Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Only Dramaturgy: Thomas Monckton @ Edfringe 2016

Only Bones is an award-winning new production
by New Zealanders Thomas Monckton and Gemma Tweedie and Finland-based physical theatre company Kallo Collective. 

Only Bones uses body manipulation and bendy physicality to create an original piece of physical theatre. Its quirky low-tech aesthetic involves one performer, one technician, one light, no text, and a stage area of little more than 1m². 

With head-juggling and jellyfish this is a hypnotic show about a lot, using very little.

What was the inspiration for this performance?I wanted to create a show that stripped everything down to just the body and a lamp in an attempt at inventing a style of performance that wasn't complicated by preconceptions or expectations. I wanted to express some kind of wonder and some kind of confusion at our existance. I thought it would be interesting to create a show that was so minimal but attempted to express very large sentiments.

Why do you think 'circus arts' are experiencing a revival?I think circus artists are finding new ways of using their skills
because there is more interdisciplinary communication. This has also opened up the whole spectrum of performance venues to circus. 

The international market has also seen the benefit of smaller scale non-verbal performance since it is accessible and affordable and circus is one of the leading genres of the non-verbal category. That means that there is a healthier competitiveness in small-scale and new
productions and it's those new artists in small groups that drive and define the genre.

do you feel an affinity with any other performers?I very much enjoyed The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobel and felt like I connected with the direction in that show.

do you have any ideas for developing this performance (style) in the future?
Yes! My big idea is to create an Only Bones aesthetic where anyone can make an Only Bones show. I would like it to become a style in itself.

There is already an Only Bones v1.1 and Only Bones v1.2 being created by different artists. So, if you're a physical performer and you feel like you can handle making a solo show with one lamp and essentially no props or set then you should get in touch!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?Ultimately I want my audience to be uplifted. I want them to leave happier than when they came in to the theatre and hopefully more aware of their own fragility and their existence.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Gemma Tweedie (who I made the show with and who operates the show) and I both wanted the aesthetic to be a bit harsh so there was some kind of conflict between the silliness of what was happening on stage and
the harshness of what it looked like. We wanted to have an element of uneasiness to the show. I think that helps to create a sentiment of fragility and self-awareness if you are feeling two opposing things at the same time.

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