Wednesday, 5 August 2015

MacDramaturgy: Stuart Harvey @ Edfringe 2015

credit: chris de wilde

Creator and producer of Loserville, Youth Music Theatre UK showcases its musical reimagining of Macbeth, at New Town Theatre, 19-30 August (3pm), following a successful run at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre last year. The Scottish premiere of the show will feature a cast of forty performers and musicians aged 11-21, including six young actors from Aberdeen, selected through a nationwide audition process.

The Fringe
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Stuart Harvey: Garth and I had worked together the year before on another project for YMT investigating the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The company's executive producer very much liked our take on the story and decided to offer us the chance to tackle Macbeth. As soon as we started the creative process we were hooked.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
We have been developing the piece for a few years now and the idea of sharing it with the Fringe audience is really exciting. We consider the piece to be challenging and thought-provoking and so us presenting it to a new, fresh audience seems the most logical step.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Our piece is a dark, epic, visceral movement theatre. Over the years I have seen many quizzical looks when I have said I am directing Macbeth the musical but it is completely different to what everyone imagines. I think we have got the balance right of staying true to the heart of the narrative but have found a way to enhance certain moments within the piece with the addition of music and movement.  

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
It has had a huge relevance- taking a well known play and trying to create a brand new piece of music theatre needs a strong sense of direction and structure. We are always going back to the text, back to the essence of storytelling and making sure that even if we pull away from the original form the heart of the piece is still true. I have tried to find the balance between what did Shakespeare want to say and what do I want to say.
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?
Garth and I grab a lot of inspiration from film- we will usually talk on the phone or over Skype about the piece and our main references will come from cinema. This piece has been inspired by a number of different films as it has evolved; we began by looking at the neon nightmare of Drive, this evolved into the futuristic dystopia of Blade Runner and now we are investigating the communist bloc and films like The Lives of Others and Goodbye Lenin. Garth and I are also huge fans of Caravaggio and so his use of chiaroscuro always plays a big part in the aesthetic of our work.

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?
Collaboration for me is essential in theatre making. As a director I feel that I give everyone the freedom and space to bring their strengths into the process. I am very lucky to have an amazing team of people who all add something very special to the work. The initial idea and vision may well be mine and through hours of research and long discussions the piece slowly comes together. Research is key, I feel I should be in a position as the director to be able to answer any questions that the performers, creative team or technical team may have. 

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
They are essential, if there is no audience than there is no point. All my work is trying to create a dialogue with the audience. I want people to leave the theatre and be moved in some way with what they have witnessed. I am always intrigued with what audience members have to say after a production- not so much as critics, if they see the piece as good or bad I'm not so interested in but how it made them feel and think is incredibly important.

YMT is the UK’s largest commissioner of new musicals, with Loserville receiving a professional run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the West End’s Garrick Theatre in 2012, plus nominations for Best New Musical at the Olivier, Whatsonstage and BroadwayWorldUK awards.  

Past alumni of YMT include Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Lauren Samuels (We Will Rock You/Bend It Like Beckham), Charlotte Ritchie (Call The Midwife/Fresh Meat) and many more.

This modern take on the classic tale of treachery, deceit and ambition is set in a future dystopia, where the digital world has come to a grinding halt. Featuring the original play’s abridged text set to music ranging from urban electronica to contemporary classical choral, New Music Theatre by Stuart Harvey and Garth McConaghie and choreography by Rachel Birch-Lawson create Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before.

With grateful thanks to our funders: Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, NASUWT, Leverhulme Trust, Trinity College London, PRS for Music Foundation

Youth Music Theatre UK is also bringing its production of Not The End Of The World to the New Town Theatre 6-16 August.

New Town Theatre (venue 7), Freemasons Hall, George Street, EH2 3DH, 19-30 August, 15.00 (90 mins). Suitability: PG. Ticket price: £12/10,
family ticket: £8 per person, schools offer: please call 020 8563 7725.
Box Office: 0131 226 0000 / from 6 August 0131 220 0143, online sales:

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