Tuesday, 4 August 2015

In Case of Dramaturgy: Vanessa Smyth @ Edfringe 2015


Edinburgh Aug 6-30

Toronto, CANADA… Uncles and Anthems and Derrick Chua are pleased to announce that Canadian rising star Vanessa Smythe’s In Case We Disappear will be touring to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, from August 6 - 30, 2015. In Case We Disappear will be part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival, playing at Moriarty’s, 161 Lothian Road. 

Whimsical and entertaining, In Case We Disappear blends stories of accidental booty calls and forced family hugs in what becomes a theatrical love letter to all the people who vanish. Combining poetry, comedy, and a capella melody, and reminiscent of Flight of the Conchords, the “enchanting, clever, [and] incomparable Vanessa Smythe” (She Does The City) shares her most intimate and kooky stories, in case she vanishes. 

Written and performed by Vanessa Smythe
Laughing Horse Free Festival @ Moriarty’s 
161 Lothian Road, Edinburgh
Aug 6-30 (not 12, 20), 21:15 (60 mins)

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object? 
Vanessa Smythe: I was an unemployed actor with no project to funnel myself into, but I felt this huge impulse to make a show. I booked a space and invited all my family and friends to come see
me. Only I didn’t have a show, just a reason that compelled me to perform in the first place. So I titled the night with my reason for doing it: In Case We Disappear.  

Whenever I remember that I’m going to disappear someday, I’m compelled to tell stories. Kooky stories, weird ones, personal ones. It’s either because I’m afraid of things/people vanishing and need a story to calm down, or because I remember that oh I’m going to die and won’t always be able to love the people in my life, so let’s give them a story, which to me at least, is love.

All the pieces originated out loud. I wrote them down long afterwards. 

Why bring your work to Edinburgh? 
I love doing the show. I did it in New York last fall and was so touched by the response, people were really moved. Then I got to do it in my home-town Toronto Fringe this summer, and it was pretty magical. We sold out, people really breathed it in, got some nice starry reviews, all of that. It’s thrilling when you make something and feel it shared with others. 

I just thought Hm. How can I possibly share this as far and wide as possible? So I’m coming to Edinburgh, (where ironically nobody might come because I’m one of 3,300 shows…), but then again, when you believe in something deep down, you think, Let’s set this free, let’s see who else needs to hear it.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production? 
It’s a very intimate show. I talk to the audience. I bring you real close into these personal moments. Me booty-calling an ex over Facebook when I’m drunk, me trying to connect with my younger brother when he’s trying to play it cool in front of his friends. When I do the show, I feel like I’m offering a theatrical love letter to anybody listening. So I hope they feel embraced. But also that we can laugh at ourselves. That it’s all intense and hard and there’s sorrow, but also look what we have, how cool.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I think dramaturgy can be crucial for a work. Because my show combines a few different forms (there’s poetry, I sing-tell stories a cappella, there’s a bit of stand-up), I didn’t involve a dramaturg early on. I wanted to see where the show wanted to go, so to speak. Even now my audiences are usually my biggest dramaturgical clue. 

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?
I love live music, so I think my show almost occurs like an acoustic concert – but with stories and poems instead of just songs. I also have a heavy dance background, so there’s a physicality to the show that feels necessary. There are so many artists I look up to. We’re inspired by the things we love. Canadian artist Hawksley Workman (who did Edinburgh last year with The God That Comes) is a big influence. D’bi Young, a dub-poet writer-performer from Toronto taught me about sacredness, how stories can save us. There are many influences. But the show keeps evolving. I also did my undergrad in philosophy, and that’s when I first started really writing poems. In a way, this show feels like an ultimate gesture. Or at least, as ultimate as I can yet make it.  

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?
Because I don’t have any primary collaborators – at least when I’m first creating something, I usually make something up out loud. I improvise, and I record it with my cellphone. Then I wait. It’s not good to listen to it right away. But then once some time’s passed, and I listen to it, I’ll usually know right away if I have something. Later, I’ll film myself doing the pieces, and watch them back so I can tell what I like, what works, what needs changing. It’s good in a way, because I start to see myself as this other person, and I can tell her what she needs to hear. When I want a second opinion I have a few director colleagues I trust. Or I’ll just try something new in front of an audience. You can learn so much from doing that. 

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making
the meaning of your work? 
It’s always an offering and nobody has to take in anything you do. But I just try to remember that these stories came to me when I needed them, and so if I can pass them along and make them available for other people who might need them, and they feel a meaning in that, then hey, that’s pretty special.

In Case We Disappear originated at an emerging artist cabaret at Toronto’s legendary Theatre Passe Muraille. The full show was then invited to be part of the Crow's Theatre East End Performance Crawl, where it played to sold-out houses, receiving critical and popular acclaim. It was then invited to New York’s United Solo, the world’s largest solo theatre festival, in November, 2014. 

“Her stories ring true, whether she's describing attending her younger brother's Grade 8 graduation or initiating a drunk booty call with an ex.” -NOW 

A “charming, spontaneous performer with a big grin and restless energy”, Smythe has also worked with Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore &Kimberley Peirce in Theatre & Film

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