Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Superbolted Dramaturgy: Simon Maeder @ Edfringe 2015

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Simon Maeder: Our production, Jurassic Park was inspired by our work on film in theatre. We produce highly physical work and have always loved adapting the language of film to the stage. Can theatre switch from image to image in a split second, as in film? Can it layer its stories? Slow down time? When we were approached by VAULT festival last year to headline their 2015 festival, we thought that the perfect opportunity to explore our love of film in our unique, Superbolt way. 

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?If there ever was a setting for the term 'world stage', it's Edinburgh. We're an international company and have loved meeting artists and seeing shows from all over the world at this festival in the past. It's a space where artists can be daring, and the daring can be rewarded. 

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They can expect to have fun! We create larger-than-life characters to tell our stories. Jurassic Park is about a family who recently lost their mother and have been thrown into an unexpected situation. It is a very funny show but audiences who have seen it have also told us at how touching it was. We don't shy away from sombre/touching moments in our shows, we believe they have a place amongst the comedy and help to create a richer, fuller experience. 

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?This is our first (semi) adaptation, so dramaturgy became relevant to us when exploring the ways the language of film can be successfully replicated in a live situation. It became about using the 'unpolished' aspects of live theatre, instead of focusing on the perfection of film. Normally though it's about our relationship to space and characters. 

Our first three shows told very different stories but maintained a physical language that had to come about through experimentation. We set our shows in the here-and-now, we don't put up a fourth wall and we don't hide from our audience (and conversely, they don't hide from us). The audience/actor relationship is what makes theatre unique and we use this when telling our stories.

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?
We all trained at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris so his work has had a big influence on us as a company. That does not mean we create 'Lecoq' style work. We find that, especially in the UK, audiences associate that word with a certain style, when in reality, companies that leave the Lecoq school are as varied and eclectic as any other. The school doesn't limit you, it feeds your creativity and lets you explore what will eventually become uniquely yours.

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?
Our work is extremely collaborative! We work and write as a team and it means that the finished product has a bit of all of us in it. We start with an idea that we think would be fun (eg, how great would it be to watch a show about X). We then approach that idea from every angle over a long time, usually in short discussions or emails. Finally we get into the rehearsal room and have a go at staging all the ideas that have come up. 

Strong ones usually stand out and they dictate what path the show goes down. Once we have some scenes or a story that we're happy with we invite outside eyes and people we trust to come in and tell us if we're on the right track. The show is then premièred and continually worked on for the entire time it tours. Our first show was made four years ago and we still occasionally edit the script to add things in that have come about on stage that we want to keep for future performances.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Our shows always have characters that are in the same space as the audience. They talk directly to them and they bring them on the journey. We don't allow this relationship to limit where the story can go though. Just because a character greets you at the door, doesn't mean they can't be showing you another world in just a few minutes. 

We try to make theatre where the audience have no problem accepting this journey and that comes about through intense character work. As long as the characters are rounded, fun, larger-than-life individuals, our audience doesn't mind following them wherever they are asked to go.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Dramaturgy is, by its nature, all encompassing. Its effects must be considered from the moment a person steps into the theatre, not just by the audience, but by the company. I would ask: how do you use dramaturgy to make sure your show stands out? Edinburgh is a micrcosm of the the industry itself, if you don't have something that makes your work brilliant then audiences and theatres might not be interested.

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