Friday, 8 July 2016

Dropped Dramaturgy: David McVicar @ Edfringe 2016

 Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) ​
Aug 3-14, 16-28 13:00

Following a critically acclaimed season at The Adelaide Fringe 2016, Gobsmacked Theatre Company is proud to present the Edinburgh Fringe Premiere of the poignant Australian play, Dropped.

Two female soldiers are haunted by the unspoken trauma that bubbles to the surface as they attempt to cope with their hopeless situation.

Unknowingly abandoned behind enemy lines they sort through the rubble in an attempt to find a sense of purpose. Sleep deprived and under severe stress they play games to hide uncomfortable truths and inconsistent memories. They must follow orders to protect the base but the room is filling with snow, they've run out of vodka, the radio is broken and the baby won’t stop crying. Dropped is an intriguing and confronting tale of the
psychological struggle faced by women on the front line of contemporary warfare

Dropped is directed by David McVicar and features Adelaide’s finest young female actors, Sarah Cullinan and Natalia Sledz.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I am interested in contemporary plays that have distinctive text, are political in nature, are interesting and
challenging for an audience and are usually by female playwrights (think Caryl Churchill). When I first read Katy
Warner's play, Dropped, I was immediately drawn to the subject matter - a tale about the psychological stress on
women at the front line of modern warfare - written in response to the Australian Government's decision to allow
women to undertake all front line combat duties by the end of 2016. 

I was also impressed with the way Warner
structured the text to be reminiscent of Waiting for Godot. Like Godot, Dropped is essentially about 'waiting'.
What do we wait for? Why do we wait? It is also about how we reconstruct our own histories to hide uncomfortable truths. Warner's text is heightened, surreal, absurd and sometimes darkly funny but also allows us
to become engaged with the push-and-pull of the two central character's relationship and the nightmare of their
situation. I was inspired to do this play because it explores the myriad underlying tensions, of this particular
situation and these particular characters, that create deep resonances for the audience above and below the
simple traffic of the stage.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Gobsmacked Theatre Company is essentially me as Producer, Director and Designer. I audition actors for
projects. In this case, I auditioned graduate professional actors from the 2014 cohort of Adelaide's best actor
training institution, ACArts - because I wanted the actors to be around 23 years of age. For the Adelaide Fringe
season, the actors were Suzannah Kennett-Lister and Sarah Cullinan. Suzannah had committed to another
production for August and so Natalia Sledz (The Country - Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016) was engaged for the
Edinburgh season.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have been a theatre maker for over 40 years. I have always sought to express myself in creative ways primarily through theatre where I find I can layer a performance with a palette of actors, words, characters, movement, design, sound, music, symbol, image, costume, make up - to talk about aspects of society that interest, concern, move, delight, humour, intrigue me.

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

Yes! The text is always paramount. The actors and I discuss, research and play with the text for some time before settling on our interpretation. During this process I will also have a design concept in mind that I share with the actors and then develop as rehearsals unfold. I usually bring in specialist artists from my pool of contacts - whether they be sound designers, musicians, film makers, set makers, make up designers, costume makers, choreographers - on a needs basis to develop aspects of the production that they specialise in. 

I like having a big mixing pot of ideas and inputs which are collaboratively sifted and sorted until the ideas are cemented.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

The resonances are going to be different for each member of the audience, whether that's the way the play deals with motherhood, war, the future, the military, gender, relationships, children, memory, history.  

Dropped doesn't present answers - or even questions in any conventional sense. It simply evokes, and trusts the dust (or the snow) to settle on its audience in whatever pattern suits their own internal experience.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Dropped communicates to the audience in the spaces between what they are told, what they see and what they
experience. Gaps in exposition and explanation have been left to be occupied by the audiences own interpretation. This is tricky to rehearse particularly when the play utilises non sequitur, pauses, line cut offs, line trail offs, sudden changes in directions, unfinished thoughts, a circular arc, symbols. We have worked on making the through line understandable and accessible while paying a lot of attention to the semiotics.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I describe my work as a blend of the following traditions -total theatre, absurdism, surrealism, heightened
realism, political theatre, dark comedy and physical theatre.

Gobsmacked Theatre Company has a reputation for presenting exciting and bold theatre that integrates distinctive text with striking visual imagery and often a darkly comic sensibility.

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