Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Soixante Mirth Dramaturgy: Charmian Hughes @ Edfringe 2016

Cowgatehead (Venue 32)
Aug 6-14, 16-27 3.30pm

Fun-filled frolic through fate, flimflam and filosophy – no effing! Sixth Edinburgh Show! 60th glorious year! 60 minutes! Very Sixy show.

Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth - Dramaturgy Database
Credit: Paul Stuart
What was the inspiration for this performance?
This is the year I hit 60 after 30 year of doing comedy, going to festivals, feeling I have always been the same person. But have I?

60 is the  age at which we stand at the summit looking down at our own death. Will we roll swiftly down that hill,  fall off or descend slowly ?

Who are we at this age? What would my ten year old self make of me now? Or my 14 year old self? My 25 year old self? All ages where huge changes happened, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
This was the springboard for the show, a piece of stand-up personal exploration where my former selves come to life and challenge the way I have fulfilled or failed their dreams and expectations.
Previews have excited a lot of resonance in audiences, so this is something that everyone thinks about at some time.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
 I was lucky to enlist the help of award winning comedian John Gordillo who worked with me on the writing and structure of this show. It can be a real challenge to tell a story through stand-up: audiences may distrust the truth of anything too standy-uppy looking, or find a true story fails because it doesn’t have the punchline they were expecting. John helped me explore the emotional truth of the material so that the jokes took care of themselves while maintaining emotional authenticity.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I first became interested in performing when I took part in some workshops with Cunning Stunts, the 1980’s all woman clown and theatre troupe. What they did was revolutionary at a time when the LIFT festival was reviving clowning and physical theatre as a viable and popular art form. It all happened at the same time as the emergence of Alternative Comedy. It was a vibrant time and I ran away from my job in advertising to become part of it.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
For this show I had to be really self-disciplined about what was emotionally true and not just go for the surreal or bizarre for the sake of a hilarious outcome. I taped all my meetings with John and played them back while re-writing. It was embarrassing how much resistance I could hear in my responses to him. But If I followed his signposts I usually found he was right.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
 I hope the audience will experience resonance. Time is a weird thing. It is the soup we all swim in and yet we are in different places in the stream. This is a poignant and painful realization which is where all the best laughs are to be found.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
If I am faithful to what I feel and think then I will find that connection with the audience in what they feel and think.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
It’s definitely stand-up but I hope it is deep as well as funny.

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