Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dramaturgy of Lies: Chris Cook @ Edfringe 2016

Chris Cook: White Lies
PBH Free Fringe | Voodoo Rooms ­ Ballroom | 13.20 ­ Aug 6- ­28 (not 16)
As a magician, Chris Cook lies for a living. All his life he’s spun a web of deception. But the thing about little white lies is they have a habit of catching up with you. This year Chris lays his secrets bare and shows you behind the magic...
This brand new show is all about challenging the meaning of magic. The show features engaging story­telling, audience participation and astonishing magic tricks. Chris takes the audience on a journey through history as he explores scams, hoaxes and fakes that have fooled the world.
What was the inspiration for this performance?
Magic is a very unusual art form. If you’re a singer, when you sing on stage you are really singing. If you’re a dancer you are really dancing. But if you’re a magician, you’re not really doing magic; you’re just pretending. So the question is why would someone pretend to be magic? 

This is something that I’ve been mulling over for the past year and is the inspiration behind this show. I wanted to research why other people fake things so I looked at some of history’s greatest art forgers and hoaxes to see if it could help me discover why I do what I do.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
When I first started developing this show I approached my friend Rhys Williamson to bounce ideas off. He’s been part of the writing process for my past two fringe shows so it made sense to get him involved in this show as well. Because Rhys isn’t a magician himself, I always find it good to have a fresh pair of eyes on the project. This show has also had a lot of help from my girlfriend who has been instrumental in asking the right questions to dig out what it is I’m really trying to say.

How did you become interested in making performance?
If you want to be a good magician, the greatest gift you can have is lonely teenage
years. I found magic was a great way of making friends and making people laugh. I started out acting but I didn’t quite understand how to build and develop a character.

It wasn’t until I focused on performing magic or when I tried my hand at comedy that I discovered how to develop my own character. I feel like the stage is equal parts a wonderful and terrible place to discover what you have to tell the world.

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

This show has been different from shows I’ve written in the past. Before, I’ve had a very clear idea of where I want the show to end up and what I want it to be about. This show has been more of a journey of discovery. I wanted to explore what magic means to me and why I choose to make my living out of lying to people. For this show, I feel far less attached to the magic tricks but far more attached to the stories within the show. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
If you are a magician, it is easy to make an audience clap, hard to make an audience think and almost impossible to make an audience feel. I want my audience to experience all three.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The thing I focus on most is audience interaction. I’m constantly getting people from the audience onto stage and interacting with them so it’s important to me that the show is able to shift and change direction depending on who is on stage with me.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I’ve been inspired by the story-telling tradition of the Lake District, where I grew up. However it’s important for me not to feel tied into any tradition typical to magicians. Sadly I think magic often struggles to progress as an art form because people get too stuck into tradition. I really enjoy watching magic and speaking to magicians but I also don’t want to find myself pulling doves out of my sleeves. For me, too much of magic tradition is dated and derivative.

The show features Edinburgh based stories about Arthur Conan Doyle and the true story of Greyfriar’s Bobby, as well as the tale of King Henry VIII’s court Jester and the unusual story of the Cottingley Fairies...
This is Chris’s third Edinburgh Fringe show after the success of 2014’s original magic and story­telling show “Chris Cook: Charlatan” and 2015’s hit show “Chris Cook: Truth or Dare”. With breathtaking tricks and charming comedy, Chris’s performances weave together a story set to pull at your emotions and challenge your perceptions.
Venue: The Voodoo Rooms ­ Ballroom Dates: 6 - 28 August (not 16th) Time: 13.20 (1 hr) Tickets: Free 14+ (PBH Free Fringe)

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