Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Beware the Dramaturgy: Laurence Young and Caspar Mark Cech-Lucas @ Edfringe 2015

UCLURunaground Presents
The Jabberwocky
An original production for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Beware the Jabberwock my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Dive into a magical adventure in the weird and wonderful world of Lewis Carroll’s famous poem! Follow the journey of a young boy, in his quest to save his critically-ill mother's heart. Join us in celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland.
Written by Caspar Mark Cech-Lucas and Laurence Young

The Jabberwocky is a banquet of shadow-puppetry, physical theatre, and music that will wow audiences of all ages!

WHEN: 1.30pm DAILY 7th-22nd AUGUST
TICKETS: £8.50/£7 Concessions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Laurence Young and Caspar Mark Cech-Lucas: Dramaturgy was a particularly important process in the creation of The Jabberwocky. We started with the Lewis Carroll poem, and this was adapted and expanded upon to create the plot upon which we based the show. This was, however, very much a rough starting point, and so we worked collaboratively with the actors to shape this story into something that would work dramatically on stage, especially for a family audience. 

Dramaturgy was thus a necessary tool for bringing the story to life. We had a very loose and open story to work with, which meant that the dramaturgical process was very free and creative. Because the play is set in a fantasy realm there was no need for a dramaturg in the classic sense - an expert of a particular cultural milieu, but rather collectively we worked within a dramaturgical framework that was only constricted by the limits of our imagination.

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?
At the Fringe Festival there is a great tradition of “children’s theatre”, containing puppetry that will appeal to audiences of all ages. It was this type of work we enjoyed the most at our first visit to the Fringe and is definitely something that inspired the creation of The Jabberwocky. We wanted to encourage everyone, including adult audiences to “play”. This is espoused by practitioners such as Complicite, whose primary aim is to completely enjoy everything they (as a company) do, both in the rehearsal process and on stage. External influences aside, we have tried to forge our own unique style, mostly by combining different techniques that we’d seen in various shows: the Jabberwocky is a fusion of puppetry, shadow-puppetry, physical theatre and music!

Essentially we believe that if we’re having fun the audience probably will too!

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 first task as above was to adapt the poem into a plot and from a plot into a script. However when we began rehearsing we didn’t introduce the script until around two weeks in. We wanted to start exploring as much of the world of the Jabberwocky as possible first, without the limitations that a script imposes. To this end we did a lot of improvisations with our actors, creating characters and exploring those who appeared in the script. We also spent time drawing detailed visuals for the world of our Jabberwocky, creating a set of circumstances that would inform the base decisions of each character.

Because we were first time writers we felt that the world, the characters and the story were far more important than the words themselves, and so we tried to give the actors a free reign on how the script would ultimately look. We recorded all of the improvisation and exploration and re-drafted them into our script, mostly to give the play structural support.

We have always rehearsed our semi-devised play leaving plenty of room for new details to emerge at any point - until the story of the Jabberwocky had come alive. The whole process was intensely collaborative one; both working with actors but also extending into the design elements of the show. 

Our very talented designer (Caitlin Abbott) began with her own ideas but began adapting and changing designs to fit in with what cast were creating in rehearsal. This has led us to some beautiful puppets which we really had no idea would exist when we wrote our first draft of the show. We also worked closely with another talented individual, Jude Obermuller, who composed original music for the show. Again we discussed at length the changing dynamics of the show, leading to a beautiful score, influenced heavily by our rehearsal process.

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
This production was very much inspired by our first trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where wonderful shows such as It’s Dark Outside and The Trench really moved us in terms of how powerful and beautiful supposed “children’s shows” could be (or at least use what is considered a child-centric technique, puppetry, as the main dramatic device). The Jabberwocky emerged because it featured prominently in our childhoods, and was something that we thought could be a really exciting and magical story to tell. It would also facilitate all the various techniques that we found so beautiful while remaining a story with a strong emotional core.

How does this show fit with your usual productions?
For our university drama society, The Jabberwocky is a radical breakaway from the more traditional form of theatre that most of our endeavours take. This exposes both the cast and crew to new forms of theatre that aren’t always available at a student level – a refreshing experience! The show has also given us the opportunity to work with a variety of accomplished individuals who have influenced the final product – and also made it a lot of fun!

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
First and foremost our audience can expect to see a visually exciting explosion of colour, music, puppetry and physical theatre. The Jabberwocky himself is a impressive feat of puppetry, operated by five actors and featuring “eyes aflame”, “jaws that bite and claws that catch”. 

However the focus of our story is on the young child who goes quest to save his mother, conquering his own fears in the process. We hope our audience will be captivated by the relationships within the story, particularly that between mother and son, and will identify with the familial love at the centre of our piece. 

UCLU Runaground is the touring branch of the UCLU Drama Society, offering students at University College London the chance to direct, produce and act in a variety of shows. The Jabberwocky is a new venture into the world of shadow and puppet theatre, workshopped over the summer with professionals from the theatre industry. The society has a simple aim: to create excellent and innovative student theatre.
Zoo Venue 124
140 Pleasance
Box Office: 0131 662 6892
Cast and Crew
Directed by: Caspar Mark Cech-Lucas & Laurence Young
Produced by: Roberto Valdo Cortese & Hayley Russell
Lead Designer: Caitlin Abbott
Associate Designer: Hannah Gillett
Technical: Sam Hoppen
Original Music by: Jude Obermuller

CAST: Matt Aldridge, Bella Dreissen, Polly Cohen, Louise Farnall, Charlotte Holtum, Lia Lee, Vincenzo Monachello, Matthew Neubauer and Ally Rooms. 

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