Sunday, 4 June 2017

Boris and Sergey’s One Man Dramaturgy: Henry Maynard and Dylan Tate @ Edfringe 2017

Boris & Sergey’s One Man Extravaganza
21.25 (22.25)
2nd – 27th August
(Not 15th)

(Answers from Henry Maynard – artistic director of Flabbergast Theatre and Dylan Tate – creative director/company manager of Flabbergast Theatre)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Dylan - Through all of the Boris & Sergey series we have seen the characters on the hunt for fame. This time we wanted to show them at the height of the careers, entertaining the crowds in the golden age of Hollywood. 

Boris & Sergey fit well into different periods of time but it was watching old movie reels of famous hosts in a time gone by that gave us inspiration for the show’s setting. With the fame and fortune we liked sticking closely to the idea of 'what goes up must come down’.   

Henry - I really enjoyed the idea that Sergey was desperate to do his one man oeuvre to convince everyone of his burgeoning talent as a master of physical theatre. 

An incredibly pretentious affair taking inspiration from Kafka, Brecht, Artaud, Beckett and the early work of Steven Berkoff, this leads to life that is poetic struggle, a misunderstood artist struggling on the fringes of the theatrical landscape. Boris really hasn't been considered by our self absorbed protagonist but have no fear he has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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

Dylan - Yes absolutely! As artists/creatives we gravitate towards something that is close to our hearts either subconsciously or purposively. We then put them in front of the public who connect to that theme in one of the aforementioned ways. 

The stories we tell are not specific to Boris & Sergey but are universal to us as people who have friends, colleagues and families. Even if performance is used as an ice breaker, a way to connect people with different views to come together, then it is a worthy platform for any discussion. 

Henry - I think that a good performance will always spark debate and discussion of something and certainly it is a unique platform on which we can present ideas. 

Our Boris & Sergey shows tend not to be too didactic in approach but we love exploring the characters and their humanity. Although we can be whimsical there is a wealth of deeper material in Boris & Sergey should you ever wish to pull the comedic curtain to the side and peer into the murk.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Dylan - I started as a performer through education and then headed off to drama school. I always sought out companies that devised their own work, it really opened up a new world for me. 

As a company we consider our devisors as a huge asset and it makes the work we produce more personal and satisfying when it comes to the opening night. 

Henry - I trained as an actor and set up Flabbergast Theatre partly through a frustration, I wanted to explore puppetry and physical theatre on my own terms, to train in, perform and teach all of the fantastic avant-garde theatre styles that seem to make no money ever.

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

Dylan - We rely heavily on improvisation when creating. Finding scenarios for the puppets that make us belly laugh, sit on the edge of our seats and feel real empathy for the characters. 

We chuck some puppeteers on stage and see what happens. Then we start to fine tune the movements and beats in the dialogue. It is daunting at times when you start with nothing but a loose idea, as the weeks pass you get a stronger sense of what the show will be. 

Henry - We enjoy making shows that develop organically, it means that pieces of work can take a long time to fully form (2 years is about right). We use a living script with permission for our actors to occasionally go off piste or try new gags or scenarios. 

Much like the Commedia Dell’arte model we have a loose structure with some rehearsed choreography but anything in between is fair game. This makes the shows different, fun and exciting to perform and to watch and adds an air of chaos to the proceedings.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Dylan - Yes it is completely the farcical chaotic world of Boris & Sergey which our audiences have become so accustomed to. There is definitely softer more touching moments within the madness of this show. 

We are very familiar with what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Boris & Sergey and this show promises to please, we are very excited about it. It hails back to our first outing with ‘Boris & Sergey’s Vaudevillian Adventure’ high energy with a bitter sweet sadness mixed in. 

Henry - I think this has the potential to be our best Boris & Sergey yet. It takes what we have learnt about working with the boys over the last 6 years and pushes them further and harder - more hilarity, more pathos and some truly magical movements (and some fucking excellent music).

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Dylan - Lots of laughter and unexpected turns. There is always a lot of improvisation in our shows as we always want to keep it fluid and not stick to a script. They will experience what the performers are experiencing and enter into a relationship with two leathery puppets.

Henry - Love, Laughter, sadness, disappointment and joy. We aim to provide an unpredictable rollercoaster of emotion and experience, I'd like people to leave a little shell-shocked and not entirely sure about what just happened.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Dylan -  We want to keep them entertained with laughter, then turn a corner and find that laughter turning into pity and warmth for the characters. A reviewer described one of our shows as

  "The result is that you leave with a very different feeling to the positive hour beforehand. It felt like having been invited to dinner by a friend and then being slapped in the face over dessert”. 

I like that. 

Henry - Tear the fourth wall down! We wholeheartedly believe that there is a live experience and that we all have an experience together. You have to be engaged and involved otherwise why bother? 

Boris & Sergey find their own way to engage the audience we just try to divert the river. 

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