Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manly Dramaturgy: Temper-Mental Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

Presented By Temper-Mental Theatre
Edinburgh Fringe 2017 /14th- 19th August


Are the doors to the important things in your life always locked? Are all the awesome bits just out of reach? 

At the All male, male retreat for menTM Guru Nigel will show you how to grasp the long hard (door)knob to your life. It will be no walk in the park but a race; the race to find out where your knob can take you. Can Temper-Mental find their knobs and re-gain their masculinity?

TEMPER-MENTAL ARE Six averagely good-looking lads bringing the fun back to theatre with original devised comedy. “We want to leave the serious business to everyone else, this is proper fun night out where you can have a beer (or six) and leave with that warm tingly feeling that Chekhov,” says Nalin Dissanayake

theSpace on the Mile:
10:05pm 14th- 19th August 2017
Box Office: 0131 510 2382

Inspiration for our performance
This show is Temper-Mental's first show and it really epitomizes what we are all about. Fun. Throughout our degree at Middlesex University we found ourselves performing in shows that were all incredibly dramatic which just isn't what inspired to get into theatre. 

This is why we formed Temper-mental we want to make the type of theatre we love. Fun and light-hearted we want to make people laugh and Man Up's main objective is to make you laugh. 

After that we want to look at what it means to 'be a
man' nowadays we follow these characters to the 'All Male, Male retreat for men' and this is where they all try to 'Man Up' Our inspiration was in each other, none of us are exactly what you' call 'real men' and we wanted to make fun of that.

How did we become interested in theatre?

Again all of us loved the entertainment you can get from theatre both watching and performing, it really made us want to give people that fun they may not get from some of the shows that look issues in a real dark way. 

We became interested in theatre have discussions through making people laugh.

Approach to the show

We made this show because of our ability to tell
each other when we were and were not funny or making sense. Honesty really helps in our rehearsals and one of the main points for us is to always try everything anyone suggests. 

Even though some ideas may be completely out of no-where we will always give it a try and if its funny and can work, it'll go in the show. 

We have a great dynamic as we are all great mates, and our working relationship is boosted by that. I think you can see that in our work, we are having a great time performing it and had a stupid about of fun creating so hopefully that shows for the audience.

Does it fit other work we have done or will do?

'Man Up' @thespace on the mile is everyone's first chance to see the kind of work we want to carry on making this will be our professional debut and its a perfect representation of us. 

We think our sense of humour is clear in this show and in future shows that humour will follow over. We like to mix our comedy and this show is just the beginning of our experimentation with our humour. 

Audience Experience

We just want people to have fun at the theatre and leave not feeling any pressure to go change the worl but just in a good mood, we want people to drink and laugh and then have a good night after, we want to entertain you. So have a beer or six and come watch temper-mental theatre try and 'Man Up'.

CAST- Chris Adams, Elliott Lewis, James Thorne, Nalin Dissanayake, Dane Clements and James Hart
DESIGN- James Thorne, Nalin Dissanayake
TECHNICAL MANAGER- Nalin Dissanayake

Dramaturgy is the product of a bourgeois class consciousness

Welcome to jargon hell. I am your host, Gareth K Vile and tonight I want to tell you why dramaturgy is the reason that theatre is incapable of expressing anything other than the cultural values of capitalism.

Only joking: I love dramaturgy. And as one of the few people who actually knows what it is, I am the perfect guide to this tricky subject.

How do you like my new persona? I've been watching YouTube and finally realised that being arrogant is the best way to develop my cult of personality. Never mind the quality of argument, I have strong opinions.

As for dramaturgy: if Diderot isn't mentioned. the person describing it does not know what they are talking about. Back in the 1700s, Diderot initiated a conversation that led to the development of a new way of thinking about theatre. I've banged on about that quite enough elsewhere, but the basics are a focus on the live performance rather than the script, a move away from neo-classicism and, f course, the introduction of rationality in analysis and production.

That's your philosophical dramaturgy, mind. There is also practical dramaturgy - which is a fancy way of saying how a play gets made - and the dramaturg, a person with a specific role (in making theatre better). I'll be talking about philosophical dramaturgy today. 

I spent ages trying to understand dramaturgy, developing a hypothesis about it that recognised its essential political component. I was well pissed off when I found that Georg Lukacs summed it up in bout 1910 when he said 'modern drama is bourgeois' and that the nineteenth century saw the first class conscious theatre, articulating the battle between the bourgeois and the aristocrats. Still, at least we agreed.

Philosophical dramaturgy provides the hidden assumptions about theatre that inform the other types of dramaturgy. 

Hang on - this is my PhD. Watch while I try to put this into a blog post. Ambitious, much?

So - assumptions, right? Hidden away in theatre is this philosophical dramaturgy, which drives considerations of what makes good theatre. It's so omnipresent, it is invisible, inaudible, tasteless. It's a mash-up of enlightenment thought, a bit of Aristotle, social theory, audience analysis. It isn't systematic, more a collection of ideas petrified by time and tradition. 

I'm not interested in practical dramaturgy, except I totally am... it's just that it doesn't prove my point as easily. In the tradition of philosophers until about 1980, I am going to generalise about theatre without actually giving examples. Or footnotes.

But now for a word from our sponsors, and I'll be back after a break. Remember the take-home: philosophical dramaturgy is the hidden engine behind theatre, and it expresses a bourgeois manifesto. Enjoy the adverts...

Monday, 22 May 2017

Dumbstruck Dramaturgy: Sam Goodburn @ Edfringe 2017

Sam Goodburn: Dumbstruck
Presented by Underbelly and Sam Goodburn
Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Button), 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JX
Thursday 3rd – Sunday 27th August 2017 (not 14th), 14:40

Dumbstruck, a world premiere by multi-award-winning performer Sam Goodburn, tells the story of an endearing young man taking his first steps into adulthood. This exciting lo-fi circus show features offbeat comedy, world class unicycling, juggling, knife throwing and impeccable feats with sliced bread.

Dumbstruck takes place ‘the morning after’ as Sam creeps around a girl’s apartment, collecting his discarded clothes from the night before; as he wonders what on earth he’s doing, he learns that his introverted nerdiness can actually be joyous, empowering and just a little bit charming.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I find circus performances that tell a story, however simple, are hugely interesting. There is a hula hooper called Annabel Carberry who I watched in a cabaret in Blackpool in 2014 who tries to pour a glass of wine whilst keeping the hoop going. 

The hoop becomes normal, it is always there and it has to be there and it leads to excellent situation comedy. You can see the same premise in Dumbstruck - every circus trick is used to complete a task or fix a problem.

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

I love those brief moments in shows when the audience are so completely absorbed in the rhythm or the scene that they forget themselves. Not many other media can make you feel connected with the performers and see things through their eyes in the same way. 

You have the audiences undivided attention unlike most other forms of entertainment. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I become interested in making performance accidentally. When I was 18, I joined a traditional circus as a unicyclist. The clown was in a traffic accident and left the show. With no time to find a replacement and a full house that night, I was naive enough to think I could fill in, the owners agreed and I bodged together and improvised four clown acts. 

Nothing went to plan, everything messed up. And
it was very funny, just not in the way I had intended. I've been creating comedy material and messing up ever since. 

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

I spent a long time training and inventing tricks with everyday objects with just a rough guide in my head of what might happen in the show. In rehearsals we wrote the show chronologically finding the comedy naturally as the world unfolded. Lots of tricks I know haven’t been used, but having a big artillery to choose from meant the blend of visual comedy, circus and theatre does not feel at all strange.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I am most in demand for shows as a unicyclist and the comedy character and all my other skills come second. Which is great, but it usually becomes a game of which is the most impressive trick I can do right that’s 100% consistent.  What I like about the show Dumbstruck is if you took out all of the circus skills out it would still be a great show. The tricks aren't just there to impress but to push the narrative and create hilarious situations. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I would like the audience to come away feeling like children again. The show is about finding ways to enjoy and play with everyday situations even when things are getting perpetually worse. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

As I am writing this there are still 4 days left of creation so who knows where the ending could go. But things we have considered on the journey are a toaster that fires bread when you're not looking, an inflatable sofa that surfs the audience and a line of 40 beer bottles used to unicycle across the top of. Only 66% of these ideas have made it into the show!

Directed by renowned clown Fraser Hooper, Dumbstruck showcases the amazing skills of Underbelly’s Circus Maximus Winner - a competition held at the Udderbelly Festival on London’s South Bank to find an exciting new circus performer.

Underbelly director Ed Bartlam comments, Underbelly are delighted to welcome Circus Maximus winner Sam Goodburn to the Fringe this year. Circus Maximus was created to discover and nurture homegrown circus talent and to give young performers a chance to showcase their work on an international platform at the world’s biggest arts festival. Sam was chosen for his outstanding skills and creativity in the 2015 Circus Maximus competition and we are very much looking forward to his Edinburgh debut.

Director Fraser Hooper comments, I'm thrilled to be working with Sam Goodburn on this new exciting project. His unique skill set combined with his ease at making audiences laugh is such a great recipe for creating a wonderful circus comedy show.

Not a clue, to be honest

Political and Individual Tragedies...

The problem of political theatre is that it is, almost by definition, partisan. The danger that its content will overpower its expression undermines the vision of the playwright or the ability of the audience to interpret against the grain of the production.

Georg Lukacs (On the Sociology of Theatre, 1909 and translated 1965) claims that 'modern drama is bourgeois drama' and traces its development from the German playwrights of the eighteenth century. Before then, he says, the playwright relied on 'the common bond of religion' to connect to his audience. The bourgeois drama, however, foregrounds rationalism and an environmental determinism, as well as an interest in a variety of social classes. Shakespeare, by contrast, only wrote of an aristocratic class, with the commoners reserved for the occasional bout of comedic fun.

Lukacs sees the coming of the bourgeois drama as a radical shift: Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, the neo-classical theatre, Passion plays and, presumably, the street theatres and circus traditions of which he does not speak are all gathered under a vague, pre-enlightenment rubric in which religious sensibility trumps theatrical form.

Historicism - a resistance to the abstract? A preoccupation with time and space and their specifics. A form of relativism? A challenge to a rationalism that forms absolute foundations?

Where is the line between 'individualism' amd 'bourgeois'? Are they not expressions of a similar impulse?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Forgetting Dramaturgy: Guillaume Pigé @ Edfringe 2017

The Nature of Forgetting
Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ Thursday 3rd – Sunday 27th August 2017 (not 14th), 12:00

Following a sell-out run at the 2017 London International Mime Festival, Theatre Re’s The Nature of Forgetting is a powerful, explosive and joyous piece about what is left when memory and recollection are gone. It is part of British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2017.

Tom has just turned 55. As he dresses for his birthday party, tangled threads of disappearing memories spark him into life, unravelling as a tale of friendship, love and guilt. This ambitious project with actors, mimes and musicians has been created in collaboration with UCL Neuroscience Professor Kate Jeffery and inspired by interviews and workshops with organisations such as the Alzheimer's Society. 

While the medium of performance may be an unusual resource for the transmission of science, it shines a light on issues around memory that offers a new perspective.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The Nature of Forgetting started with a question:
what is eternal? Or more specifically what is left when memory is gone? To find answers we dived into the world of memories and forgetting. 

We collaborated with UCL Neuroscience Professor Kate Jeffery to explore what it means to forget and what actually happens in the brain when we forget. We also interviewed older members of the community as well as people living with dementia and their carers to create links between the science and the real human experience.

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

I think performance is a good trigger for fascinating discussions because it helps us to develop our empathy. It helps us to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and see the world through his or her eyes.

With The Nature of Forgetting, we don't pretend that we portray on stage what it is like to be living with early onset dementia, but we give a glimpse of what it can be like. We provide a change of perspective and that change can be enlightening and lead to the public discussion of ideas such as why providing extensive care for people living with dementia, what sort of care is needed and also how to train people to be more dementia friendly. 

It is as if the role of the artist was to reveal or unveil inner truths about the human condition and share the result of his or her exploration with an audience. Performance seems to be a rehearsal for life.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I first trained as an actor and then as a director and then I fell in love with Mime. To me, Mime is about making the portrait of something (an thought, an idea, an emotion...etc) with something else (a body, an object, the voice...etc). It is about creating metaphors on stage to communicate, and I find it to be the most beautiful and powerful thing in the world because it triggers the audience's imagination.

With The Nature of Forgetting, our main question was: what is left when memory is gone? We did not find the answer. We could not find the answer. So we made a show about it, in other word we created a metaphor to give a flavour of the answer. And that flavour turned out to be more real and tangible than any answers.

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

As a company we work very collaboratively, we take time and we constantly open the doors of our rehearsal room to share/test our work.

We engaged with a lot of people throughout the development process. A lot of the work happened in rehearsal, but many discoveries were also made while researching for the project, interviewing experts in the field of memory and public health, engaging with people living with dementia and their carer.

When in the rehearsal room, we started by moving and improvising. A few objects became very rapidly central to the piece like the wooden school desks, for instance. Most of our initial little scenes did not make much sense and were completely unrelated. It is only little by little, through constant and regular adjustments and regular dramaturgy sessions, where we questioned every choices, that very slowly a piece appeared. It seems very similar to sculpting in that sense. It was a process of constant refinement. And it still is.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes and no.

Yes, because we sweat a lot. It is very physical and visual and I think people will relate to the work in a deep and intuitive way. The whole piece is also being supported by a live musical score specially composed by Alex Judd.

No, because we have never had so many things and performers on stage. There is a lot of stuff, so it is not as minimal as our previous productions, where only a couple of objects were used to their maximal potential. It is also our most narratively driven piece to date.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I would like the audience to come out of the theatre with both a smile on their face and a tear in their eye, having experienced the fragility of life.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I tried to give a real portrait of what it means to forget. By real, I don't mean natural or naturalistic but true. It comes back to the idea of creating metaphors on stage and how these metaphors can help  us get closer to the unspeakable truth that we are trying to communicate to the audience.

Director Guillaume Pigé comments, The Nature of Forgetting is not about dementia. It is about the fragility of life and that eternal ‘something’ we all share that is left when memory is gone. Our collaboration with Professor Kate Jeffery and our interviews with people living with dementia and their carers have resulted in a life-affirming journey into a weakening mind, where broken does not have to mean defeated.

The development process for The Nature of Forgetting lasted for 16 months, funded by Arts Council England. The piece is co-commissioned by the London International Mime Festival, The Point and South Hill Park.

Established in 2009, Theatre Re is a London-based international ensemble creating thought- provoking, tangible and poignant work. Its shows examine fragile human conditions, in a compelling, physical style embracing mime, theatre and live music.

Dramaturgy Speaks: Sarah Thom @ Edfringe 2017

Jimmy Jewell presents 
Beak Speaks 
A masterclass with the self-proclaimed Queen of the British Fringe

Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly), 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JX
Thursday 3rd – Monday 28th August 2017 (not 14th, 21st), 16:00

After over 30 years of working in, under and around the British Fringe Theatre Circuit, Gillian Beak finally bares all and shares a lifetime of theatrical insights and anecdotes.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Gillian Beak was a character I invented in the back of a van whilst going slightly crazy on an overlong tour about 15 years ago.  I’ve always wanted to do a show with her and this finally seems to be the moment to unleash the Beak.  The inspiration is Fringe Theatre - in all its brilliance, inspirations, oddities, pretensions and idiosyncrasies.

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

Yes absolutely.  There is nothing quite like the live experience.  It’s true, of course, that technology has had a massive spike recently but when, and if, it works there’s nothing to match live communication. (I have officially turned into Gillian Beak).

How did you become interested in making performance?

I started acting with my family at quite a young age in the local dramatic society; all my family were involved - grandparents, parents, my sister, aunties, uncles, great aunties, great uncles, cousins, the lot. But, I probably became interested in making work via my training, firstly at Exeter University and then with Jacques Lecoq in Paris. From then I went to work with many devising companies, including Kaos, Ophaboom, Trestle - when they were all about mask - and Foursight Theatre.

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

As it’s a one woman show I’m mixing quite a bit of writing with working in a rehearsal room, attempting to apply various devising techniques I’ve used along the way. I’m also working with James Greaves, with whom I created the last show I did in Edinburgh, Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain  (at Assembly in 2011). James is working with me as a dramaturg to hopefully make sense of my meanderings. I’m attempting to blend a fictional narrative and character with true happenings, so it’s a real mixture of imagination, research and memories. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

No, not really. This is quite a different route for me. I have always loved comedy and making comedic characters, but I have done a good deal of straight theatre and group- devised work. Last year I was commissioned to make a one-woman piece for the Equilibrium Vintage Humans Festival at Southwark Playhouse, Bright Orange Flowers, which I found a very inspiring experience. 

Even though this is a different genre, I am attempting to mirror the process I used to create that to develop Beak Speaks. Since working with BBC Radio Comedy on Clare in the Community, I’ve been inspired to revisit some of my earlier comedic ideas and I’m attempting to apply all my devising experience to making a more comedic one-woman show.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope … the audience will have an amusing hour, that leaves them wondering if truth might indeed be stranger than fiction. I’m also hoping to create a little bit of a homage to the fringe, but we’ll see how we go!

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I have always been very fascinated by the live experience. This fascination probably came to the fore when I co-created the site-specific company, Angels in the Architecture - we did shows in non-traditional spaces such as Aldwych Tube, a women’s refuge, an old chapel and Kensington Palace! I’ve always loved the idea that the audience are entering a real space. 

For Beak Speaks, I very much want them to feel like they are coming into Gillian’s studio and that there is a real feeling of live event rather than reported action. That is not to say that there won’t be a little of both, but I am hoping that each show will feel very immediate, and that some will be improvised dependent on the audience so that every performance will be slightly different.

Beak Speaks is a character comedy based on the life and times of Gillian Beak. Accompany the doyenne of the Fringe as she takes you through her masterclass, reminiscing about the infamous techniques that shaped her young protégée, Tamsin Bush, how it all went wrong with the frightfully well connected Bryan Gambon du Pont (co-creator of Go! Theatre) as well as one young upstart who she claims she taught everything he knows, Miles Jupp.

Miles gallantly declares, If I was 10 years younger Gillian Beak would already be my ex-wife.

Beak Speaks is staged by kind permission of Sarah Thom, heard frequently as Joan on Radio 4's Clare in the Community and less frequently on In and Out of the Kitchen and Rudy's Rare Records, and seen on BBC TV's Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle and Not Going Out. In 2013 Sarah made the top 20 ‘One to Watch’ list for the Funny Women Comedy Writing Awards.

Thom comments, Gillian Beak has been incubating for several years now so it's good to finally let her spread her wings. A large section is pure Beak, and daft as it is, some is genuinely inspired by what happened to a young Thom as I sewed my seeds as an actor in London. A while ago I set up a workshop at The Actors Centre, London run by Gillian Beak - the participants were in the know, but it yielded some rather interesting insights... I've loved working more in comedy in recent years and am very much looking forward to unleashing the Beak.

Join Gillian Beak on her spectacular journey as she lets you peek behind the magic curtain to see that the whole world is indeed a stage. Finally, Beak speaks....

Powder Dramaturgy: Ross McCaffrey @ Edfringe 2017

Powder Keg presents: Morale Is High (Since We Gave Up Hope)

Thrashy, energetic gig theatre smashing together pop and politics to create an up-to-the-minute evaluation of our political climate.

Part of Northern Stage at Summerhall, Tech Cube, 5 - 20 August 2017, 22:15 (23:15)

A fast paced, raucous performance from the Hodgkiss Award winners weaving together time travel, intertwining narratives and songs performed live on guitar to predict what might happen between now and a future general election in 2022. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The idea formed just before the 2015 General election and ended up being a response to its result. I tried to picture where I would be in my life just before the next one, which at the time was going to be 2020, and how five years of a Tory majority was going to affect me and the people around me. Then Josh and Jake suggested we create a reality where I can time travel, go and see what happens and come back to tell everyone. 

Then Emma and I went away and tried to write as much as humanly possible. The main inspiration I think, and I think this goes for all of us, is pitting the ideas of individualism and collectivism against each other, and seeing where we as people fit into that dichotomy. 

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

I think so yes. It all depends on what the subject is and who’s telling it. I also think it can only be a good space if it’s accessible. We have a policy of care in Powder Keg, we look after each other, and I feel the same respect needs to be given to the people that come and see our work. I think without that, using theatre to publicly discuss ideas can fall a bit flat. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I played in bands for ages when I was a teena
ger and then went to a college where there was no-one interested in playing heavy metal music with me. My music teacher put me in the band for one of the college productions and all the people acting in it seemed like they were having the most fun in the world. So the next year I auditioned for the production and took it from there! 

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

Emma and I wrote the initial first draft together and brought it into the rehearsal room where the four of us started to piece a story together. Then the EU referendum happened, David Cameron resigned and Britain got a bit chaotic. So we had to go back, cut big chunks and re-write others. 

Then Donald Trump got elected and another general election got called, so we’ve got a few weeks after the 8th June to update certain things that might not make sense anymore. We do our best to keep things current and that helps keep the show fresh, but fortunately there’s a few plot points that can stick so we don’t get too bogged down with writing and can focus on devising. 

We set ourselves some guidelines; we didn’t want the show to preach, we wanted to challenge our own beliefs and the beliefs of our audiences, and we absolutely wanted to avoid talking down to people. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our first full length show as a company. We spent years doing 15-20 minute pieces and installations where we figured out what we wanted our style to be. We all come from musical backgrounds in some shape or form so the majority of our pieces feature live music. 

Morale is High fits with our previous work in that respect, but also because of its DIY feel. It’s something that grew out of necessity more than anything else, but it’s something that we’ve adapted into our regular practice. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Hopefully the audience will come away feeling politically invigorated. It’s quite a funny show behind all the uncertainty of the future so hopefully they’ll have enjoyed themselves! The show is fun, and we want people to have fun, but also think about where we all stand in the world and how we go about our daily lives. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Josh had the idea of staging the piece as an old variety performance, so Jake and I experimented with the idea of a comedy double act. We watch a lot of comedy so I guess we imitated people we look up to and tried to see where it fit into the narrative. A lot of the piece is told to the audience directly, and we involve them pretty much from the beginning. This is a show that knows it’s a show, by that I mean we constantly acknowledge the fact that people have come to see us and are sitting and watching our show. 

Powder Keg’s double act Fringe debut performance explores the effects of popular culture, political policy and inane day-to-day actions on who we choose to vote for. 

Moving from the present to the future and back, Ross McCaffrey travels to 2022 and returns to warn the audience and his best mate Jake about the failures of contemporary politics and the punishment doled out to society. 

Ross tells stories of meeting Michael Gove, feeling displaced from his home town and a drug induced water slide incident that happens in Barcelona. But what is Jake not telling Ross? 

Is this a report on the future of politics or just a platform for Ross to show off about his time travelling adventures? A raw, up-to-the-minute performance for our current times of political uncertainty channeling a gamut of emotion from anger to apathy, passion and despair. 

Josh Coates from Powder Keg said: “Morale is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) was first made whilst the campaign trail for Brexit was going full pelt. We're now having to re-write the show because of a snap general election. Oh boy. Morale is High is a show about a constantly shifting and baffling political climate and how to survive it. It's part funeral satire and part time travelling buddy adventure. It's a show that aims to create a sense of the public grieving that’s been happening in response to current election results yet attempts to laugh in the face of shock through songs and wank jokes." 

Powder Keg is a Manchester-based theatre company who formed in 2013. They are best friends who make fast paced, experiential, anarchic performances. They tell stories and transform spaces, creating pieces to engage and challenge audiences. They have created work for many places, including a pub cellar, a field in Manchester, and a shopping trolley. 

They use a process of consensus decision-making to create and develop their pieces, which gives them the freedom to apply individually held skills to each aspect of whatever piece they are working on. They challenge themselves and their practice to consistently push themselves out of their theatrical comfort zone.

Northern Stage in Newcastle has a reputation for breathing new life into classic texts, curating ambitious and sometimes daring contemporary theatre and working with thousands of people every year in a strong participation programme. 

This is the 6th year that Northern Stage has hosted a programme at the Edinburgh Fringe, presenting some of the most interesting theatre from across the north of England and beyond, in partnership with Royal Exchange Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Hull Truck Theatre. 

Performers Ross McCaffrey Jake Walton Creative Team Devised and created by the performers, Emma Geraghty and Josh Coates Morale is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) has been developed with the help of Theatre Delicatessen in Sheffield and the kindness of Partisan Collective.

Bastard Dramaturgy: Simon Jay @ N16

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I was asked to write a book that was published last year; which was a memoir about growing up gay, developing mental health problems and how I recovered from a severe breakdown using my love for creativity. It was a bestseller on Amazon, it opened a dialogue with various communities. I read the book at RVT, KuBar, SOAS, Durham University LGBT society - and I found that engagement worked best to get the message of the book out there. 

I've always loved 'evening with...' or 'audience with...' type shows of yesteryear, there are some great anecdotal ones like Quentin Crisps, where he shares the secret of happiness or Kenneth Williams' stories and songs beautifully presented - I guess I've mixed that in with a bit of David Hoyle and industrial soundscapes - go figure ;) 

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

Definitely; live shows are now a luxury for many people - sitting in audiences, especially when there are Q and As - I try to make my shows as interactive as possible. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I'm a very anxious person, the only time I feel comfortable is being on stage; I did a lot of performance at school, assemblies and like, and it developed out of that. Since then I realise it's a great way to bring people together too. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
I've taken elements from the book; the anecdotal comic style and the serious points and adapted them for the stage. The show is all new material; I focus a lot on what's happened since the book, and where it's taken me. I don't want it to be a dull 'reading' or anything like that. I want it to be a theatrical show - there's a lot of stagecraft, costume and sound in it - it is its own beast, and accessible for someone who hasn't read the book or may not even want to. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
I think it's unique, it's the first time I'm playing myself, usually I try and play people a million miles from who I am; Donald Trump, a ninety year old woman etc. This time I'm playing a 29 year old gay guy having a gender identity crisis - I doubt it'll be a stretch. I want to try new techniques I haven't in previous productions, there is a lot of scope for experimentation with this story.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
That you can talk about serious and uncomfortable issues; suicide attempts, gay hate crimes, Katie Hopkins - in an original and entertaining way - it'll be funny but sobering, to the point but not preachy. By the end I want the audience to be comfortable enough to ask anything or share anything about sexuality, mental health or being creative. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

It's all about creating a safe space, once people realise you're not there to humiliate them or make them think a certain way, that you're genuinely there to entertain them and engage with them they open up like Venus fly-traps. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Zombie Dramaturgy: Thomas Gorham @ Edfrige 2017

Underbelly and Head First Acrobats present: 
Venue: The Beauty, The Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017
Dates: Fri 4th August – Sat 26 August, (not 9th, 14th or 21st), 22.15pm

Thought science wasn’t sexy? Enter Elixir, making a killer return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With a potent mix of chemical balance and imbalance, new school death defying acrobatics, old school slapstick and an injection of Australian testosterone, Elixir will challenge perceptions and set pulses racing.

Elixir is circus with a difference! Uninhibited by cliché or expectation, subversive and hilarious, this all Australian production follows the story of three enthusiastic, slightly bumbling yet skilfully acrobatic scientists who attempt to create the elixir of life. 

The mayhem that follows is a beautiful mix of incredible acrobatics and impeccable comic timing. The scientists test their concoctions on themselves, and the madness that breaks loose in the laboratory is the perfect mix of amazing acrobatics, comedic misadventure and an engrossing narrative.

More than just jokes, thrills and spills, Melbourne based Head First Acrobats have re-crafted the smash hit 2016 show that sees them not only raise the dead but throw them, spin them and test whether zombies can bounce. 

Acrobats fly five metres into the air on the teeterboard, spin upside down on the mesmerizing cyr wheel, perform incredible one-arm handstands on wobbling canes and balance on nothing but their heads on the swinging trapeze. 

What was the inspiration for this performance? 
The zombie character was my (Thomas Gorham) show case piece at NICA for graduation. The concept of the show was originally a justification for having zombies - haha

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Performance is a great space for the public discussion of ideas. If something comes up that challenges you in some way, you’re unlikely to leave - it’s very easy to hit next on YouTube but you can't do that in the theatre - you have to get out of your chair to leave.
How did you go about gathering the team for it? 
Cal and I hit it off building a teeter board together, then we practiced some hand to hand and felt yeah we can do this. Rowan was in Cal’s year at school and had a great drunk clown piece that we felt suited the show, so we recruited him and have been working together ever since.
How did you become interested in making performance?
Break dance competitions were my first forms of performance. They were the original spark for me for moving in front of people. 
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
There is a lot of laughter and a lot of arguing and a lot of chaos. We seem to operate best in chaos.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Elixir was our first production, and has set the tone for our two follow up shows. Our childrens show, Arrr We There Yet, is also narrative circus and our cabaret show has some sexy comedy. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Everybody leaves the theater with a genuine sense of joy and happiness. If this can continue, that is all I hope for.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 
We honestly were just being ourselves as entertainers, we are stupid and funny and can do insane stuff with our bodies; we just do it.

The three members of Head First Acrobats (HFA) are all graduates of the National Institute of
Circus Arts (NICA). Based out of Melbourne, the award winning entertainment company provide world-class circus and physical theatre performance. Elixir is the first show from the company which toured internationally in 2016 to sell out shows and rave reviews. Elixir was voted in the top 10 shows of Adelaide Fringe in 2015, and won the First and Foremost Entertainment award in its UK debut at Brighton Fringe 2015.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Assessment Dramaturgy: Robert Dawson Scott @ Edfringe 2017

What are we going to do with all the old people?

by Robert Dawson Scott

What’s your life worth? That’s the question at the heart of “Assessment”, a timely new play by theatre critic turned playwright Robert Dawson Scott which will be premiered at the Gilded Balloon’s new Rose Street venue at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In the very near future, a new government is grappling with the ever-rising pensions bill. Already it represents one pound in every five of government spending. So it has come up with an offer; a lump sum in exchange for your future pension rights. 

There’s just one condition; and pensioner Alan McDonald isn’t having any of it.  But what begins as a Swiftian satire - on austerity, arms length quasi-government organisations and family values - morphs into something more personal, more reflective and more damning about what it means to be old in Britain today. 

With the end of the triple-lock pension deal firmly on the political agenda, “Assessment” is set to be one of the most talked about shows at this year’s Fringe.

An all star cast from Scotland is led by Stephen Clyde (Best Actor – Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2012), with Karen Bartke (star of Scot Squad and winner of the Norman Beaton Fellowship in BBC Radio Drama 2016).

Gilded Balloon: Rose Street, Basement
August 3 – 28 (not 15)

What was the inspiration for this performance?
A number of things; the question which heads up the press release (What are we going to do about all the old people? - aka the democratic timebomb), the shocking beahviour of companies like Atos (the welrare assessments) and Capita (setting target for BBC licence fee collection); Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"; my own advancing years (I'm 60) may have been a factor (mortality and all that).

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
I hope so. I think I'd say the dramatisation of idea (through character) rather than "discussion" but the three-dimensional, personal, shared in the moment experience of theatre is still like nothing else.

How did you become interested in making performance?
So long ago can barely remember. Doing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at primary school? Being taken to sumptuous red and gold splendour the Royal Opera House as a child to the ballet? Acting and directing shows at University (a welcome relief from the Law books)? But then I decided I wasnt good enoguh to do it myself and became a writer about theatre rather than for it. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a 40 year master class as a critic

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Not really; but the text is important (as you would expect from a journalist. This is not some visual fantasy - not that there's anything wrong with that - but it does have narrative drive, a plot, stuff like that. Wildly unfashionable, therefore!

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
No; my previous shows was described by one reviewer  as "a summer pantomime with added history" and it was set in the 19th century. This is naturalistic and set in the future (though only just) and more serious altogether.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
There are three points, perhaps four if we're lucky,  where I hope they will shudder. And then I hope they will have animated conversation with their freinds and partners about the issues the play throws up. 

Some will be outraged, others will say it's all too plausible, one or two may be upset (though that's not the intention).  

What strategies have you used to enable this experience?
Not sure what you mean by this; the shudders are at turning points or revelations in the play. The animated conversation should be driven by the dramatisation of the issues and their audiences; sympathies for or against the characters. If we do it right.

The production is directed by Alice Langley, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland MA directing course, and produced by Effie Scott and her Shows on a Shoestring company which brought “Coup de Grace” to Sweet venues at Fringe 2016.

Village Pub Dramaturgy: Caitlin Skinner @ Traverse

VPT: As We Make It- Traverse Theatre

We’ve got something cooking. Village Pub Theatre make our way up town to The Traverse Theatre to present a bunch of rehearsed readings of new plays by four playwrights from our writing collective. Each night will be completely different with fresh ideas still in the making.

From Rosanna Hall’s dramatic exploration of how the war in Iraq war haunts the pavements of Leith Walk, Giles Conisbee’s tender story of one man’s quest to find his purpose, Sylvia Dow’s playful exploration of belief and Grace Cleary’s vivid account of a criminal justice rehabilitation hostel, these are plays coming close to the boil and we’re ready to share them with you.

Enjoy some quality fresh new work, as we make it.

Village Pub Theatre (VPT) is a new writing theatre company based in a pub in Leith, Edinburgh.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Village Pub Theatre has always been a small space for writers to connect with an audience and to take risks through short, sharp and direct plays. This project is the start of us exploring what it might be like to do that on a slightly larger scale. 

We have four bigger plays, each about 40 to 60 minutes in length, each involving characters and situations that will be easy to identify with but that also take on some of the biggest questions facing us today.

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

I think performance allows us to step into another person's shoes in a really meaningful way, as artists and as audience, and it feels important for us to do that right now to be able to discuss ideas. 

At the Village Pub Theatre we try to create events that have an informality and social nature to them to encourage that connection with each other before, after and in-between the plays. Although the content of the plays is often contributing to the discussion of ideas, VPT also takes on the responsibility for creating an environment where it is that little bit easier for audiences to talk to each other too. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I grew up in a really small village where everyone chipped in to help out with the gala day and the playgroup, bonfire night etc and when I was 11 me and my friend decided to set up a dance company in the village hall. That gave me this feeling that all you needed was a bunch of like minded people who were into the same things that you were into and as long as you had that you could make anything happen. That was the bug I caught and I’ve been doing that ever since. 

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

This project is really about us exploring what a bigger Village Pub Theatre play might be and that has to be led by the playwrights who make up the collective. So the focus is on supporting the writers in making bold work that can really communicate with an audience. 

It's a bit of an experiment as to how we do that. Each piece is on a different journey so we’ve been exploring various ways of opening up the plays, discovering what is in them already, and supporting the writers in making those big choices. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It was an interesting process in deciding which plays to do as we had to ask ourselves what a Village Pub Theatre play is for the first time. These works are different in that they are longer and in that we hope at some point, in some form or another, these will be fully produced, were as our usual work is mostly script in hand, staged readings. 

We will perform these as readings but we will be thinking more about what the finished production will be like. So that’s an interesting departure but I think the style of the work will feel familiar to regular VPT goers. It think like much of our work there is an edginess to the plays, an irreverence and a playfulness. 

Two of the plays are set in Leith, one in Edinburgh and a couple of them are playing with direct audience address, something that works very well in the pub. I think they have a VPT feel about them but the whole project is also about trying to discover more about what that is so perhaps we will need to wait and see. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will experience stories and ideas that they can relate to and that they think are important. I hope they will experience the energy of these fresh new voices and enjoy the ways in which these plays explore new territories. I also think the evening's will feel relaxed, warm and have the same community feel that all VPT events have. We really want to know what people think about these plays and their future so hopefully it will be a good night out that you feel a part of. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We always host our nights, by that I mean there is always someone introducing the plays and the artists involved so that audiences feel like they can start up a conversation with us. Its part theatre, part clubhouse and everyone’s a member! The readings at the Traverse will have that feeling. 

Each night will probably engage with the audience in slightly different ways because we genuinely want to have a conversation about these plays and they all need something different. Some will feel really informal, some might have full discussions as part of the evening and we will try to find some other creative ways to get people involved too. 

7th June 8pm
Tiny by Rosanna Hall
Leith shore to North Bridge. It's 10 years since Iraq and for ten years Iraqi ex-veteran Scott has tried to make the last, remaining steps back home to his old life, partner and daughter. However 'back to normal' whatever that means becomes increasingly difficult as trauma infects his sense of self, alienating his family during blackouts that leave him back at the top of North Bridge ready to jump with unaccounted-for blood on his shoes.

This modern reworking of the Odyssey looks at vicarious trauma, victory, connection and how lives can be shaped by both small and huge political acts. 

8th June 8pm
By Giles Conisbee
Sean can't believe how good he feels performing random acts of kindness.
Now that he's found his calling in life, and fallen in love in a most unexpected way,
not even his Mother can stop him. A touching, funny and surprising story of love,
letting-go and the power of purpose - not to mention bananas and bongos!

15th June 8pm
Maven by Sylvia Dow

Maven is about belief - what we believe, why we believe. In a world of fake news and false prophets how can we tell what and who is true? Thomas the Guardian and his followers must decide which path to take when a new member joins their group and shakes their faith in their beliefs and in themselves. 

16th June 8pm
Safe House by Grace Cleary

How do we feel when we lose control of our lives or our situation? Safe House examines the issues of power and control through an often darkly comic lens. Grace Cleary’s fascinating play presents a motley crew of characters: Conflicted staff members, a student, a sinister resident and a paedophile, thrown together and trapped within a rehabilitation care hostel, fighting for their survival.

Performed script-in-hand by a stellar cast, this is a powerful first play. Prepare to experience a medley of emotions.