Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Dead Letter Dramaturgy: Marli Siu @ Edfringe 2015

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Marli Siu: This play was born around a setting. It was an improv game about a shop that made me think about where lost things go, I then turned to the internet and discovered a place called 'The Dead Letter Office' where all the lost mail of the UK goes. I brought this setting to the rest of the group and we created the story from there.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
We are all born and raised in Scotland and have studied for 4 years in Edinburgh and Napier University. Our degree culminates in creating a show for the fringe, so a lot of time, effort and passion has gone into this play because this play is not only the equivalent of our dissertation, but it is also a launch pad for our theatre company and the start of our careers.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
From the previews we showed in May the most exciting feedback we've had is that every individual felt something different from our show. Also, people wanted to talk to us about it, they wanted to tell us their interpretation and their feelings about the play. An audience can expect to see 5 strange characters, each with a secret and storyline that weaves into one another’s. The audience will also see new uses of flashbacks in what we like to call a 'snap-flash', where there is a sharp change in time, location and sometimes characters, half way through scenes. The audience can expect to be thinking about this play for the rest of the evening once they leave the theatre, and perhaps may come for a second viewing to pick up on the clues they might miss the first time.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
We had to create a whole new world for this play, and with that comes rules in the world of the play, or more specifically, in the Dead Letter Office. Due to this, the writing and development of this piece of theatre was more intricate than most plays we’d dealt with in the past, because we wanted to keep our feet based in realism but set it in a fantastical place that makes letters come to life, without crossing too far into the realms of fantasy. We had to continuously question ourselves on whether something could actually take place in this world, without breaking the rules we’d created.

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 brought different influences with us into creating this piece. I’m inspired by the structure of theatre, the way a play is pieced together and the way it flows. I saw a play called This is Living last year which really made in an impact on me and inspired ‘snap-flashes’. I think we’re all inspired by every day life encounters and brought a lot of our own experiences into the dialogue. I don’t think we see ourselves within any particular genre or tradition.

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?

Usually one person has an idea and we build each other’s ideas up. Two of us wrote together to actually form the script and storyline. But there was also talking in bedrooms till 3 in the morning discussing story lines and twists and character arcs and development. All of this went into building our play.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The most important role. Our play is completely open to interpretation, we left the ending ambitious intentionally so the audience can decide based on what they learnt about the rules of this strange new world, in the hour our story takes to tell. Our play has a fantasy element where the letters come to life, therefore it is dependent on an audiences mind and tastes to whether they read this play as a fantastical place where things come to life, or whether they take a psychological reading and depict the characters as mad, or another reading and meaning all together.

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