Sunday, 28 May 2017

No Dramaturgy Here: Stan Hodgson @ Edfringe 2017

No Miracles Here
Northern Stage at Summerhall, Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL Saturday 5th – Saturday 26th August 2017 (not 9th, 16th, 23rd), 11:00
The Letter Room bring a live and loud musical tale of a dance marathon with a Northern Soul. No Miracles Here is a story about what happens when we don't dare to stop, about living and breathing and not always feeling like you can. 

This is a story of dancing and how the band will keep playing the music even when you want to give up.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The Letter Room aim to make shows full of pulsating live music. We use different worlds and metaphors and styles of music to explore what it means to be living in the world today. 

No Miracles Here has been inspired by the dance marathons of the 1930s and Northern Soul All-Nighters to tell a story about mental health. We’ve been using the idea of dancing as a form of endurance, paralleling the feeling when you must keep going and not stop, because if you pause for too long, you’ll struggle to ever begin again. 

In these dance marathons, people would keep dancing for, sometimes, 19 days straight. We’re fascinated by this and trying to tackle an issue in an entirely new way.

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

I’m sure you’ll get a lot of biased responses but yes we absolutely think it is. Performance, in any form, taps into something that sitting down and rationally discussing things sometimes just can’t do. 

It has the capacity to distance you from an idea, in order to gain perspective, or it can throw you right into the middle of that idea, and really make you question it and feel it.

As far as No Miracles Here goes, there’s such a big national drive to talk more about mental health. Talking and listening are such core messages but, at the same time, it does need to be accepted that talking is still difficult. 

That was one of the reasons for making No Miracles Here. Can we be exploring aspects of life in different ways, and can that have an effect on the wider public discourse?

How did you become interested in making performance?

The company were formed by Northern Stage as a residency to get actors and theatre makers to keep making work in the region. Prior to that we all trained at different universities and drama schools. I think, like a lot of performers, a lot of us caught the drama bug after getting encouraged at school. I think that’s becoming a more difficult thing to do in schools at the moment.

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

Music is always our first port of call. As a devising company, sometimes it feels like you’re staring at a blank canvas, so creating sound and songs is a good way to take the first step. It can help create emotion and tension, and it also helps us create a world in which the show takes place.

We spent years wrangling with the term ‘Musical Theatre’, because of certain ‘Jazz Hands’ Connotations. We were like: “no, no we’re gig theatre, or music theatre, or theatre with live music”. But the more we grow, the more confident we are about identifying as a devising musical theatre company.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes I think it does. If anyone has seen our work before then they know that we like heightened characters, dark stories and, of course, music.

Where this show may be different is that we’re planning to be dancing all the way through. We’ve incorporated movement into our work in the past, but this is sort of next level stuff.  If they feel like they want to get up and dance with us at the end of show then we are all for that!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Our Producer Jake describes how music can make people feel ‘elevated’ and I think that’s a great way to think about how we want our audience to feel with all of our shows. We want them to walk out of the room with a bounce in their step and an earworm or two. 

Like they’ve been transported to a strange, exciting world for a brief time. In Edinburgh, our show is on at 11am, so we want to deliver something that properly kickstarts your fringe day.

However, I also think that because this show explores the themes of Mental Health, the show needs to go to those dark places. Making a raucous, up tempo musical that looks at depression is like walking a tightrope: on one side you have a piece that feels flippant and flimsy, and on the other side you have something so heavy that ultimately you can’t say all that you may want to say. 

Walking that tightrope been a really interesting challenge all the way through this process.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I think for us it’s about how do we create a world that the audience can step into when they walk into the auditorium. The design and aesthetic of our shows seems like a key part of that. Like they’ve walked into some strange, other-worldly gig!

No Miracles Here is an anthem to feeling alive, keeping the faith and trusting that you are not alone. Acclaimed company The Letter Room invite audiences to get ready to dance like they’re Northern in this sweat-soaked marathon of resilience and strength.

The Letter Room were inspired to make a musical about depression using the influences of 1930s Dance Marathons. Using the idea of dancing as a form of endurance, paralleling the feeling when you must keep going and not stop, because if you pause for too long, you’ll struggle to ever begin again. 

This is theatre tackling an issue in an entirely new way - No Miracles Here is raw and celebratory, honest and vibrant, full of pulsating live music.

No Miracles Here has been supported by the Royal Shakespeare Company, New Wolsey Theatre, Shoreditch Town Hall and Northern Stage. The show has also been supported by the charity Mind.
Stan Hodgson comments, No Miracles Here is going to be the strong Bloody Mary that kickstarts your Fringe day. 

Think 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They' meets Northern Soul vibes meets that scene in Little Miss Sunshine when all the family dance in the Beauty Pageant.

No comments :

Post a Comment