Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Mule Dramaturgy: Kat Woods @ Edfringe

Inspired by the real life story of the Peru Two 

Inspired by the topical and real events of the Peru Two, Mule explores the murky, hedonistic world of drug smuggling and its apparent female-isation.

How does the seemingly innocent adventure of a summer spent in the party capital of the world spiral out of control and end locked up in a notoriously hard-core South American prison?

Mule is writer and director Kat Woods’ third Edinburgh Fringe outing, critically-acclaimed for previous works, Belfast Boy and Wasted, she’s back for 2016 by special invitation with her newest show at the prestigious Gilded Balloon.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The inspiration can be broken into two parts for me. I can remember hearing about Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid a few years back when they were first arrested. To be honest, I had read some rather nasty comments about the pair and it got me thinking. 

Where as a people has our humanity gone? Why are we so quick to judge others? I have a younger sister, she is twelve years my junior and I have always felt a fierce sense of protection for her. These girls are more or less the same age as her. My gut feeling has always been that they made a mistake, albeit a huge mistake and maybe one that you or I would not make; however, it is a mistake and one that they will pay for for the rest of their lives.  

The second half of my interest spiralled from the apparent lack of awareness for consequence on the girls behalf coupled with the looming 'femalisation' of the drug smuggling industry. Why these girls, what has happened to them how have they changed? 

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I really want to write here that I did something really cool like the Anchorman scene where Ron Burgundy shouts "Team assemble" and they all come running. Alas, I would just be calling myself as  I write, direct and part produce!

I am an associate writer with Omnibus Theatre in London and have had my award winning play Belfast Boy on at their venue. I wanted somewhere to stage an early preview performance of 'Mule' so that I could get the script ship shape for the Ed Fringe. Basically, a show to see how bad it is, so that I can fix it in time for August! 

The team at Omnibus Theatre have been fantastic, headed by Marie McCarthy with Diana Whitehead and Felicity Paterson. They have now come on board as producers, which is amazing. With Omnibus on board I was able to utilise valuable rehearsal space and cast the play. Mule is a two hander which showcases the wonderful talents of Edith Poor and Aoife Lennon. Both actresses have developed their roles and worked tremendously hard on the piece. I am very proud that they are a part of this work. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

Sociology was actually my degree of choice when I finished my A Levels. Although, I have always been somewhat of a storyteller, it was never on the agenda at the all girls Roman Catholic Convent Grammar that I attended. Which is such a shame. It was an ex boyfriends mum who suggested that I study some type of Drama course. She scared me. So, I did a Drama degree. And that's how it all began! I initially trained as a Director but couldn't find anything that I wanted to direct so I decided to write for myself so that I could employee myself to direct! 

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

To put it simply, yes. For all my plays I like to write and re-write until I get it right! I guess because I try so hard to become a different person when directing its almost like I become the harshest critic. My own works worst enemy is actually me!  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Mule is inspired by the events of The Peru Two. With any of my work I want the subject matter of this play to stay with the audience I want to educate those in a way that feels less lecture orientated. I want the audience, especially in this particular case, to think about their actions. Could that be your Sister, Brother, Mother etc...

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I don't really consider strategies to shaping the audience experience, for me, that would feel contrived. I think the job of the writer or theatre maker is to let the work be what it is and speak for itself.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I just want other people to see my work and hope that it breaks the current trend towards the tradition of watching reality TV! 

I like to break down that forth wall, so maybe, not completely In Your Face but standing very close to ones face.  

The story of the Peru Two first caught Irish-born writer Woods attention in 2013 when the girls hit the headlines and were vilified in the press. Recent developments in their case have pulled this timely play into sharp focus. Woods’ vivid imagination skillfully weaves a cautionary tale of manipulation and betrayal - a must-see at Edinburgh Fringe 2016.
When: 3 – 29 Aug  (excl. 17)
Where: Gilded Balloon, The Balcony
Time: 1.30pm, running time 55 mins
Ticket price: Mon-Thu £10, Fri-Sun £11, £8 

About Omnibus
Omnibus is Clapham's premier multi-arts venue in London, housed in a converted Victorian Library, and offering a vibrant programme of theatre, music and visual arts. Inspired by the building’s literary heritage, the Omnibus programme focuses on retelling classic tales with a contemporary twist. As a multi-arts venue, Omnibus is committed to combining art forms to discover new artistic vocabularies and providing vital support for emerging artists to create new work within the building.

The Omnibus team is led by artistic director Marie McCarthy. Patrons include Sir Michael Gambon, Matthew Warchus and Richard Eyre.


About Kat Woods
Kat Woods joined Omnibus’ stable of Associate Writers in 2015.

Growing up on a council estate in Enniskillen, County Fermanah, Northern Ireland, and having had her fair share of adversity along the way, Woods says her background has undeniably shaped and informed her writing. She is drawn to narratives that reflect real life struggles. 

Her authentic style has won her a string of awards and critical acclaim. Woods moved to London six years ago to study theatre directing, turning to writing when she couldn’t find directing work that she was passionate about.

2016: Mule; The Peggy Ramsey Award
2015: Wasted; The Peggy Ramsey Award; Selected for the Encore series Soho Playhouse New York (Best of Edinburgh)
2015: Belfast Boy; Longlisted Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award; Selected for the Tampere Fringe Finland (Best of Edinburgh); Winner: Stage Award for Acting Excellence
2014: Belfast Boy; Winner: Fringe Review Award for Outstanding Theatre

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