Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A Dramaturgical C ----: Gary Kitching @ Ovalhouse

Me & Mr C is about the ventriloquist dummy inside your head who sees all you see, knows all you know, hears all you hear and sometimes, if you are very unlucky, tells you what he thinks of it all. Gary Kitching is an improviser, actor and comedian and Me and Mr C is his funny and disturbing rendering of what it is like to have a voice in your head. Mr C sits inside your head and watches.  

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Gary Kitching: I always wanted to do a solo show and expected the best playwright in the world to be inspired by me as a performer and write me one, but they didn't. So I thought I better make my own.

I'd been doing loads of improvisation and comedy and word got to Northern Stage that I had a show and they asked if I would like to perform in their scratch night. I agreed even though I had no idea what I was going to do. I had a month to prepare and did nothing until the week before. Then I quickly realised I had no idea how to write a show. So I decided to improvise it.
The basic idea I had was that there would be a man (me) and his dummy (Mr C) and he would be lonely and there would be stand up. I then had a few impro games to play and that was it, so the show developed on stage in front of an audience. 

The show is about depression, I had some therapy and one of the things I had to do was name the negative voice in my head. It's name was Mr C**t. So that's what I have in my mind when I start the show. Mr C represents that negative voice in my head.

How did you go about the collaboration for the show?

After I had developed the show in front of an audience , after maybe 5 or 6 performances I was invited to do the show as part of Greyscale's Theatre Brothel at Northern Stage. Through that I met Selma Dimitrijevic and Lorne Campbell. I knew the show needed direction before it went to Edinburgh so I asked if they would be interested which thankfully they were, but unfortunately the funding I had applied for was turned down so we only had a very limited amount of time to work on it. 

After Edinburgh in 2012 I decided I had gone as far as I could with it and forgot about it and decided to make another show, the problem was I still felt slightly frustrated with it as I felt it hadn't reached its full potential. Fast forward to the end of 2014 and Selma and I had worked on my other show Dead To Me

She asked me what I wanted to do and I talked about Me and Mr C; within an hour Selma had put together a touring pack and it was back on. 

Selma had also recently seen a show directed by Alex Swift called Fat Man. I'd worked with Alex on a couple of R&D's and we got on really well, I felt with Selma as producer and Dramaturg and Alex as Director the show could become what I felt it had never achieved.

What made you decide to work with Ovalhouse?

I knew it was a place that supported interesting and experimental work. I also wanted to bring it to London. I'm really grateful to everybody there as they have made me feel really appreciated and welcome. I feel we have a good show at a good venue. Happy days.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?

This process was unique to the type of show I wanted to create. I have no idea if I will create another improvised one man show, it's unlikely. The other show I created started with a conventional process of script writing and a couple of scratch performances. The next show might have a totally different approach. Who knows?

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope the audience will realise they are experiencing something
unique to them and that night. I hope they will laugh, a lot. I hope they will be moved. 

I hope they will think about the work afterwards. Or if none of that happens I hope they feel like that haven't wasted their money and that at least they've had a good night out.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

I suppose the tradition of improvisational theatre is there in this show. As for others I'm not sure. I hope people find my work funny, dark, interesting challenging and entertaining. I'm not sure what tradition of theatre that is. 

I'll go for the tradition of "Good Theatre". I'd like to hope/think it occasionally falls into that tradition.

Are there any other questions that might help me to understand the meaning of dramaturgy for you in your work?

I don't know. I'm not that good at analysing my work so I rely on much cleverer people to do that for me. Essentially Selma and Alex in this case. They both have an understanding of theatre that seems like magic to me.

Gary Kitching is an improviser, actor and comedian and Me and Mr. C is his funny and disturbing rendering of what it is like to have a voice in your head that explains to you with authority, purpose and well referenced arguments, that you are a worthless piece of shit. An experience some of you may be able to sympathise with.

Director: Alex Swift
Lighting Design: Katharine Williams
Writer/Performer: Gary Kitching
Producer & Dramaturg: Selma Dimitrijevic

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