Sunday, 31 July 2016

In Her Own Dramaturgy: Diana Spencer @ Edfringe 2016

In Her Own Words: The Diana Tapes is a historical thriller presenting the true story of one of the greatest media scandals in British history – the publication of Andrew Morton's book about Diana, Princess of Wales, which ended her marriage and shook the monarchy to its core. 
August 23rd - August 27th
Tues – Sat at 2.25pm
theSpace @ Niddry Street (V9)
Niddry Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH

The play moves swiftly between Morton’s office, the sitting room where the Princess recorded her darkest secrets onto cassettes, and the dingy West London cafe where one of her best friends surreptitiously handed them over. The subterfuge and deception are brought to a terrifying climax that changed celebrity, privacy, and the Windsor family forever. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
During his time at New York University our writer, James Clements, double majored in Acting and History. Through his studies he became interested in the life of Princess Diana and ended up writing his thesis on the subject. He was so fully captivated by her story, experiences, and cultural influence that he continued his research and wrote this play.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
We are an international group of artists who met while training at the Experimental Theatre Wing at the NYU: Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. Since our matriculation we have been co-collaborators on a number of projects ranging in both scale and content, making it a natural decision to come together in bringing this show to the Fringe. In addition, we were able to join forces with brilliant Scottish designers to make our show as authentic and well rounded as possible.
How did you become interested in making performance?
While studying at the Experimental Theatre Wing, we were trained and encouraged to explore ourselves, our communities, and our world as whole for potential inspiration for our artistic exploration.
åStudying the work of artists such as Jerzy Grotowski, Mary Overlie, and Bertolt Brecht (to name a few), instilled in us a thirst to create new work that is both entertaining and socially conscious. Creating performance is something that is a vital part of each of us on this team which is what makes us such an effective ensemble.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Yes! As a collaborative group we often work in the way that we did to create this show. One of us has an idea for a script or show, then we workshop with the company to expand and personalize the text, and finally rehearse the production script as we would any other text from another playwright. It’s a way of working that allows us to find the most honest version of a piece of text that has a little bit of each of us in it.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that this performance will change the audience’s perspective on the incredibly known and publicized story of one of the world’s most well known media idols. The hidden story behind the familiar narrative deserves to be heard in our modern age because of how it represents our fixation for icons and the effect our prying eyes have on the individuals behind the images.  

What strategies did you consider towards shaping

this audience experience?

The fast-paced and unapologetic script throws the audience directly into the thick of the action from the very beginning of the performance. Through unyielding dialogue and quick action, the audience is exposed to the full effect of the events that transpired within the Royal family and shook the Monarchy to its core.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

This show follows the tradition of Scottish and Irish Political Theatre. Tackling issues of privacy and celebrity within our modern society, the performance looks to the future of the UK as a nation through its examination of the inner dealings of the Crown and British politics.

This play presents the truth behind a story stranger than fiction. The show merges techniques in documentary theatre and dramatic realism to tell the astonishing true story of Princess Diana’s secret tapes. The production gives voice to a woman so often defined by images and archetypes, and instead presents the complex and multifaceted reality. 

In doing so, the show explores not only the Princess of Wales’ extraordinary influence over British popular imagination, but also the systemic shifts in class, media culture, and deference in post-colonial Britain that she came to symbolize for millions. 

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