Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Scottish Dramaturgy: Vladimir McTavish @ Edfringe 2015

Scotland’s best satirical stand-up, at the 2015 Scottish Comedy Awards for ‘Aye Right? How No? The Comedy Countdown to the Referendum’, which featured guest appearances from top comedians including Rory Bremner and Fred MacAulay, is gearing up for another box office success at the 2015 Fringe.

His solo show, Scotland, 45 Events That Shaped a Nation reflects on the most significant year in the nation’s recent history and takes a wry and biting look back at our past and at the key moments that forged modern Scotland.

Vladimir talks about various events including Bannockburn, the Act of Union, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Winter of Discontent, Argentina 1978 and the Referendum. He also reflects on the Highland Clearances and the invention of the telephone and TV, which have helped shape the modern world as we know it.

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

This production was very much inspired with the idea that I wanted to do a comedy show that chronicled and commented upon events of the past year in Scotland, and to look at their parallels in history. The past twelve months have been the most significant period in Scottish history, and I believe there is huge comic potential in viewing history in a modern-day context, and vice-versa.

Previous productions have started with the show title, and developed from there.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
The simple answer is that I live in Edinburgh, and to ignore the fact that my home city hosts the world’s largest arts festival would be willfully obtuse. The Edinburgh Fringe is a huge opportunity for Scottish artists to perform their work on a World stage. Particularly in comedy, the work of Scottish artists is still woefully under-represented at the Fringe.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They will see very little in this production other than me standing behind a microphone. Unlike previous Fringev shows of mine, this year’s show has no audio-visual element to it. In the past I have used video and power point. This year, I want it to be all about the words. I want the show to be thought-provoking, and would hope it will encourage political debate.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
For my first solo show I worked with a director, whose role was closer to dramaturgue, in that the show was written almost collaboratively. Quite often, the best results came when we disagreed.

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?
Stand-up comedy is essentially Brechtian in nature. Within that tradition, there are many variations as to how we can approach our subject matter. I guess I fall somewhere between court jester, agit-prop and vaudeville.

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?
There is no hard-and-fast process to how I develop work. Sometimes it will be heavily scripted, sometimes it will be improvised in rehearsal, but most commonly a combination of the two. Almost inevitably, however, material will change and eveolve when performed in front of an audience.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
In comedy, the role of the audience is absolutely fundamental. With no audience, there is no comedy. Without laughter, comic routines are just a random combination of words

Vladimir, renowned for his genial yet hard-edged style, was nominated Top Headliner in the 2014 Scottish Comedy Awards and has recently returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand, in which he was nominated for the comedy award at Fringe World in Perth.

He also recently performed at The Adelaide Fringe and at The Dunedin Fringe in New Zealand, a city founded by Scots in the nineteenth century.

He will be performing every evening from Friday 7th to Sunday 30th August (except Monday 17th) at The Stand, 6.15pm.

Vladimir said: “There was an almost tangible excitement throughout Scotland last year, a realisation that we were living in a huge moment of history. Regardless of how we voted, most Scots were proud of how we acted as a nation throughout the referendum.

“The high turnout, the level of voter engagement, the cultural events around the debate and the excitement about politics were things I had never witnessed before in this country. It was exciting to see that same passion re-emerging at the general Election. I have never known us to be such a confident, assertive nation."

The inspiration for his solo show came from a visit to Australia earlier this year.

Vladimir continues: "Wherever I performed both in Australia and New Zealand, people had seen footage of the referendum campaign on TV and were envious of the level of engagement, particularly amongst the young. The eyes of the World were on Scotland, and they were impressed. However, most could not understand why we had voted No. I could quote Burns but that might seem pretentious. After all, it is a comedy show."

His show is hard-hitting, thought-provoking and incredibly funny, and expected to be another critical and box office success. Audiences should expect a blend of observational humour about the Scottish psyche mixed with up-to-the-minute topicality.

Vladimir continues: "This nation is changing so fast, who knows what will happen between now and August".

Additionally, Vladimir will also be performing in a show that blends stand-up, comment, spoken word and politics, ‘So, That’s How We Voted’, where he is re-united with Kier McAllister and Mark Nelson, his collaborators on ‘Aye Right? How No?’.

Billed as ‘radical stand-up and chat’, the show will blend comedy and comment in a talk-show format with special guest appearances from some of Scotland’s finest comedians.

This will run at the Assembly Rooms from Friday 7th to Sunday 30th August (except Monday 17th) at 5pm.

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