Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Man Show Dramaturgy: RashDash @ Edfringe 2016

 Northern Stage at Summerhall (Venue 26)
 Aug 6-9, 11-16, 18-23, 25-27 8.15 pm

Credit: Richard Davenport

Men have all the power. John and John keep hearing people say that men have all the power, but it doesn’t feel like that to them. Abbi and Helen are making a show about Man and men. Because we all need to pull together now. We want to talk about masculinity and patriarchy but the words that exist aren’t good enough. So there’s music and dance too. Fringe First winners 2010 and 2011 return with a playful new show about gender and language. Two women play two women playing two men.

What was the inspiration for this performance? 
Exploring gender is something we are fascinated by. We’ve been reading a lot about ‘the crisis of masculinity’ recently and it felt impossible to explore this without putting men onstage. We knew the show would be centred around two male characters, which felt strangely subversive for a RashDash show… the rest stemmed from there…

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 
The team came together very naturally - some existing relationships, and some brand new.
We knew early on that we wanted live music in the piece, it’s been absent from our work from a while and having worked together a lot (and because she’s totally brilliant) Becky Wilkie was the obvious choice for a musician/composer. She’s a brilliant woman to join the all female cast in a show about men. Oli Townsend is a designer we worked with on our last show We Want You To Watch and we were really keen on working together again. Katherine Williams is a brilliant, political and radical woman, and a lighting designer who came highly recommended by many companies we love and admire, Simon Perkins (stage manager) and Elisa Nader (exhibition designer) are both university friends we have worked with a lot over the years. Everyone we work with has interesting things to say about the material and the show and we so value having men and women’s opinions in the process.

How did you become interested in making performance? 
We started making theatre together at the University of Hull. It was the perfect playground with its studios and excellent theatre/workshop facilities. As we were studying drama, making performance was exactly what we were there to do and we absolutely made the most of the opportunity. We were randomly put together in our first year practical module, and we never looked back.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance? 
There is no typical process, partly because each show is so different, and partly because we’re still learning about what our process could and should be. This show started, most typically, with a lot of research and talking - academic, opinion, interviews and talking about our own experiences. Then we wrote a load of text that hasn’t made it into the show, but helped us process all the research in a creative way, then we did lots of physical and musical improvisations (which have made it in), then we wrote more text which made it into a first draft. The next stage - which depending on when you’re reading this we’ll either be in the thick of or have just finished - is to rewrite and redraft. This is the best process we’ve found so far…

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 
We hope the audience will experience something cerebral, visceral, dreamlike, playlike. A combination of feeling and thinking. A feast of a show that is challenging and unexpected. We also hope it will make you feel different or maybe, more mindful, about how you think of masculine and feminine - where you sit on that spectrum of values and qualities, and how ‘natural’ all our assumptions around gender really are. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 
The process has determined that some parts of the show are very ‘gettable’, others are much more open to interpretation. We think both are as important and can be equally articulate. It’s important to us that we speak to the body as well as the brain, the subconscious as well as the conscious.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition? 
Only really contemporary theatre, which is so varied it is difficult to categorise. We use music, text and movement but we try to use them in surprising ways which means the work doesn’t sit comfortably in one genre. 

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