Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Sides of the Dramaturgy: Jack Brownridge Kelly @ Edfringe 2017

 “It’s not only a wall that divides us, but it’s my past and your future.”

Two Sides of the Curtain will take place on August 14th -19th at 19.05. every evening. @ theSpace on North Bridge (V36) North Bridge. 

Erich and Ada are separated by one of history’s most famous man-made divisions; the Berlin Wall. They both live in times where global and personal shifts are throwing their futures in to disillusionment. 

But the times that Erich and Ada live in are not the same. When Erich journeys to the other side, he not only crosses an ideological line but a temporal one as well, travelling 25 years in to the past. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I have always been interested in many aspects of Berlin history, perhaps romanticizing the city at times, but one thing that really stands out for me is the Berlin Wall which I always thought would be a perfect setting for the stage. 

Concept wise, the fact that a country could be split and then pushed into an ideological war with each other after it had been so united through the hate of Nazism is universally relatable to humanity’s reliance on space and place. 

The aim with this play was to explore the distinction (if any) between these two things and make this relevant to the current day, in a world that is once again putting heavy emphasis on borders.

The concept of ‘Ostalgie’ becomes particularly strong here. The fall of the Berlin wall was a culture shock for so many GDR citizens who had to accept the rapid change to capitalism. Of course the piece acknowledges that the GDR was an oppressive police state that many were glad to be rid of. 

But it’s also important to acknowledge individual stories of people who had some attachment to it and who were then labelled ‘losers’ or ‘backward’ by the other, with no real understanding of what it was like to live the way they did. Throughout history and in modern geography, one side usually labels the other side ‘barbaric’, for the very reasons that opposing side labels them. 

The relationship between Erich and Ada explore the question; what is the real difference between ‘the future’ and ‘another place’? 

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

Of course it is. I would say it is in fact the best space. Art in it's simplest form is communication. The engaging, entertaining and multi-sensual nature of performance mean that the ideas, themes and questions which are being communicated  stick with the audience like no other form of communication can. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I think I have always wanted to explore ideas and questions in a performance setting because it is the most fun and also the most open to interpretation, allowing conflicting elements to all exist within the same space, not drawing conclusions but testing multiple ones. With theatre, the questions carry on after the performance has ended. Whether it be 'what happens next?' or 'How does this relate to me?'

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

I wanted both characters to be equally constructed by their pasts as well as their expectations of the future so I invested a lot of time and thought into the characters back stories. Because of this, only about 1/4 of the story's events happen on stage. Therefore because of the extensive back catalog of events, the play is rich with little moments that provoke the audiences imagination as to what happened but was not shown. I wanted the audience to think about action that does not take place on stage because in this way the play is coming of stage and into their own lives. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Not really. Because I was so keen on the concept I played with many ways in which it could be communicated before actually writing it. Therefore I got to explore a range of different styles and techniques that were all very new to me, resulting in the piece I have now.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

This play would be a success for me if the audience were to question the seemingly distinct separation of time and space. Also by bringing two periods of history together I hope that it gives them a more personal perspective to history as a whole. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Making the characters relatable for a contemporary audience.  The problems that the characters face are timeless and universal and thus brings the past closer to the present. 

Pressured by the escalation of events that are happening in his world of 1989, Erich tries to persuade Ada to move with him not only to the West, but into the future. However, Ada is stuck in both the past and her own head. The ties that she has with her world prove hard for her to break, despite the shock of knowing what the future will bring for it.

Themes of place, history and nostalgia blend together gracefully in this bittersweet and thoughtful portrayal of star-crossed lovers. A sophisticated piece of original drama written and directed by Jack Kelly and starring Andrew Crouch as Erich and Rachael Naylor as Ada.

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