Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Folklore of Dramaturgy: The Mabinogion @ Edfringe 2015

The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh legends and folklore; compiled from texts found in two late-medieval manuscripts – the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch – they were initially translated by famed antiquarians William Pughe and Lady Charlotte Guest in the early nineteenth century.
Suitable for families, BEDS’s The Mabinogion follows the story of a powerful, cunning magician, a beautiful princess sold into marriage and the quest of a daring Prince to follow his heart.

Following the success and sold out run of their previous adaptation, Don Quixote, BEDS returns to the Fringe for the fifth time this summer, with a new bilingual adaptation of the classic Welsh legends.

The Mabinogion 17 – 22 Aug 18:35 (50min)

Tickets: Adult £5, Concessions £3, Family £2.50 each
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (V53)

I'm Osian Garmon, 

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
 Osian Garmon, director:I'd wanted to adapt the Mabinogion for the stage since seeing a fantastic production by the National Youth Theatre of Wales back in 2008. They're fantastic pieces of literature, so the idea was to try and get them to translate effectively onto the stage with a small ensemble cast.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?The Fringe is always a great opportunity to showcase young writing, directing and acting talents, as well as being a fantastic experience. I wanted to bring BEDS to Edinburgh with a piece of Welsh culture too, since that seems to be a rare thing at the Fringe.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hopefully, they'll go away having enjoyed themselves, as well as having had a glimpse into Welsh history and culture from a Welsh perspective, something which is sometimes hard to get in theatre. I hope people will enjoy our adaptation of these tales while also taking us for what we are - a student drama society putting on 'our version of events' as it were, our version of these classic, fantastical tales.

The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Well, we use a variety of techniques - it's a bit of a mix, really! We make use of an open, storytelling technique which is Brechtian, but without the political undertones. We use elements of physical theatre which help our actors engage with their characters and their quirks, and even encourage a little method acting!

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?
My script is a stage adaptation of stories that already existed, but Saunders Lewis has been a great influence on me. I love his formal, intricate use of language and the way he brings classic Welsh stories to life, such as his dramatisation of the tales of Blodeuwedd, Pwyll and his famous play on the life of Joan (or Siwan), the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales. I'd hesitate to compare myself to the man who is known as the Welsh Shakespeare, but I've certainly been inspired by his work.

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?
The script has been tailored to the cast's needs, it's a very organic, collaborative process that we've been through. I started with a fairly straight adaptation - it was clunky and rough, but it got the job done. By now we have a more organic, refined version thanks to the cast's contributions. Rosie, my co-director has also been very helpful! All in all, I feel that the more opinions I get on my work, the more it develops. I tend to take those contributions on board, before scuttling off to my room for a few days to write some more scenes!

4. What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?

Our production strives to engage with the audience as much as possible, so that anyone watching the show will have an immersive experience grounded in good old-fashioned storytelling. We introduce ourselves at the beginning of the play as being bards of the medieval Welsh court - their purpose was to make their audiences believe in their stories, to get them to lose themselves in the adventures of Pwyll or Branwen. Hopefully we can achieve the same!

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