Sunday, 26 July 2015

Shifting Dramaturgy: Mark Hoper @ Edfringe 2015

Mark and Jake Productions in association with HookHitch Theatre

Cross the Shifting Sands
by Mark King and Jake Addley

L Frank Baum is one of the most famous authors of all time, but what do we really know about the man who gave us the gift of Oz?

A childhood plagued by solitude, loss and loneliness ignited and fueled the most wonderful imagination, inevitably sparking what was to become a lifelong passion. He created a special and intricately detailed place in his mind, a place beyond the rainbow where he could forget about his troubles and chose to share it with the world.

Join us as we delve into Baum’s imagination and explore his whirlwind life. Cross The Shifting Sands is a captivating, funny and touching play inspired by true events from the life of L Frank Baum.

A tale told beautifully by talented and accomplished actor Jake Addley. An entertaining yet emotive piece of drama that will move you to tears. From the creative team who brought One Fine Day to Edinburgh in 2011 and enjoyed five star reviews, a Stage Must See and a nomination for a Stage Best Solo Actor award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

C nova, venue 145 

9-31 Aug (not 18)
Time: 14:50(1h00)

C venues box office: 0845 260 1234

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Mark Hooper: We are working in association with a theatre company called HookHitch Theatre. They were keen to take up a trilogy this year about authors and asked us to contribute a piece. Our first choice was Frank Baum - he seemed like such a mysterious character. He gave so much to so many but little was really known of the man himself. So we hope to shed some light on that.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is a great platform to showcase your work, to really test it out, to throw it out to the world and see what the response is. It is such a creative and bustling place during the festival and it’s a fantastic way to meet new people, talk about each others work, and discover new partnerships and collaborations.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Our stories is based on the life of Frank Baum and we combine fact with some fictitious embellishment and we try to unravel the man behind the stories. What we do is pack a life in a 60minute show, we delve into his imagination and try to link it to events in his life. The audience will be moved, I promise that. Thrown into the magical world of his imagination one second and, at time, the dark and lonely world of his true existence the next.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Dramaturgy should be a consideration of all theatre makers, it is the difference between a good and great piece of theatre. It helps performer and director alike find a through-line, find variations, nuance and pace. I have just returned from a trip to the South-African arts festival in Graham’s town and would love to tell you about what I found there in terms of dramaturgical relevance within performance development and presentation.

I love theatre that demonstrates conciseness, nothing superfluous, everything presented carries meaning. It is a shared responsibility; director, actor, writer, they must all be conscious of the shape of the piece.

In a a solo-performance like ours, dramaturgy is of utmost importance. It is they key to sustaining an audiences attention, for keeping the piece alive, and vital if one is to avoid presenting deadly theatre.

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 am inspired by everything I see, good and bad. It would be hard to list specifics here. I saw a wonderful solo-performance at the fringe last year called Raymondo by Annie Siddons. Her writing was so powerful, it was a machine producing picture after picture in the audiences imagination; I think when we were developing our piece we always had this idea in mind. Using the power of words to paint pictures in the minds of the audience.

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 it really varies from one project to the next. Putting together the right team is, of course, the most important starting point. I think the question ‘why’ is a good place to start. If you have an idea you have to ask yourself - what is the purpose of us making this piece - what does it do, what is its function, why will people want to see this. It should be a story worth telling.

Working on your own is unhealthy in this industry. Collaborations and partnerships are what push us to make better work, to innovate, to be daring and to try new things, to create rich pieces of theatre that avoid pretension or becoming self-indulgent.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I considered this topic in great detail during my time at University and I could go on forever. The audience are the makers of meaning, as an actor, writer, director, lighting designer, sound designer we may try to guide their interpretation, and with some performances we do this to greater/lesser extent and with varying success. 

But in all cases the individual will make meaning from that which is presented sometimes it will be in line with our intention and at other times at complete odds. My idea of a typical ‘tree; will be different to yours now apply that to each individual word contained within a piece, then consider the individuals interpretation of movement, proxemics, action and so-forth - it is impossible to create a single, unified, universally agreed ‘meaning’ for a piece.

Cross The Shifting Sands is presented in association with HookHitch Theatre and is performed in their installation performance space at C nova, which also houses My Friend Peter and Phantasmagoria.

Mark King recently finished working as the associate director for Danny The Champion of the World UK Tour (London Contemporary Theatre), alongside Lotte Wakeham (associate for Matilda the Musical). He is currently the Head of Creative Learning at South Hill Park Arts Centre.

Jake Addley trained at the BRIT School in London. Recent projects include Swiss Cheese in Mother Courage and her Children UK Tour, Mr Nixon in Teechers UK Tour (Blackeyed Theatre) and the Up and Down UK Tour.

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