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.

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