Saturday, 25 June 2016

One Day Dramturgy: Tim Carlsen @ Edfringe 2016

One Day Moko
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) ​ 15:45 Aug 3-14, 16-21, 23-29

Life's never a dull moment when you live one day at a time spend some time with him. Inspired by real encounters with people living on the streets, One Day Moko investigates how rebellion, opportunity and routine shape our everyday lives. One performer builds a city from a suitcase of worldly possessions. Take a tour and discover Moko's haunts and secret places. Wake up and smell the baked beans.
What was the inspiration for this performance?

It all started back in 2008. My mum sent me a newspaper article that she thought I'd be interested in, it was accompanied by a small note that read, 'Hope you're having a lovely day. Here's something that made my heart swell'. It was a story about a homeless man, 'Moko' who would travel to Auckland City (New Zealand) everyday by pushbike and spend all day busking on his clarinet. 

He built a custom made bike carrier for his dog, 'Mana' to travel with him for company. He would do this every day, rain hail or shine. The photo that accompanied the article had him posing with his dog and clarinet - grinning from ear to ear. I was playing the trumpet at the time so this really resonated with me. 

I’ve always been curious about those who live on the fringe of society and ended up on the streets. Did they choose to live this way? How do they see the world around them? Do they have a daily routine? And more importantly, how do they survive?

With a mind full of questions, a newspaper article buried into my brain and some very 'green' ideas of homelessness I started to develop a solo show as part of my final year year of actor training at Toi Whakaari the New Zealand Drama School in 2009. Initial research for the show included working as a volunteer at organisations such as the Catacombs Drop-in (Wellington City) and the Compassion Soup Kitchen (Auckland City Mission). From homeless football games to participating in the mission drama group, I was able to get an insight into the New Zealand homeless lifestyle and develop ties with a range of homeless clients. 

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

The show has been supported by a number of theatre practitioners since the shows first draft performance in 2009. I'm always asking myself, 'What does this show need and who can help deliver this?' This has been the basis of who I approach to get onboard. The current director, Leo Gene Peters was someone I'd meet through drama school. We discovered we had similar values around making work and what we like to see on stage. 

Our producer, Louise Gallagher saw the show two years ago and was moved by what she experienced. Louise approached me and offered to support the producing side of the show, as well as becoming my mentor. Louise’s dedicated and enduring support is rare. All the show’s marketing design that you see on the Portable Union social accounts and website is thanks to my brother, Danny Carlsen. Finally, my partner Tai Berdinner-Blades is covering many different roles from girlfriend to stage manger to all-round 'go to' person. We met when the show toured to Wellington and she came along with a bunch of her friends, I guess you could say Moko made an impression on her and the rest is history. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

My time at drama school opened my mind to the possibilities of making theatre. Drama school had a huge ethos around 'making your own work' and these values were offered to us through our brilliant tutors. I guess it was the first time I could express and unleash my 'taste' in what I wanted to see onstage and this has empowered me to graduate drama school and hone my skill in making theatre. 

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

One Day Moko has been developed and presented numerous times since I finished drama school in 2009. The show has gone through two major 'versions' during this time, starting out as a linear narrative that relied heavily on audio visual elements (AV), to a work that is very much non-linear, has no AV and is highly interactive with the audience. The thing that has remained constant is Moko, the work has always been about him. This is Portable Union's premier work so every step in the process included huge learning curves and many pitfalls. I started this process by asking myself "What am I curious about in the world right now?" and "What excites me in this moment?" I used such questions to kick-start my making process alongside any ideas or inspiration I might already have brewing (such as the newspaper article my mum had given me back in 2008). 


Research played a huge part of my process from talking to people to watching films and reading books that might relate to the territory I'm interested in. I was researching not only 'homelessness' but also other areas to inform the design, performance style and tone of the show; from Spaghetti Western Films to local TV presenters to Karaoke clubs in Auckland's infamous red light district, 'K Rd'. 

I originally dabbled a lot with lo-fi technology such as video to support the storytelling of the show. I was inspired a lot by the work of the Wooster Group - a New york based theatre company who experiment with video and other sources of technology alongside performance. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of months with them during an internship that was part of my final year at drama school. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?


I hope the audience will experience a journey of self-reflection on what it is to be human. This is not a show that is trying to resolve or preach about a social issue. Being human can be hard, awkward, joyful, painful, pleasurable, confusing; the problem is I don't think we often get to tell ourselves that it's "okay" to go through these multitudes of emotions without feeling like we want to give up. The show has become less about 'homeless' as a concept and rather about a man with a mission to shine light on humanity. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We wanted to create the feeling that this show is a conversation between Moko (the protagonist)  and the audience. Moko interacts with the audience throughout the show, through games and play. This gives him the ability to check-in with the audience, to get a gauge on where they're at and how it's all landing with them. 

We recognise that audience interaction can be awkward, scary and hard at first, often mirroring the experience of how we relate to those living on the streets. The participation that we ask from our audience members is not about alienation or making them feel like a fool, but asking them to engage in a conversation, a game and overall an event that will hopefully make them feel more human by the time they leave the theatre. 


Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

Through making One Day Moko we've drawn from traditional theatre forms such as clown and bouffon. 

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