Saturday, 18 June 2016

Dusty Dramaturgy's Sound and Fury: Frank Tamburin and Natasha Pring @ Edfringe 2016

The Honorable East End Company presents

The most famous foley artist you’ve never heard of… Dusty Horne.

It’s 1963.  The father of sound on film, Jack Foley, has inspired a generation of ‘foley artists’, pioneers upon the landscape of cinema history.  Dusty Horne is not one of them.  

A laugh-out-loud aural extravaganza, Dusty Horne’s Sound and Fury is a journey through the magic of sound on film. From Hitchcock masterpieces to the B-movie fare of Roger Corman, you’ll hear thunderclaps, gunshots, broken glass and breaking hearts – and if you’re lucky, a hideous shriek from the odd crab monster or two.

Watch – and even join in – as Dusty live-syncs dancing footsteps, murderous knife-slashes and creaking pirate ships with her rag-tag collection of madcap props, in a show which is bizarrely believable, innovative and triumphantly enjoyable. 

Will Dusty keep her cool?  What does a radioactive spider sound like?  And should disaster strike and destroy her precious sound-reels (this may happen), will you, gentle audience, help to save her life’s work and salvage her foundering career? 

Experience the subtle madness of this rarely-witnessed performance art, as Dusty moves like a dancer, drinks like a fish and bares her soul on her quest for artistic immortality. You’ll never listen to film the same way again…

A laugh-out-loud aural extravaganza, Dusty Horne’s Sound and Fury is a madcap journey through the magic of sound on film, guided by the most famous foley artist you never heard of, Dusty Horne. From Hitchcock classics to B-movie clangers, Dusty and her collection of madcap props will present your favourite films as you’ve never heard them before.  

The questionnaire answers below come from Dusty creators, Frank Tamburin and Natasha Pring. We didn’t mean to write them into some sort of faux-interview. That just happened! 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
FT: A dream! Almost. I was asleep on the plane back from the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – we’d been casting for a BBC Comedy Pilot that didn’t make it, but we’d had a real blast and been properly inspired. 

So I’m asleep, and Natasha, aka Dusty Horne, woke me up: what about a live foley show? To rewind a second, foley (live sound effects) had been on our radar for a while. I’m a bit of a film nerd and Natasha had done a production of Under Milk Wood helmed by our director, Kath Rogers, in which Tash played a foley artist. 

We’d talked about doing something with foley but it never seemed to coagulate until the Fringe, when Natasha got hit by the thunderbolt. 

NP: We’d been brain-storming ideas while up there on crumpled serviettes, drawing inspiration from our favourite shows. I guess the Fringe is the perfect caffeinator for creativity!

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
FT: Kath was a natural fit as director having been involved in Dusty’s spiritual awakening as it were. I knew Kath socially but had never worked with her before – we met about Dusty in The Stockpot in Soho, sadly now closed, and Kath completely ‘got’ the character and play. And the awesome Ruth Sullivan! Our foley guru. 

I never tire of telling people about working with Ruth, she’s been brilliant (Ruth Sullivan III on iMDB if you’re interested). Ruth’s list of film and stage credits is intimidating but she’s the loveliest person you could meet, and an absolutely wicked foley artist. There are some lovely pics on our website of Ruth working with Tash to get her up to speed on all the foley in the play. Basically Natasha is now an unofficial foley artist herself. 

NP: It was crazy, after hearing about Ruth but not knowing how to get in touch with her, one afternoon I was working around Fitzrovia, when I randomly started a conversation with two complete strangers on their fag break, who happened to own a post-production company – and happened to know Ruth! It was one of those synchronistic Twilight Zone moments. They put us in touch and the rest is history as they say. 

We’re also delighted to have the fantastic Edmund Digby-Jones joining us as Dusty’s dutiful sound technician, Nicholas. Edmund’s done some incredible work and we’re really excited to have him on board. Rehearsals kick off in a few days for our RADA Festival previews, can’t wait to get started with him!

How did you become interested in making performance?
FT: I started out doing theatre at school, acting then directing. Same at university. I’ve never ‘grown out’ of performance of some description, be it theatre or film. I worked as a stage carpenter after I graduated uni and I remember my gaffer telling me it was time to decide whether this was going to be my career or my hobby. I’m still never quite sure if I made that decision yet! Next up is something film-wise though I think – though of course this play has a lot of cinema running through it.  

NP: I guess a similar journey to Frank really, theatre studies and Drama School. I grew up in Bristol, which has an amazing theatre scene with companies like Knee High and Gecko regularly at the Bristol Old Vic. In fact, it was working at the BOV Ferment Festival where I first met Kath! In the main though I think I’m just incredibly lucky to be surrounded by creative people who have shown me that you can make things happen for yourself. I think I’m sort of attracted to those people. 

We encourage and inspire each other, and when you have a good idea there’s nothing like seeing it come to life. It’s the most fun ever. We went to see Complicite’s The Encounter recently, which for me is the epitome of what you can do with sound and storytelling. Simon McBurney’s a bloody genius. When I grow up I’d like to be him. 

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
FT: Inspiration. Procrastination. Panic. Repeat. Yes, I’d say so. 
NP: Ha ha, yeah luckily we seem to procrastinate at different times. Lots of reading, lots of watching films, etc, only this time I’d say we watched over a hundred movies, at least! Looking out for movie scenes for the play that had opportunities to make cool sound effects. 

It was an exciting education in itself and I’ve sort of fallen in love with the whole B-Movie genre and what it represents. As Frank said, I had to learn Foley, and as well as working with Ruth got to hang out with the amazing team at Universal Sound who actually knew the grand dame of British foley, Beryl Mortimer (whom Dusty Horne is partly inspired by), and spent a lot of time watching (and hearing) them put sounds to various TV shows which was very cool. 

There’s something just mesmerizing about watching foley. They were doing Marcella when I was there recently and even let me have a go at Anna Friel’s footsteps. Yes they did give me notes. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
FT: It’d be lovely if they look at – and I suppose listen to – film a little differently. Most of all this play is a bit of a love letter to film and the artists who work behind the scenes, a celebration of that (often bonkers) existence. I love the idea that a conversation between friends creates a show – which turns into more conversations between friends. That’s always the buzz, and the overall goal.

NP: Totally. And foley is such a magical thing. So for the audience to experience some of that child-like magic. For us to have shared an experience and come away feeling a little more connected to something greater than ourselves. And yes, to have had a bloody good time.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
FT: Like we said, foley is really cool to watch and hear being performed, so we already had that rich seam to mine. Increasingly foley is appearing in stage plays but we knew we wanted to combine that with films. The Hitchcock Estate has very kindly given us permission to play with some of the master’s films, as has Roger Corman. So we get to explore some familiar movies in a new way, with chances for the audience, along with Dusty, to ‘remake’ some classic movie moments. Surprise and delight, those were our watchwords – I don’t want to give too much away though! You’ll have to come see the show. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
FT: Only the tradition of getting off your arse and doing it. We can all be guilty of wasting a lot of time waiting for permission. The great thing about theatre, and especially the Fringe, is that everybody just thought: this’d be a cool idea for a show. And then did it. 

To bring Dusty Horne to life, writer Frank Tamburin (Under Offer, Dave Shakespeare) and actor and co-creator Natasha Pring (The Love Project, Wraps) have studied foley techniques with Universal Sound studio and have been mentored by the fantastic, Emmy award-winning foley artist and performer Ruth Sullivan (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Dickensian, Downton Abbey, ENO’s The Magic Flute). Directed by Katharine Rogers.

Dusty Horne’s Sound and Fury
The Honorable East End Company

Queen Dome, The Pleasance

2.30pm (60mins)

3 – 5 (£6.50); 16, 22, 23, 29 (£8.50 (£7.50); 10 & 11, 17 & 18, 24 & 25 (£10 (£8.50)); 6 – 9, 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28 (£11 (£10))

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