that is left to say is that I truly believe shows of any medium, be it solo theatre, clown, large-scale physical theatre or even puppetry can benefit from an outside eye. I feel that a dramaturg is a necessary part of theatre making. Cheers Gareth!

No comments :

Post a Comment