Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ever Dramaturgy: Co-coism @ Edfringe 2017

Ever Never by Co-coism
Venue 26: Summerhall Cairns Lecture Theatre / Time: 16.25 (60 mins)
August 2: £8 / August 4-6, 8-13, 15-20,22-27: £12 (£10)
Box office: 0131 560 1581

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Although Ever Never draws upon the experiences of all the members of Co-coism, the performance is semi-autobiographical. The show’s seeds were sown in 2014 when Chien-Han Hung set out on a lone journey to London to continue her studies in theatre directing. Apart from simply being a long way from home, and always having had a fear of flying, she was suffering from the death of her beloved father and the end of a personal relationship.
Somehow, however, these anxieties and losses were a motivation to create Ever Never – a performance about a flight with five strangers who embark upon parallel journeys of self-discovery. The aircraft cabin they occupy becomes a vehicle for connecting space and time, a mysterious, magical-realistic space in which fragments of incidents happening in the present reawaken memories of one’s self and others, and bring forth hopes and fears, love and regrets.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
We believe so. Creators always put their interests, whether it is social issues or traumas, in a performance so we can experience contemporary and cultural trends. Especially if you are in different countries or cultural settings, ideas will be exchanged and read in different ways. 

A specific topic will gather a type of audience which has similar interests, or challenge people who are against your thoughts.  Also, as a creator it’s important if your performance can stimulate people to think and have a discussion or not. 
As audience members we really enjoy seeing performances and experiencing every live moment that is in front of us. The black box is an especially magical, silent and vacuumed space, where people become individuals who do nothing expect receiving, thinking and thinking some more. Therefore, after a performance, the discussion and sharing can always happen automatically.

How did you become interested in making performance?
Theatre has always fascinated each of us, as it is about a group of people keep trying to do their best to make a lively piece of work. The most amazing and emotional times during a performance is always because of the liveness. 

A performance becomes a journey in which the creators are trying to build up a brand new world, and one in which audiences are invited to immerse themselves.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Ever Never is a collage of stories, several of which were based on fragmentary encounters with real people whom company members have met while travelling. These characters and personalities, however, have been magnified for theatrical effect. Tonally the play is a roller-coaster, but usually even the rueful or melancholic moments are wrapped in humour. One of us met a middle-aged lady. It was her first time flying. She had no idea about the plane, the airport or what to do. Nervous and travelling alone, she asked for help. To get through the flight she relied on the presence of one of us, and her own emotions. The story sort of grew from there.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Founded in 2016 by Chien-Han Hung, Kang-Hua Chang and Ding-Yun Huang, all of us theatre directing graduates of Taipei National University of the Arts, Co-coism functions as a collective. Central to our approach is co-operative creation, including collaborating on the development of productions with other artists from various backgrounds.
Among the many other human experiences embedded within Ever Never, the pre-take-off emergency announcement becomes a practice for facing death. Unexpected turbulence triggers the memory of a family fleeing together from an earthquake. 

Sleepless nights are remembered from Taipei, while lost earrings become a reflection of a father never able to attend his daughter’s wedding. And flight attendants serving meals are seen as nagging mothers. There is, however, a good reason for the production’s multitude of shifting viewpoints and aspects.  All the time we’re trying to change the view and the rhythm of the drama.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Although some things in Ever Never refer specifically to Taiwan, such as the earthquake scene, we hope that audiences will be able to associate with what they see on stage and that it may reawaken their own memories.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Sometimes you deliberately try to forget, but sometimes you don’t know what you have forgotten. We all have many fragments of life that seem normal – playing as a child, weddings, earthquakes – but even simple moments, simple stories, can have special emotions behind them. Weddings , for instance, are not only about being happy; they are about loss too. 

The play’s location has also significantly shaped the performance. On an airplane you’re floating in the clouds. Your mind wanders. You daydream. When you sense something – see something, smell something – the past and future merge. It can spark off a deep, dusty memory about something totally different that suddenly comes to vivid life.
Edinburgh is such a place of pilgrimage for artists. We’re quite proud to have been selected to bring a contemporary theatre production there. Language can be a barrier, and is something that has to be considered, but we will use projected subtitles. But Ever Never is not a drama as such. It’s more about the scenography and the physical things. We have great confidence in this production.

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