Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Surging Dramaturgy: Car Men @ Surge 2015

Surge 2015
Friday 31st July, 13.00 & 17.00, Candleriggs Square

Saturday 1st August, 13.00 & 16.00, Candleriggs Square

Sunday 2nd August, 13.00 & 16.00, Candleriggs Square 

Showing up on pedestrian streets to promote their mobile garage, these bumbling mobile mechanics conceal their incompetence by turning to their hobby - opera! Led by a desperate amateur, this unlikely trio live up to their name, performing Carmen in all its greasy glory.

With: Christopher Nairne, Douglas Nairne & Alistair Digges
Music arrangement by Stephen Deazley

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Alan Richardson: The inspiration behind the production was quite simply coming across 3 trained opera singers, who were not ‘precious' about opera and interested in performing outside. Also bringing opera to the streets, in a much more digestible way for the public at large, who would never entertain the thought of going to an opera house.

Why bring your work to Surge?
As director of Conflux, bringing work to Surge is part of my job. However in terms of the overall remit of Conflux it is important for us to engage with a wide variety of of art forms and see how they can work in the context of the development of street arts, physical theatre and circus. In therms of street arts, live music is often restricted to either brass ensembles or drumming groups, so to experiment with opera is a welcome divergence.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
The production is designed to be comic and enjoyable. The musical arrangement (Stephen Deazley) and the opera singing itself is of an extremely high standard, so whilst the production does ridicule some of the traditions, performance style and indeed content of opera, it does not do this at the expense of music. All of the tunes are taken directly from Bizet’s Carmen and arranged for three unaccompanied male singers - the lyrics however are somewhat more flippant.

Car Men from Conflux on Vimeo.

About Dramaturgy

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of

dramaturgy within your work?
The dramaturgy of the work - though this is somewhat a grandiose term for this kind of work - was in fact what shaped the performance as a whole. The structure of the performance was decided and clarified before any of the lyrics were written, or music was arranged. 

The arc of the performance was decided between director, composer and the three performers. Once defined the lyrics were written based on this, then arrangements were then composed and finally this completed score was rehearsed and directed. In outdoor arts, particular in static circle shows, often the dramaturgy is the only definitive structure, as scripts, such as they are for street work, and what happens in specific scenes will change each performance due to audience interaction .

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?
Clowning mostly - based on the teachings of Philippe Gaulier. But also traditions of opera, though mostly taken to enhance the humour rather than being faithful to them.

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?
See Question 1. Collaborative approach is essential for street work of this kind, as the performers need to be extremely comfortable with the material, so that the unexpected that happens on the street can be used to enhance the performance rather than it getting in the way.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
The audience needs to engage in the work in an active way - this is true of most small scale street work - work that is made for a passive audience, is often inappropriate for street work as it doesn’t take into account where you are, which would negate the reason for being outside in a street in the first place. In the case of Car Men, the direct audience interaction is reasonable small, with a could of audience members taking part in the action for a few minutes - but an active and lively crowd will increase the quality of the experience for the audience as a whole.

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