Friday, 14 August 2015

Phantom Dramaturgy: Matthew Lillard @ Edfringe

FAULT LINES – By Emmy nominee and Broadway favourite Stephen Belber. Whole foods, composting toilets, and mini hot dogs abound in this dark comedy by Stephen Belber. A seemingly ordinary boys’ night out turns sour when a stranger forces two friends to delineate boundaries between loyalty, conviction, and betrayal.
FILTHY TALK FOR TROUBLED TIMES - Celebrated playwright Neil LaBute’s earliest work. This was actually Neil LaBute’s first major work, but it has never been performed in the UK before. At a seedy bar in Anytown, USA, the frank exchanges between everymen (and everywomen) explore the innumerable varieties of American intolerance. 
GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES - by 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph (produced in association with Rogue Machine Theatre) From missing eyes to broken hearts, this darkly humorous drama by Rajiv Joseph highlights the intersections of two star-crossed lives as they chart a 30-year course 

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Matthew Lillard: It’s an interesting question because we haven’t created these pieces, we’ve created the opportunity. Meaning we’ve taken over a space, created our own theatre in that space and now we’re producing seven shows over the run of the Fringe. So creating the opportunity has inspired this adventure.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Personally it has been a life-long dream to be a part of this festival. I’ve known about the Fringe since I was in High School and to finally participate in it is hugely rewarding. Also, it’s given me an opportunity to direct two European premieres, written by two fantastic American playwrights, which is thrilling.

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
All three of our full length shows are tight, potent shows that will push your buttons and make you laugh. I also feel they’re very unapologetic in their “American” tone and approach... for whatever that’s worth. And fun. They’re a fun time... a notion that’s sometimes forgotten when doing “theatre”.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Filthy Talk for Troubled Times is Neil LaBute’s first play and I think it gives you an interesting perspective on where he started as a writer as compared to the writer he’s grown into — one of the most popular American playwrights ever. This play is a first step in a movement of theatre that Neil was at the forefront of — the unmasking of the inner thoughts of normal people on stage, out loud and unapologetic. The play leaves the audience to sit with unprotected, horrible musings of “normal “people. 

Stephen Belber’s play Fault Lines examines relationships that bend over time. I think it’s an un-mined landscape that leaves you challenging how you stand in your own life and how you define your personal relationships.

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 trained at Circle in the Square in the early nineties and I think the artist I have become was born from my teachers and classmates there, primarily my mentor Alan Langdon. I also had a teacher very early in my life, Gary Krinke, who preached that theatre should be fun and I think I apply that in my approach to directing. I believe that to compete with the new world order — film, television, the all-powerful smart phone — you need to create an enjoyable experience.

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?
My process is to allow the actors to be a part of unravelling what the story is and how best to deliver it. I don’t appreciate directors that approach the work with all the answers figured out, excluding anyone else’s process or interpretation. I fully subscribe to the notion that the collective brain is bigger and brighter than a singular vision born from deliberate thought and in a vacuum. I openly admit that I don’t have all the answers at the outset of a production but by the time we finish, collectively, we’ll discover the play and present it with our, specific interpretation.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
A director’s only job is to deliver the words and intentions of the writer in a way that people find interesting. What the audience does when the lights come up, what lands in their head, what they think about the next day on their way to work is up to them. That is their privilege.

Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you? 
I’m not sure I know what dramaturgy means — I always thought it pertained to the creation of the the text — but I love the questions. Thank you for the opportunity to think about art and why I’m here... 

Venue: Basic Mountain

Fault Lines: Aug 6th-31st 
Aug 6: 20.00 (21.30) – Free Ticketed
Aug 7, 10, 17, 22, 24, 31: 20.00 (21.30) - £13.00/ £10.00
Aug 9, 27-28: 15.00 (16.30) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 12, 20: 17.00 (18.30) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 14, 23, 30: 13.00 (14.30) - £10.00/ £8.00
Aug 15-16, 21, 26, 29: 18.00 (19.30) - £13.00/ £10.00

Filthy Talk for Troubled Times: Aug 6th–31st
Aug 6: 18.00 (19.30) – Free Ticketed
Aug 8, 13, 15-16, 21, 26, 30: 20.00 (21.30) - £13.00/ £10.00
Aug 9, 22, 31: 13.00 (14.30) - £10.00/ £8.00
Aug 12, 20, 23: 15.00 (16.30) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 14, 28: 17.00 (18.30) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 17: 16.00 (17.30) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 19, 24: 18.00 (19.30) - £13.00/ £10.00
Aug 29: 15.30 (17.00) - £12.00/ £10.00

Gruesome Playground Injuries: Aug 5th – 31st 
Aug 5: 18.00 (19.25) – Free Ticketed
Aug 7, 22, 30: 17.00 (18.25) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 9, 27: 18.00 (19.25) - £13.00/ £10.00
Aug 10, 13, 16, 19, 26: 15.00 (16.25) - £12.00/ £10.00
Aug 12, 14, 20, 23, 28: 20.00 (21.25) - £13.00/ £10.00
Aug 15, 21, 29: 13.00 (14.25) - £10.00/ £8.00
Aug 31: 15.30 (16.45) - £12.00/ £10.00
Phantom Owl are also presenting additional short runs at Basic Mountain.

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