Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Dramaturgical Journey: Buckle Up @ Edfringe 2016

Award-Winning company, Buckle Up Theatre 
Fast-Paced, Physical Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe!
A series of farcical stories, each ridiculous and occasionally poignant.

Four actors perform a variety of weird and wonderful characters and create a world from minimal set and props using only four chairs and four suitcases.

Each of the characters’ stories is recreated with strong physical characterisation drawn from clowning and Buffon techniques. Using only occasional words and phrases, accompanied by an evocative musical score, they create a piece of theatre that is not only funny, but understandable to anyone no matter what language they speak. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
We were asked to create a piece of theatre suitable for an international audience with a production that could travel anywhere in the world with limited set and technical resources, subsequently Journeys has already been performed in festivals in Belgium, Lithuania and Germany. 

Originally our theme was People on the Move and this quickly got us thinking about refugees and immigrants not only during the present day dramas that we have been hearing about over the past year or so, but refugees from the Great and Second World Wars. Eventually the four stories in Journeys follows the journey of four characters running away and because of its international slant they each originate in a different country with the characters being French. British, Spanish and Italian – a sort of EU on the move.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
The director, Michael Woodwood, wanted a team of physical actors who were also expericed in comedy to perform the piece so he approached Andrew Hollingworth, the Artistic Director of Buckle Up Theatre to take on production of the show as well as inviting Andrew to be in the production as an actor. 

The director had directed Andrew before in Bump which won best production at the Manchester Fringe in 2015 and got four and five star reviews in Edinburgh that year. For the rest of the team Michael and Andrew put together a team of actors that they both had worked with at one stage or other, one of them Mountview trained and the other two E15 trained with Genevieve Dunne also having experience being trained at the Le Coq school in Paris; Le Coq technique being a big influence on Michael Woodwood’s work. 

This same team has now taken the production to three countries and after its success all the original cast members wanted to bring the show to Edinburgh 2016.

How did you become interested in making performance?
We are all professional actors who have been working in the theatre for six years or so. Buckle Up Theatre was formed by three Mountview students, two of whom are appearing in Journeys, Andrew Hollingworth and Rosie Ward, with Genevieve Dunne and Rob Taylor-Hastings training at East 15. Our director, Michael Woodwood, trained at LAMDA as an actor and had directed over twenty-five productions.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Yes and no. In terms of the style, it is a process we are familiar with. Our director will often spend a long time getting the timing right for a particular gag or sequence, or getting us to make the right expression at the exact moment. He also welcomes creative ideas from the cast making it a collaborative process. 

The style of Buckle Up Theatre is based on strong characterisation
and a stage movement that is timed to the second, so we work out a lot of sequences for creative set changes and often we will use a variety of music to suggest time, place and atmosphere. 

The main difference with working on Journeys, as opposed to our previous work, is that there is no set script - no dialogue - just words and occasional phrases. This of course means we need to work harder in order to tell the story. The up side, which I'm sure most actors will appreciate, is that there are no lines to learn prior to rehearsals.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
A very funny show with occasional moments of poignancy. Journeys is a very fast show at times and there are lots of visual jokes along the way, yet every so often there are some very subtle gags. Past audiences have also commented on the varied and inventive ways that we use the minimal set of suitcases and chairs demonstrating how theatre can be created out of nothing.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
To begin with we had to be aware that not all the audience would be able to speak English, so we hope our piece is truly international and can be understood by anybody. What language we do use tends to be well worn phrases, cliché’s, greetings and expressions that can be understood in any language. 

We are also aware that during its lifetime Journeys has been watched by both young and older audiences so the stories and jokes not only travel well between countries but between generations as well. In Edinburgh we know that we’ll be performing to a festival audience that not only has an enormous range of theatre available to see, but that they might want to vary the experience of the type of show they see, so some comedy, a classical, a modern piece, a musical etc, consequently how we market and describe our show is very important – we want the audience to be very sure of what they are getting.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Our director and all of our actors are particularly interested in working in the physical style with strong characterisation, so the work of Jacques Le Coq is very important to us and the traditions of clowning and buffon taught by the Le Coq school. Working with our director we have also become familiar with the work of Jacques Tati; the Tati style of observational comedy and comedy without words.

Journeys has already entertained audiences in
Lithuania, Belgium and Germany as part of international theatre festivals. This year it will also be taking part in the Greater Manchester Fringe (28th-30th July) and Camden Fringe Festival (1st-6th August).

Buckle Up Theatre is quickly emerging as a new and successful company. Last year they took two productions to the Edinburgh Fringe,Bump! and Buckle Up, and received a handful of 4 and 5 star reviews. Bump! participated in the Greater Manchester Fringe and won 'Best Comedy Show' as well as being nominated for 'Best New Writing'.

Venue: Gilded Balloon – Billiard Room
Date: 8th-29th August
Time: 13:15 (60 mins)
Tickets: £9
Venue: Salford Arts Theatre
Date: 28th-30th July
Time: 19:30 (60 mins)
Tickets: £7-£5
0161 925 011
Venue: Tristan Bates Theatre
Date: 1st-6th August
Time: 19:30 (60 mins)
Tickets: £7-£5
020 3841 6611

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