Thursday, 18 May 2017

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. 

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