Thursday, 15 June 2017

Slooshy Dramaturgy: Greg Byron @ Edfringe 2017

Company Gavin Robertson
Assembly Baillie Room
Aug 3-28

Having created multi-appearing West End hit 'Thunderbirds F.A.B', as well as numerous other productions, including last year’s Assembly shows ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE DAY THAT TIME FORGOT! and THE SIX-SIDED MAN, international Theatre producer/writer/performer Gavin Robertson has morphed into Spoken Word poet GREG BYRON for the Edinburgh Fringe, and shows in the USA in Autumn.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I was looking for inspiration for my 3rd solo show and had been awarded a month's residency in Florida USA to research and write. However - instead of any theatre narrative I found myself writing poetry about current events (yes, partly through outrage and politically motivated disgust) and subjects that interested me, like science and memory. So instead of fighting my instincts I decided to make a Spoken Word show, though I think my inherent theatrical/producer experience has its influence.

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

That's pretty much how this show came about! It was the variance and focus of all my concerns about social issues and themes like compassion and responsibility that became the show. There's a cathartic quality for both myself and the audience in expressing/hearing the poems.

How did you become interested in making performance?

It sounds melodramatic but I discovered Bowie in the late 1970's - specifically the mime aspect of his live shows. I then studied with the same Teacher and started making work myself. It's all I've ever done and I'm lucky to have travelled globally as a result.

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

I find a subject that ignites my passion then write about it. After I made a collection of poems, then it was a case of weaving them together in an order that brings highs and lows, and different emotional responses.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Not AT ALL! I have in the past read poetry live in various places and countries. I've worked on performance with poets and writers but never written my own poetry FOR me to perform in front of an audience. It's a real 'first' but the direct form of address and relationship with that audience is stimulating.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I'm writing from the heart even though I'm using a persona (Greg Byron) so I want them to relate and empathise with the subject matter. I know already some poems move them and some subjects - particularly those with a political slant -  bring the room together, so it can be both entertaining yet cathartic. It's almost like becoming a community in one hour.

Call it what you will - Spoken Word, Live Literature, Performance Poetry - it's the direct form of address that appeals. Gavin explains: "I'd made two solo shows and was looking for the third - but with everything in the world right now I was too angry to make Theatre. I went to Florida for a month and what came out was poetry about benefit cuts, Trump, Brexit, food banks, austerity, memory and science...all sorts of stuff".
So is it all ranting and anger?
"There's a wry kind of sarcasm often, a sardonic tone, but Greg has his lighter moments. Any show needs light and shade, and I'm challenging myself with the whole venture...
I wanted to distance this from my Theatre work for one - but also GREG is my Ziggy Stardust; he's the character I feel comfortable performing the lines I write. He's more brash than me, more direct".

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