Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Paradox of Dramaturgy: Tom Neenan @ Edfringe 2015

Tom Neenan:
The Andromeda Paradox
Dome 10 - Pleasance Dome 
18.40 (19.40)
5-31 Aug
Previews 5-7 Aug

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
The show is very much based on British Sci-fi of the 50’s and 60’s such as Quatermass or Out Of The Unknown. But it’s mainly an excuse to cram lots of silly jokes into a show about aliens and secret government organizations. My shows always begin with a script, but the quicker I can get it up on its feet the better.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?

It’s the biggest arts festival in the world. Half the fun is doing your own show here, the other half is getting to see everyone else’s shows and properly take part.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
They can expect to feel intrigued and shocked and moved and elated and overjoyed. They can expect to see me sweating through a tweed suit. I genuinely hope this show is able to make people feel in a similar way to if they were watching a film. 

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I love creating exciting theatrical shows and employ any device through which I can portray lots of different characters and action using just my own body and a few props. Without that it would simply be me reading out a list of gags in different accents.

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

Well this year I am being directed by David Reed from The Penny Dreadfuls, which is excellent as I love the Dreadfuls’ shows. Their ability to combine narrative with silliness and big characters and so many excellent gags is something I’ve always enjoyed. 

I also remember seeing a great double bill of one man shows by Alex Lowe, which were just incredible. Other influences include comedy groups such as the National Theatre of Brent and The Right Size. All of these people are able to have you laughing one second and genuinely feeling something for their characters the next.

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?
It all starts with thinking about what genre or era would be fun to play around in. Then I’ll start thinking about how that would be represented easily on stage using just a costume and a small amount of props. As soon as I have convinced myself the idea may have legs I start writing the actual script. After the script is finished I start working with a director – in this case David Reed – and we both tear apart the script word by word. And because it’s David I know I am in good hands.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The audience is everything. And I hope audiences are able to take home different things from the show. The show is definitely ‘about’ something but I wear it quite lightly because you can easily get bogged down in meaning and forget you’re meant to be making people laugh.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
It’s difficult knowing when to go for the laugh or when to hold out on the emotion to make the story work. It’s something I’m still working on. There are some people who just get the balance absolutely perfect. Most of them are geniuses and they all work for Pixar.

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