Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A Series of Unfortunate Dramaturgies: Lucy Burke @ Edfringe 2016

A Series of Unfortunate Breakups

3rd - 29th August (not 16th) @19.30
C Nova (Studio 5)

Written by Lucy Burke
Directed by Peter Taylor

Finding love is pretty hard. It's even harder if your soulmate is a global superstar who doesn't actually know you exist...

Fresh from sell out London shows, and presented by a cast of recent graduates of top London drama schools, watch as three couples try and fail to battle their way through the modern world of sex and dating with disastrous results in this new comedy about love, lust and all of the dreaded, murky grey areas in between.

In this the age of tinder, online dating and social
media galore it seems there are more ways than ever to meet the potential one. So why is it still so difficult? In fact, why does is now seem harder than ever to negotiate our way through the pitfalls of 21st century dating?

Look on in horror at the hilarity that ensues as three couples bumble their way through a series of doomed relationships and even worse breakups. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to cover your eyes; If you think your love life’s bad, it could be worse, you could be them!

Interview questions answered by Lucy Burke, company director of Some Riot Theatre and writer of A Series of Unfortunate Breakups

What was the inspiration for this performance?

My awful love life. Initially anyway. I think it’s good to write about personal experiences, not only is it extremely cathartic from a totally selfish point of view but often real life experiences, especially ones to do with love and heartbreak as is often the case with my work, can be universal and so it’s a good way of ensuring that what you’re writing about is relatable to an audience of your contemporaries.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

When I graduated from drama school last Summer I struggled with what to do next; I didn’t feel in control of my career or choices and noticed that a lot of my peers seemed to be feeling the same way. I set up Some Riot Theatre to provide what I believe is a much needed support system for emerging artists coming out of drama school. I contacted people who were in the same position as me, invited them to a read through around my kitchen table and promised I’d buy them a beer if they came; from there we developed into the company we are today and I’m proud to have been able to create opportunity not only for myself but for my peers too.

How did you become interested in making performance?

When I was about 15 I discovered devising, improvising and the art of creating your own performance. Everything clicked for me. I pursued it further, entering playwriting competitions (and somehow having success), writing pieces for A Level and taking part in local writing festivals. By the time I was 18 I knew it was something I wanted to pursue seriously and began to believe that maybe I could, or that I could at least give it a good go. Since then I’ve been writing continuously. In my third year at drama school we had the daunting task of putting on an industry showcase, a terrifying experience whereby each actor gets about 30 seconds of stage time to impress an audience of industry insiders; I wrote monologues and short scenes for my peers to read out during showcase rehearsals but that I actually ended up incorporating into A Series of Unfortunate Breakups instead!

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

Actually no. In the past I’ve worked a lot with using improvisation and devising during rehearsals and creating a script around these ideas. A Series of Unfortunate Breakups was different because it was just me and my computer, typing into the early hours of the morning and rewriting it the next day. I think when you create a piece of theatre in that way you have to be careful because there’s no one there to prevent you from being too hard on yourself and your ideas; there’s no one there to tell you when to stop or alternatively to encourage you to keep going. When it came to rehearsals however we’ve had a really collaborative environment which I think has worked really well. Peter Taylor our director, who has recently graduated from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts directing course, is exceptional in the way that he makes the team feel comfortable under his leadership but at the same time is generous in accepting ideas from the rest of the team and I think it’s in that kind of environment that great theatre is made and great relationships are formed within the company.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Laughter, primarily. It’s a comedy after all and a pretty silly one at that. But also a sense that they can relate to what they are seeing onstage in some shape or form. The show explores a variety of different characters, their search for love and connection in the modern world and more over what to do next when that search doesn’t go to plan, as is often the case in life.
Yes, it’s silly, yes I’ve stretched some of my personal experiences a tad but what’s important to me is that at the heart of all that there is an undeniable truth to each character’s struggles throughout the play, it’s exposing, sometimes uncomfortably honest and it’s human.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

My main strategy was to use humour to highlight the difficulties of achieving true human connection in a modern society. While some of the characters are larger than life I hope that within those characters the audience are able to recognise the mirror that we are holding up to society and the complex issues everyone faces simply trying to create and maintain relationships in day to day life.

Aesthetically we want every aspect of the piece to look as contemporary as possible, similarly the soundtrack we are using employs contemporary artists to constantly remind the audience that while almost tragically comic, the issues explored in the play are ones we all face, overcome and grow from.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

What I see and am encouraged to see is a rise in young graduates like myself and my team, taking control and making their own opportunities. I went to Mountview and I think there are about four different companies coming out of that institution this year, bringing work to the fringe that they have created themselves. I’m very proud of that and it’s a tradition I hope will continue.

The actors of Some Riot Theatre are all recent graduates from top London drama schools including Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Some Riot Theatre are committed to creating and producing new writing that is relevant and accessible to a diverse and contemporary audience, we are also committed to creating opportunities for graduates.


  1. Great synopsis. Erudite and a complete explanation of what it is, what it does and what is it's goal. I expect an audience full of laughs.

  2. Great synopsis. Erudite and a complete explanation of what it is, what it does and what is it's goal. I expect an audience full of laughs.

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