Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Derailed Dramaturgy: Little Soldier Productions @ Edfringe 2017

International theatre company Little Soldier raise a middle finger to Brexit with a blow-out gig-theatre leaving party
Pleasance Dome, Jack Dome 14 – 28 Aug 2017, 14.40 (15.40)

One year on and Brockley-based Spanish performers Mercè and Patricia are feeling unwelcome in a post-Brexit Britain. So what else is there to do apart from host the mother of all leaving parties with gazpacho, live rock music, dancing, Theresa May, pig costumes, the Dalai Lama and cava to toast an uncertain future? 

Fuelled by rage at the state of world, they ask the audience to help turn anger into positive action and crowd-source a new online petition for each show to ask if what you do can ever make a difference.  

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Our company is co-directed by two Spaniards. As a result of recent events our future in the UK is precarious. So, we decided to look back at what difference, if any, we’ve made while we’ve been here. We also wanted a goodbye party because we think we deserve it.

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

In a world where so much “discussion” takes place in private (which is to say online) then performance is one of the most important places. Plus, performance allows a discussion to be silly and serious at the same time, which is important. And performance allows a discussion to be accompanied by loud music. Again, this is important.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Honestly, we just got tired of not performing. We are like moths drawn to a flame. A flame that will one day kill us. Maybe it already has. 

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

Chaos, honesty and a desire to energise and audience.

Although we talk a lot, we don’t find it very useful for making a show. So, for us, we do everything on our feet. We improvise until we find something and then build the show from there. Hopefully we are able to edit the material together for it to make sense, and give voice to the themes we’re playing with. Hopefully.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This show is a departure from our previous work in the sense that it is more obviously current. It is unafraid to tackle politics, which is something we have wanted to do for a long time. 
It is highly participatory, it contains live music, humour and touching moments. It has a lot of heart. We use projections, we have an interaction with the world outside the theatre, we learn to play several instruments, and we are using a lot of autobiographical material. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Everything. Laughter, tears, thought and even maybe a little bit of anger. Just like life.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We were very interested in making the show full of surprises. The script doesn't follow a conventional narrative, it's very anarchic. The audience is at the centre of it. We wanted it to feel like being in a party not only fun but also with some awkward moments.  We also reveal uncomfortable truths about ourselves which – if the audience are not completely repulsed – draw them closer into the show.

Following the Stage Award-winning The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, Little Soldier explore the forms, advantages and limitations of protest, from the new digital era of clicktivism and getting angry on Facebook to their own personal attempts at activism as they look back on their time together in Britain and how they could have made things better. With plenty of audience interaction, the revolution is about to get messy… 
Patricia says, “After a decade in the UK, a country we feel very much part of, and particularly after Brexit, we are more than ever aware of our roots as foreigners and our role as women running a theatre company. We want to make theatre which reflects our passion and desire to contribute to the place where we live but is also capable of interrogating it.”
Mercè says: “In Derailed we tap into some difficult and current questions about what means to live in the UK, contribute to and challenge British society in order to provoke healthy debate. Although Derailed is a response to our specific British political climate, disengagement and disaffection are of course far from exclusive to the UK. It speaks to right now; the moment we are all in; it is part of a conversation and a national mood.”
Little Soldier Productions was founded by award-winning performers Patricia Rodríguez and Mercè Ribot. They are clowning, devising and physical theatre specialists, who have toured extensively nationally and abroad (US, Mexico, Spain and Poland), developing a strong reputation for using devising and improvisation techniques. Little Soldier’s recent productions include critically-acclaimed shows The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (Stage Award 2014) and You and Me (Argus Angel 2013). 

Running Time: 1 hr | Suitable for ages 14+
Company Information
Created & Performed by Thomas Abela, Dan Lees, Mercè Ribot and Patricia Rodríguez
Dramaturgy & Direction Jesse Briton and Ben Kidd 
Music Composed by Thomas Abela and Dan Lees
Design by Gonçalo Carvalho and Marta Szynkiewicz 
R&D Design by Alison Neighbour 
Lighting Design by Pablo Fernandez Baz 
Production Management by Fergus Waldron 
Stage Manager (BAC) Bryony Byrne
Stage Manager (Edinburgh) Robin Paley Yorke 
Produced by Bridget Floyer, Larking Arts
Photographer Ben MacIntosh 
Graphic Designer Julià SolansVideo Caitlin Quinn Stroud

Listings information
14 - 28 Aug, 14.40 – 15.40
Previews 14 Aug: £6.50
15, 21 – 22, 28 Aug: £8.50 (£7.50 concs)
16 – 17, 23 – 24 Aug: £10 (£8.50 concs) 
18 – 20, 25 – 27 Aug: £11 (£10 concs) 

30-31 May Battersea Arts Centre, London
1 July South Street (Reading) 
2 July The Hub (Leeds) 
6 August National Theatre, River Stage

Future dates
12-16th Sept The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth 
20th Sept West End Centre Aldershot

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, developed at Battersea Arts Centre, originally commissioned by HOME, Manchester. Supported by the Unity Theatre Trust. 

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