Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Girl and a Dramaturgy: Louise Orwin @ Buzzcut

Glasgow date on national tour for new show from ‘Pretty/Ugly’ maverick artist

It comes to Glasgow’s CCA on 14 September for the Buzzcut Double Thrills series.

‘All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun’ Jean-Luc Goddard

The world has changed in many ways since then, but last year Louise Orwin started seeing girls and guns everywhere. She obsessed over them on YouTube, marvelled over them in music videos, felt a bit disgusted about them in video games, and tried not to see them in pornography

She decided to make a show that would challenge those films, which use girls and guns as easy plot devices, and the audiences that watch them - whilst also admitting her own confusion, as a woman, at being simultaneously repulsed and attracted to exactly that kind of imagery.

Where did the inspiration for the work come from?

A few things happening at once really. Beyonce released her
Louise Orwin by Field and McGlynn
music video for ‘Videophone’ featuring her and Lady Gaga scantily-clad bearing multi-coloured guns as props; I watched Springbreakers and the scene where two teenage girls lie on a bed surrounded by guns and using them a sexual props stuck with me; and I came across the work of B-movie mogul Andy Sidaris, who essentially makes low-grade Bond-esque action films which always star playboy bunnies running around with guns.

I kept thinking about the references to guns in each of these contexts, how the images were stuck in my head, how they all elicited different reactions from me (but overwhelming a mix of being reviled and attracted at the same time), I wondered about the economy of power when a woman in a bikini holds a gun (is it/can it ever be empowering), I wondered who these images were for.

I then started thinking about my own appetite for these kind of images, perhaps starting to realise that it was an appetite that had started at quite a young age.

Realizing that there was something almost unconscious about my response to these kind of films, I decided I wanted to make a show that interrogated the allure of the image of the girl and the gun on film, and interrogated how deeply embedded these kind of films can become in our psyches.

You've presented the work at Buzzcut, I believe - does this suggest that the piece is in a live art tradition. Is this fair, or do you see it in another tradition?

Yes. I see the work as sitting somewhere between live art and experimental theatre. Although I do find that these terms become interchangeable depending on who I’m talking to. In many ways, I feel like the work I’ve been making lately is live art for theatrical spaces.

I’m interested in playing with theatrical convention, and the idea of the ‘passive’ viewer. For this work in particular, which is so much about the audience’s gaze, and the idea that we can participate in a culture just by watching, it made sense to use a traditional theatrical set up, and then find ways to subvert or toy with audience expectation in the hope that I can make them see again, or anew.

Are there any artists that you feel a particular affinity with - either in terms of influence or who are working in similar ways?

Over the past few years my work has been likened a few different artists constantly: from Bryony Kimmings, to Tim Crouch, to Action Hero. I used to struggle with these sort of comments, as I wanted my work to be unique and be independent on its own. However, saying that, none of us make work in a vacuum, and there will always be similarities between my work and the work of my peers.

At the moment, I am particularly feeling Sleepwalk Collective’s work. I love the way they play with pop culture, and the image- and definitely feel an affinity with the content and tone of their work.

So... the stupid questions...

Any work with the word 'woman' in the title can be associated with 'feminist' theatre. Is this a useful word for you, and do you see it as 'feminist' in intention... and if the answer is yes, what kind of feminist does it align with?

Yes, I would definitely say that A Girl and A Gun is feminist in intention, and personally I don’t have a problem with the label. If the work is good, and challenging, and helps people be critical of their own politics, then the show is successful. If it is all these things, and also labelled feminist, then in my mind this can only be a good thing.

This show deals very clearly with the construction of gender roles in our society through pop culture. As I am a woman making this work, people might assume that the focus is on the standard for female roles set by these kind of films, but actually I would suggest that the show looks equally at the roles set for men and women in the films we watch- how easy it can be to unconsciously strive to fit into these moulds, or how difficult it might be to live up to those cookie-cutter standards.

I consider my feminism queer and intersectional. I am constantly struggling with the idea and discussions that are had around post-feminism, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some labelled this show as post-feminist.

I believe this is mostly because of the way I perform my role in the show as ‘Her’- which is ambiguously- and how I show the clear struggle I have in being both attracted and repulsed by idea of the femme fatale. To me this struggle is clear, but I have had older more ‘second wave’ feminists who have been angered by the assumption and repetition of the almost-masochistic female role, and in my mind, have chosen not to look beyond that.

The number of younger women who have emailed me, tweeted me, congratulated me after seeing the show, however, says to me that I must be doing something right. It’s important to me that my work is never didactic, I want to be honest about the complexity of modern life, and be open and clear in presenting how that can be a struggle. 

Any work with the word 'gun' in the title suggests an association with violence. Is that a helpful way into the work?

I think it is very helpful for this show- because violence sells, we are attracted to it. And that’s part of what the show is about. It’s not only about violence, but how we are attracted to violence

I once had an audience member come up to me after the show and congratulate me- he told me that for him, the work had started with show poster and title and how they reel you in. He told me that all these things had made him feel an even bigger ‘drop’ as he left the auditorium. I wont give too much away, but there is a moment later in the show where the allure of ‘cool’ and the conventions adhered to in the beginning of the show are broken.

In some ways, I guess the show begins when you read the title, see the poster, and decide to book a ticket.

How do you feel about nostalgia?

That it’s bitter-sweet. I think we live in a very nostalgic, and referential age. And I think you can see that in everything from fashion to music to film. I don’t have a problem with it aesthetically, in fact I love nostalgic references in film- but I think it probably does become a problem with other things, like politics. I’m thinking specifically about the nostalgia that I hear from older generations, where the past is romanticized, as being simpler (‘men’s and women’s role were much simpler in my day’ etc.).

Often these are the opinions that you hear from the privileged though. It’s important that we continue to push forward into the future politically, and that the past is used as a learning tool. To bring it back to A Girl and A Gun, I aim to use nostalgic references as a way of showing audiences how embedded ideas can become within us, almost unknowingly, from the bombardment of images.

Though it’s all original writing, the show should feel to many audiences as if they’ve seen it all before- and its what they do with that realisation, that counts.

What kind of process did you use in making the work?

Hours and hours of watching film (Godard, Tarantino, B-movies), and listening to music. After this I did a huge chunk of writing, letting myself be quite free, in order to see what came out of the watching and listening by osmosis in my writing. From that writing I picked out the elements that came out most strongly again and again, and based my narrative and characters on those elements.

I then began to write a film script. I’ve never done this before, so it was quite an interesting process. My work always comes from a very visual place, but it was interesting to almost story-board the script as well. The show features two cameras on stage too, with live-feeds that are projected onto the back wall of the playing area. During the writing process I found that these two cameras almost became characters in themselves, as they fed into the script a lot.

Technically, it was quite a difficult script to write. Although I could plan for my scenes, as the character of ‘Him’ is played every night by someone who hasn’t seen the script before, it was a balancing act between trying to be as clear and demonstrative as possible for that person, while still staying true to the ‘experiment’ of having an unprepared performer on stage with me. Not knowing quite what this performer will do, or how they will perform their role is exciting, but you still need to make sure that the show holds together as much as possible.

What audience reactions have you had - and what are you expecting on the tour?

People often leave the auditorium feeling like they’ve been ‘part of something’. I think the device of using an unprepared performer on stage, can make the audience feel as if they are watching one of their own up there. There is always laughter, and also a few tears. I’ve had women come up to me and tell me that the show spoke to them about how they seem themselves in society, or about struggling with past abusive relationships. I’ve had young men come up to me and tell me that they’ll never be able to watch their favourite films in the same way again.

Generally, I find that audiences around my ages (maybe 20 – 35) are the audiences that enjoy the show the most. This is probably because they will pick up more of the references. But I’d like to think the show is open enough to be enjoyed by younger and older audiences too.

I’m expecting more of the same on tour. I’m interested to see what the regional differences might be in how the male role is performed (the male participant is always local to the venue), and how far he will go. I’m expecting this to change quite a bit, and the audience reaction to him, as the show travels.

Do you use any particular strategies towards these end?

The show aims to be manipulative of the audience (nostalgic, the allure of women and guns and violence etc), but the show will stay the same wherever I go.

I’ve had an idea that I’d like to archive the decision making of the ‘Him’ as the show travels though. Perhaps with a view of building up a map of how male-ness is viewed all over the UK!

Do you feel that performance is a good space for the discussion of big ideas?

Yes- in fact it’s always an aim in my work. I think the key word here though is ‘discussion’. I dislike being preached to, and I think many people feel the same. I like to play with ambiguity a lot in my work. In my mind, ambiguity can activate an audience- keeps them alive with questions, and thus part of the conversation. That’s not to say that I don’t have strong opinions, but often the work I make covers a topic where there isn’t black or white. I want to make work that provokes discussion and debate, that keeps you thinking, or keeps coming back to you, niggling at you long after you’ve left the theatre.

‘From a young age I’ve been particularly drawn to the image of the femme fatale’ said Louise, ‘but as my politics developed I began to question this. By making an unprepared stranger the star of the show every night, it is my hope that audiences will consider how they might feel if they, too, were put in this position’

A Girl And A Gun is a live multi-media performance structured as a live film-making experiment for theatres and art spaces. It has a razor sharp satirical script and is performed by Louise with a different local male guest performer at every show. 

The guest male performer will have never seen the script before. He will read his lines and stage directions live off an autocue, the audience seeing some of his lines and directions projected onto an onstage screen. As the performance progresses, He is directed to do increasingly violent things to Her, and He must decide what He will and won’t do. 

‘performed with real talent and conviction’ The Stage

A Girl & A Gun mischievously challenges not only ideas of masculinity and femininity, but also pop culture and broader society’s appetite for violence. It creates audience anticipation and complicity to provoke the viewer to examine their own appetite for violence in the media, and the intrinsic sexual objectification of women found all around us.

Louise’s last show Pretty Ugly received international media attention- it has been featured in New York Magazine, Wired Magazine, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and on BBC Radio 4’s Woman's Hour. Internationally it has been featured in El Pais, New York Magazine, Suddeutschezeitung, and in online publications in France, Chile, Germany, Italy, Russia, Argentina and all over the US and UK

Louise Orwin is a London based artist-researcher. Her work spans the live and the recorded with incarnations in performance, video and photography. She is preoccupied with livesness, awkwardness, femininity and masochism, but above all she likes to have fun. 

‘A Girl And A Gun’ was commissioned by Contact Theatre (Manchester) and MC Theatre (Amsterdam) as part of their prestigious Flying Solo Festival. 

A Girl & A Gun: Louise Orwin
An unflinchingly provocative look at the relationship between women and violence in media, starring Orwin and a different male performer at each show. 
14 September 7pm
Glasgow CCA 350 Sauchiehall Street G2 3JD (Buzzcut)
£8/£6 0141 352 4900 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Daniel Kitson and The Three Unities: Introduction: The Unities

Written just after the 'Golden Era' of Athenian tragedy, Aristotle's Poetics has held an important place in the study of dramaturgy for over two thousand years. Often considered a response to Plato's condemnation of theatre in The Republic, it features a detailed analysis of the form and function of classical tragedy, contrasting it with epic poetry and setting out what appears to be an early handbook for script-writers. Although its precise meaning has been hotly contested - the definition of catharsis, the ideal outcome for an audience, is variously seen as social purification or a more personal appreciation - the Three Unities of Plot (or action), Time and Place have often been evoked as a measure of tragic quality.

Aristotle, teaching in the Hellenistic period, did have an acknowledged cannon to consider. The three playwrights of fifth century Athens (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides) had achieved a status through their productions at the Dionysia and subsequent revivals. Aristotle explicitly identifies Sophocles' Oedipus Rex as a paradigm, and it is from examples of the unities are frequently taken from this text. 

The Unity of Action
"The plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of
a tragedy." (Poetics VI). 

Having established the central importance of the plot, Aristotle goes on to explain how it operates in Attic tragedy. The Unity of Action insists that there is only a single plot, and no subplots. Oedipus follows the journey of one man towards self-revelation - and the social impact of his ignorance and discovery. The Oresteia plays out the development of human justice through Orestes revenge. The Suppliant Women is concerned with the resolution of an appeal for asylum. 

The dynamism of Attic tragedy frequently depends on this single-minded focus on one plot. The limitations of the Athenian tragic format (three actors and a chorus, multiple productions in the same space on the same day) encouraged a purity of intention: overloading the actors with characters, exploring multiple ideas or non-choral interludes would stretch the capacity of the company. 

The Unity of Time
"Tragedy endeavours, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit, whereas the Epic action has no limits of time. This, then, is a second point of difference; though at first the same freedom was admitted in Tragedy as in Epic poetry." (ibid, Book V)

At this point, Aristotle appears to limit the action to a twenty-four hour period. However, this is part of a contrast with the epic mode, exemplified by Homer's Iliad or Odyssey, and Aristotle recognises that this is not a universal rule. A hint that early tragedies were more discursive, and the caveat 'as far as possible' reveals that this is far from absolute. 

Additionally, this is not written as a rule, but as an observation. Examining Oedipus, the passage of time is not as simple as suggested. There are choral interludes which cover passages of time - various characters are summoned, Creon goes to Delphi from Thebes (a journey of around fifteen hours on foot, according to Google Maps) and returns - and the appearance of a unity of time is actually carefully managed. 

Indeed, tragedies were made that attempted a wider scope: he dismisses various Theseids and Hercleids because they tried to tell a hero's life story. Sadly, these have been lost, and their quality cannot be assessed, but tragedy clearly existed in the Hellenistic period which broke this unity.

The Unity of Place
That all of the action must take place in a single location is another quality perhaps dictated by the format of the Athenian theatre. Scene changes were not easily managed, and the shortness of each tragedy encourages a single set. However, the classical play texts do support this observation. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Camille's Dramaturgy: Kamila Klamut @ edfringe 2016

A PERFORMANCE BY Kamila Klamut (Poland)
PERFORMED BY Kamila Klamut AND Ewa Pasikowska

directorial assistance: Mariana Sadovska, Carol Brinkmann Ellis, Vivien Wood, Alexandra Kazazou
music: Mariana Sadovska
lighting design: Bartosz Radziszewski
in the performance used fragments of Camille Claudel’s letters and poetry of Zuzanna Ginczanka
assistance with the english translation: Ewa Pasikowska
english translation editor: Anne Dennis
CREATED DURING AN ARTISTIC RESIDENCY at the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław, Polando by maciej margielski

Camille Claudel was a sculptor and artist. She was also the sister of Paul Claudel and the lover, creative collaborator and muse of sculptor Auguste Rodin. After the end of her relationships with Rodin she suffered a nervous breakdown and was confined to an asylum by her brother. She spent the last 30 years of her life there. Kamila Klamut’s performance, based on the poetry of Zuzanna Ginczanka and fragments of Camille Claudel’s letters, explores her life and work using text, sculptural costume and live music by Ewa Pasikowska.

“The last photo ever taken of Camille provided an impulse that directly influenced the final shape of the performance. It features Camille together with a friend who visited her in the hospital. I imagined that the visits, which didn’t occur very often during her 30 years in the asylum, may have evoked in her a cascade of memories – memories whose shapes I sensed and clothed in my own sensitivity”. Kamila Klamut

 What was the inspiration for this performance?

It was the story of an extraordinary artistically talented woman, who was unlucky to be born one and half century ago in Europe, in France in times when legal and social situation of women was not very good at all. The sculptress, Camille Claudel, the sister of famous writer Paul Claudel, long term collaborator of the most renown French sculptor Auguste Rodin, with whom she was connected by great unhappy love. 

Her unfulfilled relationship with Rodin and great difficulties she faced on her path to becoming an independent artist caused that Camille suffered huge nervous breakdown and was placed against her will in a psychiatric hospital by her family. She spent there the last 30 years of her life.

Is theatre still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
How did you become interested in making performance?

Nothing will ever replace a face-to-face meeting of a human being with another human being and this is exactly what a theatre performance is. And of course it becomes a medium to voice ideas that provoke a response. 

There are performances that include the reactions to the messages transmitted from the stage directly into the structure of the piece. Other performances (like ours) are more like a sparkle that triggers further discussion after the performance.
The need to create theatre comes directly from a profound human need for a dialog.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

A performance is something very important for us, it requires time and devotion. The process of creating a performance goes hand in hand with a deep research, with weeks, sometimes months of work on music. 

We very often travel to places connected to the themes we are trying to touch, to meet people, speak to them, often make music together, or just to see the landscape of those places. At the same time we cultivate our skills as actors and musicians to finally gather all the treads, connect them and shape the final performance.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We would like to take spectators on a journey that is full of emotions, that brings reflection, that tells a story of a woman imprisoned not only in a psychiatric institution but also in the patriarchal world. The world that's not at all a distant, perhaps Muslim country but that existed in Europe, in Catholic France just 100 years ago.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Our greatest strategy is quality theatre. Theatre that grabs spectator's attention, that is absorbing, that opens a channel of contact between actors and the audience, that is a direct transmission from heart to heart.

Kamila Klamut is a co-founder of award-winning Theatr ZAR (among others at the 2012 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, performance Caesarean Section: Essays on Suicide of Theatre ZAR won a Total Theatre award for Physical Theatre and a Herald Angel) and a regular collaborator with Song of the Goat Theatre and the Grotowski Institute.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Aug 3 preview, 5–9, 11–13, 15–17, 19–21, 23–25, 27–28,  time 21:10

Venue: Summerhall, 1 Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL
(Cairns Lecture Theatre)
SUITABILITY: 16+ (Guideline)

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Magnificent Bearded Dramaturgy: Tim Bell @ Edfringe 2016

Dame Nature – The Magnificent Bearded Lady

Moisturise. Oil. Comb. Repeat. Dame Nature is a bearded lady who has been looking after her facial furniture for as long as she can remember. Once the star of the show, now she spends her days in the depths of her dressing room contemplating the fading roar of the crowd, lost love and the merits of Phil Collins' solo work. A poignant, off-kilter show for people who don't like to judge a woman by her beard. Supported by Bristol Old Vic Ferment.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The treatment of bearded ladies in the Victorian era is fascinating subject, but surprisingly little of it has found its way onstage. I was first attracted to the idea of what it might feel like to be judged solely by one aspect of your appearance, and, taking that further, what that might feel like to a performer who has been doing it for as long as she can remember. 

I love the idea of examining modern gender stereotypes through the world of Victorian music hall. And I love the stories of the inspiring women that often strode onstage in the face of great adversity. Combining them, fingers crossed, weaves a very rich backdrop to the show. 

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

I'm tremendously lucky to be a Bristol Ferment artist; it's a network of theatre makers supported by Bristol Old Vic. They're a really inspiring bunch and it's through that network that I met Hannah Kew (my director). Because of the nature of the piece I felt it was important to have a women-led production team; designer Verity Quinn and lighting designer Penny Griffin are regular collaborators.

It is also essential to me that everyone is empowered to have a voice in the creative process that reaches beyond their specialism. Dramaturg Laurence Cook was recommended by a friend and having worked with him so closely on this project I can definitely see why. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I've always been interested in making performance. After training as an actor, and taking a more 'traditional' path through the industry (appearing in some half-decent theatre, some passable television and some terrible films along the way), this became a reality when I met my long-time collaborator Harry Long. 

Together we formed Shanty Theatre Company. Harry and I both grew up in the countryside, and through Shanty we are interested in giving a louder voice to rural communities. We hope to tell the stories that make up the fabric of a place, spring from its history and are bound up in its myths. Since 2008 we’ve created 9 original pieces of theatre, performing in pubs, woods, schools, custom-made-whiskey-crate-nightclubs, theatres, residential homes and world heritage sites. 

Shanty is still going strong (we've got a busy 2017 with our friends over at Eastern Angles), but alongside this, a healthy creative partnership means developing your own voice as well.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?

I suffer from a particularly high pretentiousness-radar when talking about this stuff, which I think, in turn, informs the way we make our work, but here goes! 

We hope to demystify the creation process. Anything goes, and anyone can contribute; there is no ego attached to anyone's ideas. So collaboration and liberation of the performers are at the heart of what we nervously call our process. Because each time we create, we're looking to make a new process where our style matches the content. So I hope it's difficult to say we have one way of doing things. 

However, there are some constants. A lot of our content comes from play; improvisations, games, and the feeling of freedom in the rehearsal room. We aim to create a lot more material than we need. After that, it's a process of ruthless editing.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

This is a question that is constantly on our minds when making our work. Right from the get-go, there is a lot for the audience to get their teeth into. 

When they walk-in, they find a man, wearing a dress, with a hairy chest, and a beard, not to mention breasts. Playing a woman. It's a complicated picture. I hope that the audience will be drawn in by a character they warm to - even find funny - before discovering the darkness that is at the heart of coercive and manipulative relationships. 

Hopefully they'll question how they've felt about the character (and her situation) up to that point. And form some ideas as to what they'd like her to do in the future.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I think the arc of the show moves from broad, entertaining and accessible comedy, which celebrates vaudeville, variety, and the traditions of Victorian carnival, to something darker and a lot more sinister. When we were making the show we often spoke about the audience realising two thirds of the way through that they are watching a very different play from the start. We use dance too. Mostly to 80s power ballads. But I don't want to give the game away.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition 

I think my practice has been influenced by the companies that I grew up watching: Complicite, Told by An Idiot, The Right Size. And Chaka Khan.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Dramaturgy Syndrome: Catriona Scott @ Edfringe 2016

The University of St Andrews Performing Arts Fund Presents

By Catriona Scott

“Society’s messed up, your parents need therapy… Montague. How do you spell that?”

Dr William Bard is not the most competent of psychiatrists. Unfortunately for him, his patients aren’t exactly model citizens either. From murder to sleepwalking, drug problems to hallucinations, Dr Bard will have to try and help kings, lovers and even an actual donkey – or maybe that’s just that pretentious ass Nick Bottom. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for this performance came from a single joke about psychiatry, which forms the punchline of the script. The rest of the play emerged from discussion with friends and family as well as lots of my own ideas for how Shakespeare’s characters could work in this new setting; Macbeth seeing daggers in every Rorschach inkblot, for example.

Is theatre still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

I certainly think that it is, not only in exploration of new thought and ideas in contemporary plays, but through looking at older scripts, such as those by William Shakespeare, as an obvious example, in a new light. Although the audience collectively sees a show together, they will not all see the same things, and this leads to discussion not only of the performance itself but its intentions and the ideas behind it.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I have been acting since I was young, but I first began writing plays two years ago, as part of a student writing festival at the University of St Andrews. As part of this festival I wrote and directed my first play, and have subsequently written three more. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

As this particular play had already been performed in St Andrews under a different title, the approach to this show first began with editing the script in order to polish it and have it fit the Fringe’s runtimes. Having done this we held auditions, cast the show and rehearsed for two weeks in July prior to our move to Edinburgh. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope that the audience will have a good laugh, as the show is intended to be light hearted and entertaining, as opposed to a serious, in depth discussion of the problems many of Shakespeare’s characters face. I also hope they will experience lots of moments of recognition, not just from the more obvious jokes and puns but other references within the show - in terms of props, for example, such as Lady Macbeth using hand sanitizer throughout the first scene.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I tried to ensure we dealt with some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters, and also tried to ensure that none of the jokes were too obscure. One of our reviews has stated that a basic understanding of the outlines of the plays referred to would be useful, but not essential to the audience’s overall enjoyment of the piece. In the writing process a lot of jokes that could have been too obscure were cut, and even the play’s title was changed in coming to the Fringe – when the show was first performed it was titled Antic Disposition, in reference to Hamlet’s putting ‘an antic disposition on’; that is, pretending to be mad.

Shakespeare Syndrome, a one act comedy, explores just what happens when several of William Shakespeare’s most beloved characters show up at Dr Bard’s office.  How will Macbeth respond to the inkblot test? Is Richard III allowed to use the disabled parking space? 

Will Hamlet ever be allowed to finish his soliloquy? Though this be madness, there’s no method in’t.

After a sell-out performance at the University of St Andrews, Catriona Scott’s new play Shakespeare Syndrome brings mystery and humour to the usually mundane world of a psychiatrist’s office. In the true spirit of Shakespeare, this energetic and refreshing family-friendly production makes no promises to explain the thoroughly inexplicable actions of his most colourful characters, but it is guaranteed to entertain, amuse, and bamboozle.

Friday, 12 August 2016

MacBain Dramaturgy: Dood Paard @ Edfringe 2016

Summerhall (Venue 26) ​
Aug 12-14 8.55pm

Macbeth and Kurt Cobain and Lady Macbeth and Courtney Love inspire MacBain a pitch-black comedy by Gerardjan Rijnders about unbridled ambition, hunger for power and an addiction to intoxication and ecstasy which opens in Summerhall’s Old Lab on 5 August. Dood Paard’s triptych of hilarious interviews with the pop stars, a freaky fast-forward puppet version of Macbeth which results in a merciless symbiosis of the grunge couple Cobain-Love and the Thanes of Cawdor. A crazy journey into the world of two seriously troubled people who are trying to escape from their mental prison, as the loneliness howls through the room and the attempts to reverse the inevitable end are heart-breaking.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The author, Gerardjan Rijnders wrote the play for two Portugese actors. A pitch-black comedy about unbridled ambition, hunger for power and an addition to intoxication and ecstasy, inspired by Macbeth & Kurt Cobain and Lady Macbeth & Courtney Love. He was so happy with the idea and the text that he asked us to read it. We were blown away and immediately  decided to stage the play. The combination of the superstars and the play Macbeth was very inspiring.

How did you go about gathering the team for it
We asked composer Wessel Schrik to make soundscape. He used to be a big fan of Cobain and Love and he made versions of songs of Nirvana with instruments from the time of Shakespeare. He also made a soundscape that represents the walking advancing wood with trembling cutlery and copper plates. Julian Maiwald made a freaky lightshow.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance? 
We work as a collective, which means that we do the directing, the dramaturgy and the set design together.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
The audience will be a witness of two seriously troubled people who are trying to escape from their mental prison in brief and concise sentences. The loneliness howls through the room and the attempts to reverse the inevitable end, are heartbreaking.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
During the rehearsals we add two scenes to Macbain and made a triptych with a hilarious interview with the pop stars, a freaky fast-forward puppet version of Macbeth with children's toys that would give some context to the last part, the merciless symbiosis of the grunge couple Cobain-Love and the royal couple. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
We love to work with Shakespeare and we have done quite a lot of his plays, Titus Andronicus, Othello, Julius Ceasar, Coriolanus,.. We also staged the Jew of Malta of coeval Marlowe. Besides we also work with newer  plays  and develop new texts in collaboration with playwrites..

World Without Dramaturgy: Ontroerend Goed @ Edfringe 2016

 Summerhall (Venue 26) ​
Aug 12-14, 16-21, 23-28 11.30pm

world-without-us-dramaturgy-database-edfringeFollowing the huge success of the three previous seasons at Summerhall, Big in Belgium, Richard Jordan Productions, Summerhall and Theatre Royal Plymouth return to present a fourth BIG IN BELGIUM at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – featuring some of the most significant theatre companies from the Flemish part of Belgium. 

Edinburgh favourites Ontroerend Goed present their latest production, World Without Us at Summerhall from 3 August (press from 5 August). We could hardly imagine it; no mortgages, no knitting scarves, no swimming pools, no butterfly strokes and no honey kept in glass bowls. Animals would no longer be stuffed, skyscrapers no longer built, no more suicide and no mathematics. There would be no more talk about the old days, about what’s possible. There would be no words. It would never happen. We’d find a solution. A world without us. 

Multiple Fringe First award winners OntroerendGoed return to Edinburgh with their new piece about the end of humanity and what comes after.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The powerlessness I sometimes feel when dealing with and caring for what’s happening in the world today.  
And then it seems hard to see the beauty of us, humans.  
But there is, there is an abundance of it between humans themselves and the world around us.

And just as when you miss somebody close,
experiencing a time without him or her can remind you of the importance of that person. 
Even though you realise it when they’re close, it can be a good reminder, a moment to redefine it.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

The gathering was easy.  Joeri and I knew from the start we didn’t want to choose between a woman or man.
Karolien is part of the artistic team of OG and looked forward to play a monologue
and Valentijn we have worked with in the past and has a unique experience with being alone on stage.
Babette, our main technician, is amazing with light and Jeroen a master in sound.
The final piece of the puzzle came when I met Renato Nicolodi, who made the sculpture for the play,
a visual artist whose work seamlessy fitted with the topic of the show.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I don’t know.  I don’t really have the feeling there was a choice.  
In retrospect I could guess the immediacy and live experience of the art form spoke to me.
But there was just this emotional drive to occupy the stage, to completely use this platform and discover all its elements that could speak directly to people.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?

I don’t seem to have a typical process.  Every performance demands a rethinking of every aspect in creating a show.
From the very beginning the content and form decide which path to follow.
And with this one I felt I had to start over again.  Even though it seems so simple, a pure form of storytelling,
I felt we had to discover so many new aspects.  
Research was an essential part, we had amazing talks with professors from universities, because we wanted to be right.
But then again we had to throw away so many of our research because it was so important that the audience engaged on more than just a scientific level.
And then there was the question of emotion.  How do you tell a story you’re not part of.  
The act of imagining a story without humans is the only thing that’s real.  The paradox fucks up your mind sometimes.  But a world without us has no imagination.
At least not ours.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

As with most of my shows, I cherish the openness of what an audience can experience.  There is no clear answer, the question is too big.
And my personal drive for the show is just one aspect of its communication.
I wanted to give audience the opportunity to imagine a world without us with us,
and in doing so giving the opportunity to look at the world today from a different perspective.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

There were many.  First there was the idea to have no actor at all.  Then to playback the whole show, as if there was no one there in the first place.
The darkness I had to compromise here in Edinburgh.  Pure darkness is not possible here due to safety regulations.
But experiencing that moment in the show where everybody around you completely disappears from sight, is something I miss here in Edinburgh.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

No.  We’re just one tiny part of an immensely creative world.

Contemporary arts are always reflections on contemorary issues. When major devestating events happen close to where you live they will, without fail, penetrate your way of thinking, change the way you act and influence what you create. In a large or small way all shows in this collection show awareness of recent European history and BIG IN BELGIUM hopes to take you on a journey where you question your own points of view in light of the recent reality.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

My Name is Gideon: Songs, Space Travel and Dramaturgy: Gideon Irving @ Edfringe 2016

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Aug 10-16, 18-29 1.00pm

Fusing songs, stories, and underwater levitation! Gideon Irving creates a tapestry of the unexpected with a voice the New Yorker describes as 'unique and unclassifiable, just like the guy himself'. Using banjo, bouzouki, waterphone, shruti box, mbira, scacciapensieri, wineglass and more, his show has been forged in over 500 living room performances around the world. After traveling home-to-home on bicycle and rollerblades, this home-show troubadour invites you into his Fringe living room.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I wanted to make something that was continuously surprising. I wanted  a show where I never did the same kind of bit twice, where the instrument and tone constantly and acrobatically shifts through out. A show that is full of depth and fun and music and stupid and joy and sadness and guts and chocolate.  

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
It's a family affair. My friend Ewen from New Mexico came on as our imagineer, my friend Steve from Utah joined as a lighting designer / stage manager and we've assembled a killer crew of helpers and word spreaders, many of whom have hosted me and my show in their home. 

How did you become interested in making performance?
I grew up in NYC going to the theater and being surrounded by artists, musicians, freaks, eccentrics, heretics, acrobats, wizards, drag queens, actors, balladeers and spoon salesman. It was written in the cards. I never had a choice! 

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Yes it was a typical process for me. Just took 6 years and an unbearable amount of agony, time, money, self annihilation and glee. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Euphoria and or orgasm. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
It's always been incredibly important to me that people don't know too much. Surprise in all its forms and entanglements  is a central part of the show and what I enjoy as an audience member. The challenge then lies in drawing people in to the unknown. When we are constantly checking reviews and stars and finding the best of the thing we are after to make sure we aren't going to the wrong place it takes a lot to get folks in a room for something they know very little about. This is why we feature a fish, blender, action figure and floating duck in our poster for our show that is rooted in music. 

Playing in peoples homes, pushes you directly up against your audience. It's an ideal workshop space. There is no mystery as to what is working and what is not. Playing in living rooms you are not blinded by a follow spot. You can see everyones face. Every night you know what makes them feel and what puts them to sleep. This is the smithy of fun and feeling that has allowed me to craft this show over the last 6 years and understand what can work. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I am of the troubadour tradition, the bard, the minstrel, the jongleur. Sometimes people think playing in homes is a new thing. While it might be on the rise in popularity it's just about the oldest thing there is. Humming in a cave by the fire or pounding a banjo by the couch it's the same thing. My tradition is old old old I just use the internet to help me organize it.