Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Two Kittens & Dramaturgy: Christopher Wilson @ Edfringe 2016

 Two Kittens & A Kid (A Gay Man Raising His Inner Diva)

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) ​ 19:30 Aug 5-6, 8-13, 15-20

A gay, white, suburban man suddenly becomes 'Mr Mom' to an adolescent, black, urban girl. White-knuckled on a roller coaster of teenage angst, this new parent falls off the precipice into the mystery of black hair, menstruation, boyz, and ultimately mental health and addiction. 

Often comedic but always honest, this one-man musical cabaret is a poignant and sometimes heartbreaking story of love, cultural understanding, and desperately trying to find your way!

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Two Kittens & A Kid (A Gay Man Raising His Inner Diva) is a deeply personal and autobiographical story of my parenting journey with a beautiful teenage girl.  As a foster parent, I was forced to negotiate huge emotional challenges, nurturing a child who was victim of substance-abusing parents. 

This piece is an authentic account of caring for an adolescent who
struggles immensely with self-care. I consider this work to be an homage to that dear young woman, though expressed theatrically.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
The creative team is predominantly a team of one, in this particular case with Two Kittens & A Kid.  I am independently writing the book, music and lyrics – quite Quixotic, I'll admit.  In essence, I know clearly what I am striving to express - and am engaging all of my training, instincts and experience to harness the craft to do so.  

I will also be working closely with two dear friends and fellow artists here in Toronto, Canada, for dramaturgical and directing support.  With a one-man show, an outside eye is paramount to me to keep the work authentic and grounded, though stylized.

How did you become interested in making performance?
Having lived through some deeply challenging and profound experiences, I believe that my desire to make performance was born out of a compulsion to express – or better, exorcise my deep inner challenges and demons.  Often, I believe that our most conflicted emotions are better expressed outward rather than held inward.  

I don't mean to express in any way that my writing in this piece is all doom and gloom – quite the contrary.  This new work is layered with frivolity, humour and levity. I must say that I am both intrigued and facinated by the emotional resonance and potential impact that can result, when using one's passion and artform as an expression of personal experience.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Two Kittens & A Kid (A Gay Man Raising His Inner Diva) evolved rather organically in its development.  The autobiographical source material of being a gay, white dad to an adolescent, black girl is an experience of sitcom proportions, in and of itself.  

My parenting journey with my foster daughter was full of nuance, rich in anecdotes, and fierce in emotional challenge.  There was a great deal to write about when it came to expressing both my experiences with her - and my deep compassion for her.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
My ultimate goal is to create a strong emotional bond with the audience - one firmly rooted in honesty.  As most of the material presented in this piece is autobiographical, there is a sense of vulnerability that I strive to achieve and openly share with those willing to walk into my theatrical world.  I am representing myself authentically on the stage – or at least, a thearical version of myself.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
For me, engagement is the number one priority with an audience experience.  I am capiltolizing on the intamcy of this work in its performance space, hoping that the audience will feel comfortable and intrigued being invited into my personal world.  My intention is to encourage the audience to personally engage with me as artist, as they comfortably choose.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
My work is driven by a marriage between spoken and sung word.  Music is ultimately my soul language - so I suppose both this new work and my previous original writing fall into the tradition of musical theatre. Two Kittens & A Kid also possesses a cabaret element in its construct, though the piece is structured with scenes exploring specific themes and subject matter.

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