Sunday, 4 June 2017

EggsDramaturgy: Joanne Ryan @ Edfringe 2017


Eggsistentialism by Joanne Ryan
4-27 August
(not 9, 14, 22)

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I turned 35 at the beginning of 2015 and suddenly felt I was expected to have an opinion on whether or not I wanted to have a child. I didn’t have a clue. The more I thought about it and researched and discussed it, the more culturally and politically fraught it became. It also struck me that I’m part of the first generation of humans in the history of humans to have a choice in the matter which is an interested experimental cohort to find yourself in. I decided to explore the whole phenomenon – and hopefully come to a decision myself – by documenting my journey and findings in a show.*
*Of course, it may actually have all been an elaborate unconscious tactic to further delay making a decision on kids. But don’t tell my mother that…
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes, absolutely. Theatre and comedy (well, potentially any performance really but as a theatre/comedy head I’m biased) are brilliant vehicles to explore important social issues and both generate and facilitate public discussion.  A good piece of work can simultaneously challenge stigmas and preconceptions, facilitate conversations, raise awareness, educate, engage and empower. 

I like to incorporate a lot of comedy into my work as well – it’s the perfect way to unpick the absurdity and contradictions in the world around us while also bringing an audience much deeper into a journey – people will go further if they’re laughing.
How did you become interested in making performance?
I was interested in drama and theatre from a young age then veered off into other careers for a bit - a teacher and a travel writer, a journalist and an editor -  before gradually starting to perform again more and more until that was all I did. 

A pivotal point was moving home to Ireland from Bangkok (where I’d lived for 8 years) to find a country in recession and magazines and newspapers with no freelance budgets – it seemed like the perfect time to move away from journalism altogether and embrace the economic downturn as an opportunity to create!
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
I began work on Eggsistentialism during a theatre incubation scheme called HatchLK in 2015 and worked with political theatre makers ‘Theatre Uncut’ and other mentors on the ideas over the course of 4 months. The first incarnation of the show was a work in progress performance at the end of that time. 

I then spent a year researching and developing the script with the support of Fishamble’s New Play Clinic along with amazing Irish dramaturg and director, Veronica Coburn. It’s a multi-media show with a digital set design as well as projection and animated documentary so the technical elements were very important throughout.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is the first time I have been responsible for an entire production myself – from research, writing to performing and project managing, so I don’t really have anything as major to compare it to. All I can say is that I went into the process with the intention of making the show that I wanted to watch – something that was timely, relevant, moving, very funny, full of interesting facts and ideas and exciting and surprising to watch.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
A hilarious, relatable, thought-provoking and intensely human journey. A fascinating, entertaining – and sometimes shocking - insight into Ireland’s sexual and reproductive history and what’s got us where we are.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Very early in development I made the decision to…
-       have a digital set design to echo the modern, screen-saturated themes of the show and allow the audience to fall down the rabbit hole of the internet and history with me.
-       handle serious topics with a light touch.
-       have my mother play herself and be my (scene stealing, damn it!) co-star in pre-recorded audio.
-       Seed sections of animated documentary of the nation’s sexual history throughout to contextualize the journey.

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