Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Expensive Dramaturgy: Adura Onashile @ Edfringe 2016

Expensive Shit

Adura Onashile

Produced by Scottish Theatre Producers in association with the Traverse Theatre Company

‘The country change, the city change, the people dem think they change, but I tell you dem shit the same. Dem all dey run from it the same.’ One toilet attendant. Two sets of toilets. One night. Worlds apart.’

Aug 5-28 (not Mondays) Various times 
£18.50-£20.50 / £13.50-£15.50 conc. /£8.50 unemployed

A nightclub toilet attendant in a fictional club based on the Shimmy Club in Glasgow. Her conflicted journey spliced with flashbacks to the toilets of the Shrine nightclub in Lagos, Nigeria, where her younger self dreams of revolution. An unseen, underground heroine struggles to have power and control over her life.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Toilet attendants.

The story that broke of the two way mirror in the Ladies toilets of the shimmy club.

The music and politics of Fela Kuti from a female point of view.

I have always loved the way Kuti's revolutionary politics were presented with humour and subversivenes, often dealing with difficult topics like African identity and post colonialism in a disarming but infectious way. 

I wanted to use this same aesthetic for an examination of his politics from a female point of view and within a Scottish context in looking at the dynamics of a society where a club thinks it's fine to have a two way mirror in the female toilets without the women knowing. I thought there might be parallels in both investigations.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I knew that a dramaturg would be integral to this process. I had worked with a dramaturg in creating HeLa and find it a very useful sounding board and in making sure that the story I want to tell is coming through.  

The shows association with The Traverse meant we could work with their literary associate in this capacity. 

The rest of the creative team are a mixture of people that I had a
previous working relationship with and artists that I was excited about collaborating with for the first time.

An interesting obstacle was trying to source a Black female cast in Scotland. We found this pretty much impossible and only one of our actresses is Scottish based. I think there is a lack here that needs to be addressed on a general level.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have a background as a performer and love how stories are told and the various ways you can do this within theatre. I love the immediacy of theatre the way that the world can take a different shape after the experience of watching a show. 

The hope is always that something you put on will speak to audiences in some way.

I grew up in Nigeria and my first experience of theatre was of the travelling companies that toured universities in the 80's when Nigeria still had a thriving theatre community. That tradition was about the essence of story telling, where the body, the voice and the audiences imagination are used as the mediums. 

The audience is trusted to take part in the fullness of a story being realised.

I think that formative experience still affects the way I want to tell stories.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
This is my directorial debut so I have nothing to compare that to. However my focus is a process that allows us to tell the story with clarity and passion. I have always worked in a collaborative way as an artist and have brought this to bear on this process as well. We have a brilliant team onboard who are a mix of cultural backgrounds and experience.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
That's a difficult question to answer because audiences bring such varying interpretations to theatre. How much can I control what an audience thinks? What I can control is that I tell the story with as much clarity and passion as I can.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I have worked closely with a dramaturg through the writing and rehearsal process in order to make sure that my vision for the piece is being communicated.  This has been especially important to this process because I am both the writer and director. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Not any one tradition but I feel it is shaped by the context in which it is being presented, a studio space in a new writing theatre as part of the Fringe and what comes with that is ambition, passionate and perhaps the type of story that wouldn't be presented within the mainstream?

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