Friday, 8 July 2016

Lady Dramaturgy: Amelia Ryan @ Edfringe 2016

Amelia Ryan: Lady Liberty

Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8) ​
Aug 4-14, 16-21, 23-28

Sexy, sassy and side-splittingly hilarious, a night with this critically acclaimed cabaret siren (winner: Adelaide Fringe Weekly Best Cabaret, nominee: Fringe World Best Cabaret) is like a bender with your bestie. Las Vegas romps to long-lasting love, champagne-guzzling to green-juicing, box gaps to feeling #blessed, she tackles the pressing (and totally first world) issues facing the modern woman in search of liberty. With powerhouse vocals and prolific parodies, it's the liberation celebration you won't want to miss!

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Lady Liberty is somewhat of a follow-up to my previous show, A Storm In A D Cup, yet also a stand-alone piece in its own right. It came out of a desperate need for self (and life) improvement- I’d just been dumped, and was back at home living with my mother in a small coastal town in Australia, unemployed and broke…in my late twenties. I wrote the show two years later, and it charts the steps I took (with varying levels of success) to get myself together, by way of a (questionable) 7 step guide. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek, comedic look at the quest for liberation (personal, physical, spiritual, sexual etc) and the various methods we take to achieve it. 
The title Lady Liberty specifically came from a solo adventure I took to New York City a few months after aforementioned dumping. On my final day there, I took a ferry down the Hudson River and saw the original Lady Liberty- the statue herself - a symbol of hope and freedom. I began to become interested in this notion of personal freedom and what it truly means, and more importantly…how do we achieve it? So ultimately, the inspiration of the show was to ‘Become Lady Liberty'- the woman who has the freedom to be, do and say as she pleases. 

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I gathered people whom I’ve worked with in the past; Ben Pfeiffer - a theatre-maker/ actor and director (who helped co-create A Storm In A D Cup) and Matthew Carey - a musical director (he works on both cabaret shows and fancy mainstream musicals). I’ve worked with several co-creatives across it’s lifespan; a dramaturge (Tahli Corin), director (Zac Tyler), and I’ll be working with a mentor - Libby O’Donavon (international cabaret artist) over the next month to get it in shape for Edinburgh. 
I like getting different sets of eyes on it- as it’s over a year old now, it ensures it never gets stale and tired. I also want to make sure I don’t outgrow my work. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I started performing when I was super young, but didn’t start creating my own work (in a professional sense) until my late twenties. And it was a bit of a process of elimination to be honest- I studied Musical Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, and whilst there, came to the sad conclusion that I was the most atrocious dancer, and would probably never be employed in a mainstream musical. At least not if it required me to have any semblance of coordination. So I started creating my own one-woman show. Fortunately, I had a knack for both writing and comedy, along with a few unique stories to tell. Thus, my first show was born and the rest is history!
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?  

If typical means booking a theatre and selling tickets to a show before it’s written, then yes it was a typical (albeit totally stressful) process. The title, Festival bookings and images came first, and then I wrote the show. I did a workshop week with Ben Pfeiffer and we wrote a few songs and sort of plotted out a through-line, but it took a while to create the narrative. It actually took me a few seasons of performing the show to really nail what it was about. It now feels like it’s landed. Thank God. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 

Ultimately, I want them to have fun, and to feel a sense of liberation- be it about who they are, how they look, where they’re at in life, how many one night stands they have (or haven’t) had. I’ve tried to keep it really relatable, so that each person can latch onto something that I talk (or sing) about and think..’.Yes! That’s me!' Or, 'thats how I feel!' I encourage the audience to find a sense of surrender - and freedom - in themselves and in their lives. And if they leave singing any of the songs, I’d be thrilled! 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Mainly by keeping it relatable, keeping it current, and keeping it (mostly) humorous. I don’t tackle anything particularly hard-hitting but still try and integrate enough depth to keep it real and sincere. It’s all quite personable, there’s nothing false or contrived. Hopefully this resonates with the audience, so it feels like we’re a room full of friends having a chat and a laugh.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

It’s very much in the comedy-cabaret realm. I wouldn’t call it text book cabaret but neither is it text-book comedy. It’s a fusion!

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