Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Trojan Dramaturgy: Team Horseplay @ Edfringe 2015

Napier University Drama Society presents Horseplay: The Troy Musical by Ross McFarlane
Co-Directed by Sam Eastop and Alexander Cook
7-15, 17-22 August 2015, 7.35pm

“It’s All Greek To Me!”

Napier University Drama Society are thrilled to present their Fringe debut of Horseplay: The Troy Musical. Horseplay explores the Greek myth of Troy and the Trojan War in a light-hearted, funny and incredibly entertaining musical escapade! Full of hysterical characters, scores of laugh out loud moments, and some of the most delightfully catchy songs that you’ll be humming long after the final bow, Horseplay is a rollicking historical re-telling for the whole family!

This epic myth will be retold in wonderful all-singing, all-dancing glory! Paris, Prince of Troy, is sent away from his home as a mere infant after a grave prophecy of Troy's ruin is attached to him. It is King Priam's hope that this prophecy can be averted if Paris never sets foot within the mighty city walls. However destiny is not that easily eluded, especially when vain gods, discordant apples, beautiful Spartan queens, and a gigantic wooden horse have anything to do with it!

It isn't long before a grown Paris finds his way back home and sets in motion a war that will bring all of Greece, its gods, thousands of Achaean soldiers - from Menelaus to Agamemnon and a singing Banana to the gates of Troy!

Horseplay: The Troy Musical by Ross McFarlane
Facebook: /NUDShorseplay Twitter @NapierNUDS 
Venue: Greenside Venue Forest Theatre @Infirmary Street (Venue 236), 6 Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT, Edinburgh
Date: 7-22 Aug 2015 (not 16)
Time: 19.35 (1h)
Box Office: 0131 618 6968


What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Answers from Team Horseplay and the directors, Alex Cook and Sam Eastop

The ambition of two was the spark of this production. The president of the Napier University Drama Society wished to produce a show in the Edinburgh Fringe, and the author of Horseplay - Ross Macfarlane - was delighted to have his show staged and offered us the script. Their shared cultivation of this project has seen it realised in full.

While the script had to undergo changes to fit our hour performance slot, the creativity blossomed organically from there in terms of staging and producing what we were given.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Aside from our University group being based in Edinburgh, the city offers such great talent and opportunities - even before one mentions the Fringe Festival, being a part of the cutting edge of new dramatic performances in the festival is something that cannot be beaten. With a local-based theatre company that continues to grow bigger and bolder every year, it was only a matter of time before we attempted to bring a production to the Fringe and this year everything fell into place.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Hopefully they will learn about the story of Troy - expect a silly, entertaining and educational musical romp through ancient Greece. We aim to enthuse and amuse.

They will also hear some very catchy songs that are bound to leave an impact. This musical retelling of parts of Homer's Iliad, places sharp humour and resounding songs at the fore-front of the experience. We would hope that the audience leaves with a smile on their face and our catchy songs in their minds, no matter what age they are.


How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Shaping the work of Homer, in particular The Iliad and the Greek war with Troy, into a performable, family-friendly, musical was no easy task. So, if one is to take dramaturgy in its broadest sense, it was relevant from the inception of the project. While the narrative structure was present from the on-set, building around the more adult themes and developing songs and musical numbers was all the work of the writer. 

From there, our job was to take the musical’s paper form and envision it for the stage. Considering character placement, their interactions - little details can completely change the message being received by the audience. Also, with every actor comes a subjective view of how a character should be portrayed, which added to the directors’ vision creates a unique amalgamation of dramaturgic processes. Quite simply, there would be no Horseplay without those dramaturgic decisions.

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?
Alex: With writers, producers and directors all arriving with different influences and inspirations, it is quite difficult to summarise them all. Reverence for Homer's original Iliad is a prominent influence that bands our creative team together. Inspiration from new contemporary musical productions are abound as well as from innovative independent theatre productions we have seen. We would like to replicate the energy, innovation and undaunted creativity we have seen and apply that to Homer's ancient tale.

Sam: As a director, I am inspired greatly by a number of theatre companies; particularly by a Chicago-based theatre company Starkid who are known for producing musical parodies of pop culture artefacts. Given the nature of our production, I had the chance to draw on my inspiration from such companies as well as adding my own unique twist and still allowing the originality of the text to shine through.

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?
Horseplay is a large-cast production. While there are Fringe shows that are entirely created by a pair of people, ours is produced and created by our society - a collection of directors, producers, techies, creatives, marketing team, and the support of other members. Essentially our process therefore started with a spark, a passion for what we do and what we are as a society. 

While following conventional theatre-making requirements, it is the collaboration and teamwork that really drives it and has helped us to get this far.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Sam: Theatre is a two-way street. Given my acting experience I know full well how beneficial a responsive audience can be to the performance. Every show should be different and malleable around the nature of the audience which is why I encourage a lot of individual artistic freedom in the cast. We hope for a diverse audience age-wise, as it is a family oriented production and we hope everyone can leave the theatre feeling like they have taken something from it… even if it is just the hum of the catchy songs!

Napier University Drama Society (NUDS) is a performing company representing a talented array of students who love creating, producing and performing theatre productions. Awarded 'Best Society’ by the university eighteen years in a row and this year receiving the prestigious Team Napier and Most Active Society titles, NUDS is a very proud theatre company cultivating new talent every year.  

One of the producers and a two-year society president, Meg McAuley, said “NUDS has grown and changed over the past few years, becoming more like a theatre company than simply a society. However, we have not had the capacity to compete with larger and more experienced universities who bring their theatre work to the Fringe Festival every year. This year we changed that and hope this can become an addition to our annual repertoire”.

Joe Derham, co-producing the show, states “Having seen the performers’ commitment  it is clear that everyone involved has a very strong emotional connection to the society and the project. Although there is still a huge amount to do, performers and organisers have already started to feel the reward that you can only get being part of a great team like this, especially when creating such an ambitious show.”  McAuley adds, “Quite simply, this show means the world to us.”

Cast includes: Samuel Hogarth; Fraser Nickolls; Josh McAuley; David Fraser; Andrew Lees; Joe Derham; Georgia Moran; Laura Preston; Stuart McCallum; Franny Penny; Hannah Neal; Samantha Long; Kyra Skellet; Lisa Aref; Jack Duffy; Cora McGookin; Jordan McBrearty; Sophie Adams; Meg McAuley; Shona Westwood.

The creative team includes: Sam Eastop and Alexander Cook as directors, alongside Joe Derham and Meg McAuley as executive producers. Music is directed by Adam Kilgour, while the production is managed by technical director Steph Clark and assisted by Cara Becker.

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