Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Improv Dramaturgy with Rhapsodes: Sean McCann @ Edfringe 2016

Aug 3-14 2.30pm

Shakespeare made up on the spot! From the creators of Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, this is improv as you've never seen it before. Honouring ancient Athenian traditions, two Rhapsodes compete to create a fully-authentic Shakespearean masterpiece incorporating rap, poetry-slams and any writer from the last 3,000 years, from Homer to Pinter, from Poe to Dr Seuss. Adam Meggido and Sean McCann have improvised at the National Theatre, Royal Court, Shakespeare's Globe and all over the world.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Lots ! This show developed out of three years' work with Ken Campbell , and then several years of working on literary - based Impro shows like " School Of Night". With Ken, we first improvised Shakespeare together with Mark Rylance at Shakespeare's Globe in 2005. We wanted to see how much of the audience we could use in a show , and how much we could make the audience part of the narrative. We've also been great fans of narrative poetry , and the entertainment potential of dramatising poetry while playing with the rhyme and rhythm. We try to channel the Marx Brothers as well as Ken Dodd. 
How did you become interested in making performance?

We started reading all the Impro books and underlining all the things you aren't meant to do. For example , one book says one could not , nor should not , ever improvise in the style of Edgar Allan Poe's " The Raven ".  We've been doing it for years and audiences are pretty keen on it. So that's how this happened. 

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

Typical for us , if not for " the others ". This is a very atypical show - it combines stand - up , poetry slamming , music - hall and really really weird stuff. Over the years Adam and I have performed as a double - act and with larger groups. We've honed particular bits of audience - interactive "patter ", and we change our show depending on the shape of the playing space , and the consistency of the audience - so it's very much a bespoke show - you bring your ideas and we'll weave them into our show. We will also compliment you on your dress sense. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope they will experience great joy , great wonder , and great ownership of the story. We also hope they will experience a great need to see our show again , and an other-worldly desire to bring their friends. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Get on with it. Be funny. Be touching. Be touchingly funny. We keep the house lights up and work hard on our poetic metre. By the end everyone will have learned something , ideally something beneficial to humankind. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

I'm a huge fan of vaudeville , of double - acts , and of pantomime. We love to get in amongst the crowd , and to create a carnivalesque festivity. We are , at times , very much behind you. Oh yes we are. 

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