Thursday, 23 July 2015

Touching Dramaturgy: Ciarán Myers @ Edfringe 2015


A co-production of Ciarán Myers and Asylon Theatre presented by Universal Arts at the New Town Theatre. 96 George Street, Edinburgh.

Touch, at the New Town Theatre, comes from a team from Ireland, Poland, Canada, London, and Peru—all with strong ties to Edinburgh and Scotland.

Jacky is sweet. She wants to get to know you better. She wants to help you.

So why is there blood on the stage?

Jacky used to teach people how to see and understand each other better. But when she starts to find that difficult in her own life, it unleashes a dark habit. In the true spirit of immersive theatre, she relies on you to help her navigate the narrow roads between her love and self-loathing. Maybe you have as much to gain from her in return.

Written by Ciarán Myers, a recent Central School graduate and award-winning writer in Almost Random Theatre’s 2015 Valentine Plays Competition.
Starring Katarzyna Wizental, coming all the way from Poland to play Jacky.

Directed by the Artistic Director of Asylon Theatre, Marta Mari.
Original score composed and performed by Raymond Considine.

Costumes designed by Ellen Rey de Castro.

19th – 30th of August. 7pm. (65 minutes.)

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?

Ciarán Myers: The concept for Touch occurred to me years before I was prepared to write the script. We don’t generally like to talk about it but I do think all creative people can nod their heads at this notion: making something feels a little bit like therapy. The struggles of the main character are a sort of heightened metaphor for everyday insecurities and private “daemons” that keep us down.

Also, I just love the idea of presenting a mystery. You walk into the theatre, and there’s a young woman covered in bandages. It’s a question and a promise … where did she come from and where is she going to take me? As a writer I’m a bit sadistically thrilled with how long I can keep these answers back from the audience. It’s an opportunity for me to toy with you and hope that you’re playful enough to jab back at me. It’s called a “play” after all!

Where does your piece at the fringe fit with your usual work?

I usually tend to write politically driven stories with juggernaut themes in strange environments. By contrast, Touch is a heartfelt monologue in a small room with a kindly stranger. If the critics love it, I’ll have an identity crisis.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
I’m certain that my magnificent director Marta Mari has a strong handle on this. But I’d like to just throw some adjectives at you … I want the audience to feel comforted, reassured, teased, entertained, and just a little bit empowered. Despite my answer to the very first question, this show is for you much more than it is for me.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?

I don’t like the word “dramaturgy” because I prefer to think of myself as more of an artist than an organizer. But I can’t deny that dramaturgy is the alpha and omega of everything I do. This play in particular leans on the relationship between actor and performer. It’s a monologue and she won’t be talking to the walls behind you. As you get to know her better, the question is, how will YOU be affecting the character? 

I’ll let you in on a special secret. There is more than one ending. And I don’t think you’ll be aware of which one you are unwittingly bringing her to. 

(Maybe come see us twice?) Dat’s dramaturgy, yo!

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?

This play showcases my geeky fandom for Tim Crouch. The sense of experimentation here is much softer than in most of Crouch’s work, but the role of the audience is just as crucial. Here’s a portrait of fascinating difficulties in a character’s life, dependant on your relationship with the way it is presented in order for the presentation to work. Theatre is a playful medium and I set out to exploit that.

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?

One of the reasons I write theatre instead of novels or short stories is because I love collaboration. For Touch, in particular, I’ve told the creative team that they should feel a sense of ownership over the play and they have bravely obliged. The script has traveled a great distance since we started working together and credit goes to the actor and director for the way they were willing to toy with it. I very firmly believe that if I allow for just a little fluidity in my role as the playwright, the ultimate product is almost always better.

What do you feel the role of the critic is? 

For Touch, the critic is tremendously important! If you happen to see a different ending than your favorite critic got to see, a review will be your access to the rest of the show. That’s always the role of criticism though, isn’t it? An extra limb of the project itself, responding to the play, offering insight to those who see it and audience to those who don’t. 

Because there is more than one ending, the critic will create necessary documentation, just like this interview, so that we have the opportunity to talk about it. Which ending do different people like more? Why? Did you notice how tonight’s production brought us to where we ended up? Did you not? These are all important parts of the play that might be completely lost without criticism. Come criticize me! 
“Come sit next to a stranger, maybe you’ll fall in love. It’s happened before!”

Touch is a warm and charming story that guides us through the calamitous corners of our sense of self worth.

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