Friday, 10 June 2016

Stacked Dramaturgy: Ed MacArthur @ Edfrinnge 2016

August 3rd-28th (not 16th)
Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49)

Award-winning actor/writer Ed MacArthur, co-creator and star of DugOut Theatre’s fringe smash hit Inheritance Blues, brings his hotly anticipated (and very silly) debut show to the Bedlam Theatre for the Edinburgh Fringe 2016.

Mixing an original score with live music and comedy, the play follows Stackard Banks, celebrity explorer, on a madcap Amazonian expedition to find a lost Tribe. But what he discovers will change his world.


What was the inspiration for this performance? 
Stack was inspired by an autobiography of explorer Ranulph Fiennes. I found his flippant attitude to death and disaster very amusing, and his madcap personality very compelling. After that I was keen to base a play on the unusual personality of the modern celebrity explorer. The tone and style of the show was inspired by a mishmash of different shows I'd seen up at the fringe. There's a heady atmosphere at the fringe, and the show was written with that in mind. 

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 
I co-founded DugOut Theatre in 2010 with George Chilcott, DugOut's Artistic Director, so it made sense for us to work together. We've slowly been building an audience at the fringe over the last six years, so I'm fortunate to be able to draw on DugOut's experience. 

I used to do sketch comedy with Annie McGrath from Twins, who's hilarious, so I asked if she would like to be involved, and since then, we've started working with a sound designer called Max Perryment and an animator called Stan Orwin-Fraser, who we got in touch with through mutual friends. It's a lethal, potentially life-threatening, combination of talents. 

How did you become interested in making performance? 
I studied at Leeds University. I met George on a bus in first year and we soon started making lots of shows. I'd always been interested in getting involved in performing, but lacked the confidence to put myself forward, so effectively rode on his coat-tails for three years. 

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance? 
It's new writing, it's comedic, and it's written for the fringe, so in that way it's typical of the way we work. But what's been refreshing is that there are only two of us in the cast, and we're all on the same page, so progress gets made more quickly than with larger groups. If I have an idea, I only have to get it past two other people, not ten. Which, thinking about it, could be disastrous. But it's too late now. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 
Hopefully they'll find it familiar but original. It's a hybrid of comedy, story-telling, music and theatre, that ideally people will find both silly and impressive at the same time. Like coral reef. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 
There's been a lot of focus on the technical side; the surround sound and animation. We've built the world of the play by using over 100 sound cues and want to give the audience a really professional show. The higher the production value contrasts quite nicely with the silliness of the script, which hopefully makes it more funny for the audience...

Do you see your work within any particular tradition? 
I think there's always been stuff at the fringe that sits somewhere between comedy and theatre. People like Will Adamsdale have been doing it for years, and many sketch groups are now heading in a more theatrical direction. The great thing is that if people don't laugh, I'll just call it theatre.

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