Wednesday 20 July 2016

The Dramaturgy of Pip and Twig: Siân Richards and Kara McLane Burke @ Edfringe 2016

Performers Exchange Project (PEP) and Hamner Theater present

SpaceTriplex (V38)
 5 -27 August 2016| 6:40pm – 7:30pm (50 mins)

The Convolution of Pip and Twig is a performance play which tells the story of inseparable twin sisters whose safe and routine world of living lives in complete unison is blown open when one twin decides to follow her heart into the unknown. 

Created, and performed by Kara McLane Burke and Siân Richards, this extraordinary tale of devoted twin sisters -Pip and Twig - navigating the light and the shadow of a complicated love.  

Inspired by real-life twin stories such as identical twins The Chaplin Sisters who dressed alike, walked in step and ate in tandem, and, Vaudeville sister acts such as the Dolly Sisters, The Convolution of Pip and Twig will take audiences on an epic adventure with, dance, songs, thrills, spills and tugs of collective heart strings.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The initial inspiration was the desire to work, and to co-create a performance together. We both came into the project with some instigation's/inspirations/imagery.

Kara had an interest in Broadway musicals and variety shows, like Judy Garland's and the Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett show. Sian came with an image of a woman on a tiny boat in a vast ocean and an interest in twins, mythical, real life, spiritual etc. We proceeded with the faith that we would discover a way for these themes to relate to each other.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
We started with just the two of us as instigators, co-creators, producers and performers. We moved on to obvious choices among our theatre collective (PEP) for a director (Martha Mendenhall) and someone to write some texts for us to use to make the text for the performance (Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell).

We then reached out to members of our creative community in Charlottesville as things presented themselves, many of whom are people we have worked with many times in the past.

How did you become interested in making performance?
Sian: I became interested in acting as a school kid and continued with theatre performance through high school, into s college, and as a young adult. My interest in really making my own performance work, didn't start until I began training as a company member with a Washington D.C. based theatre company called Theatre Du Jour.

Theatre Du Jour is lead by B. Stanley  who was an apprentice to Ingemar Lindh and working with them was when I really found  a way of making performance that made sense to me. My fellow PEP company member was already a member of TDJ and invited me to join them in a performance. Shortly after, I joined the company. I worked and trained with them until moving back to my home town and then  co-founding PEP with Martha Mendenhall and Kara McLane Burke and Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell and Doreen Bechtol.

Kara: I grew up in a musical family, and loved performing in musical theatre as a teen. I worked for many years with the touring company of what is currently the American Shakespeare Center.

It wasn't until my late-twenties that I focused on physical training as an actor. I co-founded Foolery and later PEP with people who share the desire to create plays with an ensemble that works together on a long-term basis.  It's been almost 20 years, and I still find this route very rewarding as a theatre-maker.  

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
PEP has had a slightly different process for each our our shows, though roughly, they have all been based on the training and work Martha and Sian used with Theatre Du Jour.

They have all been directed by Martha. The main differences this time are that Kara and Sian lead and initiated (for the first time) this work, they started in the rehearsal room together before any major decisions about
the content of the performance had been made, and for the first time, Martha directed while not being the final say on any creative decisions being made. That balance between creators and the director as outside eye was a new one for PEP.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
We hope they will see some familiar and relatable human moments of love and hurt and vulnerability, that they will laugh a lot, and leave feeling like we went on a little journey together.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
We mostly strived to make a clear narrative for the audience, being clear about what each little choice along the way meant in terms of what the best way to tell the story would be. Trying always to make choices that were in response to what we really had developing in front of us, instead of in response to what we had thought it would be, or notions that we had fallen in love with but no longer served the story.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
The tradition in which we work is a physical theater tradition that grew up in Europe (Jerzy Grotowski is considered to be the "father" of this work) out of the corporeal mime work of Etienne Decroux (Who was mentor to Ingemar Lindh mentioned above). 

Much like a great deal of Asian traditional theater, this tradition relies on the actor's facility with body and voice to create the performance, without reliance upon technical or set elements.  This tradition requires that an actor dedicate himself to a process of training -- much like a dancer or opera singer must train -- in order for the actor to unearth their full physical and vocal range.

The Convolution of Pip and Twig
Production Details
Produced by Kara McLane Burke, Siân Richards, Matt Joslyn
Presented by The Hamner Theater
Created and Performed by Siân Richards and Kara McLane Burke
Directed by Martha Mendenhall
Texts contributed by Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell
Music and Lyrics by Jim Waive
Lights by Rowena Halpin and Zap McConnell
Sound by Opal Lechmanski and Louis Schultz
Technical direction for Edinburgh by Zap McConnell
Stage Managed by Opal Lechmanski
Fight Assistance by JP Scheidler
Set and Costume assistance by
Jim Waive, Corey Lloyd, Laura Covert, Lisa Eller, Zap McConnell, Will May, Thadd McQuade, Grady Smith, Tai & Eli Strauss, Jennifer Tidwell
Hair by Leslie Morgan Lowry
Graphic Design by Catherine Dee, Vu Nguyen
Photography by Will Kerner, Will May, and Rich Tarbell

Venue: SpaceTriplex (V38)
Add:   The Prince Phillip Building, 19 Hill Place, Edinburgh EH8 9DP
Date: 5 -27 August 2016: 
Time: 6:40pm. 7:30 (50 mins)
Tickets £8.00  £6.00 (Conc) Preview tickets £6.00 £4.00 (Conc)
Box Office :



Siân Richards was born in Swansea, Wales and raised in rural Virginia, USA. She has been a performer, creator, and producer of original work for over ten years as a founding member of PEP (Performers Exchange Project). Prior to co-founding PEP, Sian trained and performed as a member of Theatre du Jour of Washington DC under the direction of B. Stanley (former assistant to Ingemar Lindh). Siân was a member of, and MC for, CLAW (Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers) from its inception in 2008 until 2015, and performed with singer/songwriter Sarah White as one half of The (All New) Acorn Sisters.


Kara McLane Burke is a founding member of PEP (Performers Exchange Project) based in Charlottesville VA, USA, a collective that has hosted the Dah Theatre from Serbia, Annika Lewis of Denmark’s Kassandra Production and co-organized large-scale carnivals that include PEP’s original plays.  She worked for numerous seasons as actor, road manager and director for Shenandoah Shakespeare Express/American Shakespeare Center in Staunton VA. She co-founded and performed with theatre collective Foolery, whose clown show Cyrano won BBC Award for Most Innovative Show at the Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for the Total Theatre Award for Most Innovative International Production at the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe.

PEP is a professional theatre company that has been making original work since 2005, and is a member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET).
PEP has a two-fold mission:
·         To develop and perform original works in and for our community. To date they have created four original performances (Zelda & Lucia’s Loony Bin TragedyDido Versus the Squid Monster, Our American Ann Sisters, and The Convolution of Pip and Twig), co-produced two large-scale collaborative art carnivals (in conjunction with other Charlottesville organizations and artists) at the old Ix factory (Wunderkammer and Shentai), conducted workshops at PVCC, Mary Baldwin College, Hollins University, and Live Arts, toured Our American Ann Sisters, and toured a working demonstration called “Building Performance: A Look at Actor-Created Physical Actions.”
·         To engage with like-minded performers and ensembles from around the U.S. and the world for residencies of performance, workshops, and exchange. Past exchange partners have included: Serbia’s DAH Theatre, Annika Lewis, and American companies from New York and Washington, DC, as well as local Charlottesville organizations like Live Arts, Hamner Theater, Zen Monkey Project, Madwoman Project and the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative.


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