Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Dashing Dramaturgy: Jenna Watt explains how...

Jenna Watt presents

How You Gonna Live Your Dash

A co-production with Platform & in association with Showroom

The latest thought provoking production from Jenna Watt, one of Scotland’s most visionary theatre makers. Following on from her award-winning production Flâneurs, this shattering piece explores the life-altering decisions we make in order to get the most out of our time on earth.

Based on real life testimonies and featuring beautiful pyrotechnic effects, this epic performance looks at the moment people choose to detonate their own lives, the smokey fall out and how they piece together a new future.

From giving up a high-flying career, confronting an addiction and dropping it all to move to a new continent, How You Gonna Live Your Dash looks at how people live their lives and the momentous decisions they make.

A departure from her solo work, How You Gonna Live Your Dash is a two hander performed by Jenna Watt and Ashley Smith (Scot Squad, Butterfly, Uncle Varik, The Sash). Pyrotechnics play a significant role in the production and are fired by Jenna and Ashley as part of the show.

Where did the process for Dash begin for you?
It began one afternoon about three years ago when I watched Werner Herzog's documentary Into the Abyss.  It was here that I first heard the phrase 'how you gonna live your dash' and within the context of the documentary, and at that point in my life it felt very pertinent.  I remember quickly scribbling the phrase down on a post it and putting it on my wall, and thinking that's my next performance work.

Would you describe your work as within any particular tradition - or are there artists you recognise as working in similar areas?
I would describe it as contemporary performance with a live art influence.  My works tend to start out life as pieces of live art before they're shaped into works of contemporary performance for theatre spaces.

What kind of response are you hoping to get from the audience?
A contemplative one.

And are there any particular strategies that you have used towards this end?
Our pyrotechnic effects have a particular quality that allow space for an audience to be reflective.

Is Dash  typical of the way that you make work?
In some respects, for example it's previously been staged as a live art installation at Buzzcut Festival and I've worked with a dramaturg.  However, this project has received support from Creative Scotland in its development and production, which has made the making of the performance quite different. It's allowed me to surround myself with a supportive team, and open up my practice to more collaborators, which I've really enjoyed.

How far does the content of Dash  determine the performance format?
I would say the aesthetic of the smoke effects has determined more of the performance format than anything else, because I knew before I'd finished writing the show what it would look like visually.  

So much of the performance format has been influenced by how to frame the pyro effects.

What made you feel that performance was a good medium for your art?
It's live.

Jenna Watt is an award-winning writer and theatre maker based in Glasgow. Jenna is best known for creating work that explores socio-political issues using real life testimonies as source material. Jenna’s work includes: Remote by Stef Smith (Macrobert Young Company/National Theatre Connections), Parents Be Like (Macrobert Young Company), Flâneurs (co-production with Capital Arts), It’s Okay It’s Only Temporary and Little Vikings Are Never Lost.

In 2012, Jenna was awarded a Scotsman Fringe First for her production Flâneurs during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it then toured around the UK in 2012 and 2013.

In 2015, Jenna was awarded a Flying Solo Award from Contact, Manchester and is currently on an artist attachment with the National Theatre of Scotland to make a new work about Faslane in summer 2016.

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