Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Trashing Dramaturgy: Be-Dom @ Edfringe 2015

Percussion superstars be-dom have created one of the world’s most popular theatre, comedy and dance shows – with instruments made out of rubbish.

The sextet – who are regulars on MTV and in television commercials – use waste products, such as frying pans, drainpipes, furniture and toys to make energetic, rousing music that leaves audiences cheering for more.

And the garbage instruments aren’t just a gimmick – the band genuinely wants to bring an eco-awareness to everything they do.

Group member Raul Manarte said: “Be-dom started out as the ‘soundtrack’ for a street physical theatre play sixteen years ago. We used oil drums because we didn't have money and we thought it was more urban.

“But as time went by, the green message became more and more central. Now it is a purpose and concern of ours. In the show we make noises with salad bowls, oil drums, bottles, cans, pans, ourselves… and even the audience.

“We up-cycle almost everything that we have on stage – such as scenery, instruments and clothing – and we also teach this philosophy through our workshops on making instruments and percussion.”

Be-dom – The Beat Bang!, Assembly Hall, Rainy Hall, 6 – 29 August, 8pm

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

We began with theater: we were the "live soundtrack" for a street physical theater play, where the actors performed to our music. From then on a lot of things have sipped into the show: recycling, our experience with tv spots, corportate events and their materials, our constant interaction with the audience, the places where we've played... 

We got more and more the sense that we were creating a world of our own, hence the Big Bang and the Universe Creation metaphor

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?Because the Fringe has opened so many door for us in the past... it has a special place in our artistic minds as a sort of a home away from home, the place where we try out new things: our favorite festival in the world

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?The audience will see energy, music, percussion, physical humor, it will fell energized, "booty shaked", happy and involved. It might think "how are they doing that" in a couple of moments. 

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

We started out playing with trash because it was cheap and making percussion because it's the only way of making trash sound something like music. Over the years the ecological side, the interactive side have gained a very big importance. 

Our main intention is to communicate, it does not matter what we are saying (we don't even talk) because all around the world people seem to "get it".. they dance, clap, sing, and even perform...

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?Although we started completely isolated from all the influences I will quote next, I think they are present in our work today. I think we come from a crossing over of two or three traditions: 
1. the alternative live percussion acts such as Mayumana, Stomp, Blue Man Group, Gumboots, Tap Dogs... 
2. world music, and by that I mean this sort of traditionally or ethnically based music that can easily translate everywhere else in the world 
3. the theater and performative arts scene, where the most simple form of communication such as mimic is combined with jaw dropping performances..

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 process may start in an object, a set or prop, a demand from a client, or a new technology we're exploring.. We may accidentally discover the amazing sound and melodic properties of a salad bowl and construct a sketch around it, we may be asked to perform in a TV Gala where we must approach different genres of music so that the dancers may perform to it, we may need to do a TV commercial using only construction tools or cellphones...
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? The audience as a huge role. It has so no only during the show itself but it also had in the creation of the show. A lot of the ideas that we bring on stage have started a few years ago and the constant performing and input of the audience has really changed them, turned them into something completely different.. so even before the show starts the starts the collaboration has already begun.

Their new show for Edinburgh Fringe, The Beat Bang!, is an irresistible percussive party, where the audience itself becomes part of the performance.

André Baltazar, one of the musicians, said: “There is no narrative – the show is a collection of set pieces where the audience gets gradually pulled in, until it is responsible for a bigger part of the show than the actual performers. The audience makes us laugh, play and dance: no two shows are the same.

The Beat Bang! is a natural development of our years playing in our home country of Portugal and abroad, and our percussive language is universal. It’s very elemental but very engaging: we can go from tiny sounds, like a finger snap, to big, loud full-on percussion.

“I think the keywords are rhythm, laughter, interaction, creativity, charisma, and unpredictability. Everyone in the audience feels involved, there is this good vibe and the hour just flies by.”

“The most unique thing about our show is the level of effortless communication, the interaction we achieve with everybody, no matter which country we are in, the setting, or the age of the audience.”

And for the future, be-dom want to keep spreading their green message through their vibrant performances with waste-bin instruments. Baltazar added: “This year we would like to put an idea into action that we've had for a long time: to arrive at a city with nothing and develop a show based entirely on the materials, sounds, people and culture we find there.”

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