Monday, 27 June 2016

Come With Dramaturgy: Helen Duff @ Edfringe 2016

at the Pleasance Courtyard 
Fringe First-nominated Duff takes her audience on an 'absolutely shameless, boldly ridiculous, embarrassingly funny journey' to achieve the sexiest climax of the festival. Expect to be aroused, amused and a little frightened by the lengths she'll go to achieve her first big O...

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I've never had an orgasm so I thought dressing as a sperm, creating an online survey all about sex, then recreating a giant orgasm with an audience, might be fun.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
To start with it was just me, sperming about and getting smashed to bits by Ginger Nuts. Then Tom Parry (one third of sketch legends Pappy's) came on board to help shape my quest towards ultimate pleasure.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I studied acting at LAMDA, but you never get put up for the kind of parts I make for myself (unsurprisingly!) so I headed to L'Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris then worked with the amazing Bristol based clown teacher Holly Stoppit, to feel more free fooling about on stage.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
I gig a lot on the open mic circuit and audiences loved being chatted up by a sperm - even when I compare a one night stand to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - so I knew I was onto something.

What do you hope that the audience will
Ultimate pleasure of course!

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The show sounds confronting and I know from personal experience that there can be a lot of shame associated with talking openly about sex, so it's been amazing to  see how enthusiastically women, men, couples, even my parents (!) respond to the stupidity and irreverence of the work. It's a really liberating show and that's clear when  everyone goes bananas (quite literally) in the orgasm at the end.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Clowning takes lots of different forms but the fundamental idea running through all the people whose work I admire - Lucy Hopkins, Dan Lees, Spencer Jones - is the connection with their audience. Whatever you've planned to do, if you're not playful and alive to what's in the room, I'd rather be watching YouTube.

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