Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Jumpy Dramaturgy: Cora Bissett @ The Lyceum

The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company presents Jumpy, a frank and funny family drama written by April De Angelis and directed by award-winning Scottish director Cora Bissett, who provides a distinctly Scottish twist this hit West End comedy.

April De Angelis’ irreverent comedy charts the perils of growing up and growing old with refreshing candour in this examination of mother/daughter relationships that’s instantly, hilariously relatable for anyone who has ever been tempted to open the wine before unpacking the shopping.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The play was suggested to me by David Greig. He said he knows I normally tackle big social issues, but would really like to see me take on a comedy. He gave me various options, but I just really connected with this one.

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

I fundamentally believe so, yes.

How did you become interested in making performance?
It’s just always been there. From making puppet shows in my bedroom to inviting all the neighbours to shows in the garden – I was never ‘starry eyed’ waiting for some ‘break’, I just always made stuff and then invited folk to see it.

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

This is a far more traditional approach than I’m used to. I would say, if anything, my approach is really just to let great, intuitive, experienced actors find their way and allow them the space to play, experiment and find the balance of depth and humour. I have a fantastic cast.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Not really. Usually, I am creating a new show from scratch and developing the script as we go, often with lots of other elements. This is a completed play, already very much ‘tried and tested’, so it’s more traditional for me, but no less fun for that.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they recognise aspects of their own lives – that they find comfort and humour, and reflect on what it means to have a ‘successful’ relationship, whether it’s a marriage or parent/offspring relationship. 

You might think at first this play doesn’t deal with world shifting narratives and yet it’s about growing older, growing up, rearing children, losing children to the world, losing yourself, finding a point...

It’s about struggling on through and actually these are the epic stories of all our lives. I hope people feel ‘not alone’ when they watch it, and see the humour in their own lives.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

There are a lot of ‘jumps’ in time throughout the piece, which are never stipulated. In order to create a journey from one to the other, I’ve used a lot of musical transitions, which help us either linger on the last moment, or propel us to the next scene. 

I’ve got Martha Wainwright, Mogwai, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, alongside Kelis, Niki Minaj, Florence and the Machine – oh, and a pretty messed up dance to Patti Smith! I’m deliberately playing with past and present representations of ‘strong women’ in music, since the play ask the question ‘how does each generation understand the term ‘strong women’?’.

The production stars Pauline Knowles (Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland’s Best Female Performance award-winner for This Restless House) as Hilary, the wine-sodden protagonist and Molly Vevers as Tilly, her mutinous teenage daughter.

They are joined by Richard Conlon as Roland, Cameron Crighton as Cam, Keiran Gallacher as Josh, Dani Heron as Lynsey, Stephen McCole as Mark, Lucianne McEvoy as Bea, and Gail Watson as Frances.

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