Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Red Guitar Dramaturgy: John Sheldon @ Edfringe 2016

 theSpace @ Surgeons Hall(Venue 53)
Aug 9-13, 15-20 9.05pm


John Sheldon has stories to tell... Van Morrison's lead guitarist at 17, songwriter to James Taylor and a chance encounter with Jimi Hendrix. Part monologue, part stand-up comedy and a lot of the kind of guitar-playing that moved Ed Ward of National Public Radio to call John 'one of the great guitarists of our time.' It's a funny, poignant and in the end a story of personal transformation.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
 I was writing a memoir of my youth, then decided to set it to music. While driving to a solo gig, I was struck with the name, “The Red Guitar”. I started performing it that night, and things unfolded from there.

Is theatre (music) still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
I absolutely believe it is. A deconstruction of music in front of an audience can be breathtaking if done honestly and without condescension. You find the music connecting with universal human concerns, because it connects to the infinite, both in the physical and etheric realms. That’s what the final melody in the piece is about. The harmonic sequence, the triad, the 4th, the 6th, all have layers of meaning that seem universal.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I approached it as an experiment, the idea of monologue with music. After trying it in front of an audience, there seemed to be a richness there, a world to explore.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
In addition to guitar practice, I write a lot. When the language has a rhythm and a logic of its own, I try it with music. The main way of making the show, though, is to try bits of it in front of an audience. A lot of the piece was improvised into being.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
When I see a performance, I want a story, and a journey. I want to end up in a different place than where I started. In this piece, I make the trip, and hope that the audience takes it with me. Even if they’re on a different trip than I am, I would hope that they get a feeling of freedom, of possibility.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I didn’t have a strategy going in, only a sense of space opening up. When the form started to take shape, I saw three performers in one: the musician, the story teller, and the witness. I was surprised to feel the presence of all three, and wondered if, on some level, the audience would sense this.

John Sheldon - THE RED GUITAR Excerpts:

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