Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Dramaturgy that Wasn't There: Trick of the Light @ Edfringe 2017

Trick of the Light Theatre and Zanetti Productions Present
Assembly Roxy 14:35 3 – 27 August (60 mins)
From the makers of The Bookbinder comes an award-winning dark fable.
In New Zealand there are some 56,000 kilometres of paper roads – streets and towns that exist only on surveyors’ maps. Or do they?
After a sell-out run of The Bookbinder at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, award-winning NZ company Trick of the Light Theatre are back with an original dark fable. From writer/performer Ralph McCubbin Howell & director Hannah Smith,

A young woman strays from the beaten track and finds herself in a paper town. It seems a place of possibility, but she soon discovers that actions taken in the fictional world can have frighteningly real consequences...

Told by three actors and fifty-odd puppets, the show weaves between shadow play, live music, and a score by award-winning composer Tane Upjohn-Beatson. The story is rooted in New Zealand folklore; from lost moa roaming the foothills, to faeries drinking moonshine out of the back of Mitre 10.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The Road That Wasn’t There explores the idea of ‘paper roads’ – streets and roads that exist only on maps. When New Zealand was undergoing colonisation a lot (A LOT) of these roads were drawn into existence - a technique used by surveyors to fast-track development of future settlements. Some of those towns were populated and built in due course, others were not. 

Yet traces of these roads remain and in some cases they retain legal status despite the fact that they don’t actually, physically, exist. You hear of them from time to time when tourists’ GPS’s send them off the beaten track…

We are always interested in ‘in-between’ spaces – places that sort of exist and sort of don’t, these cracks and gaps seem like good spots to find creepy stories lurking.

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

Of course!  The essence of performance is that you have humans in a room together exchanging ideas. Unlike other mediums (film and book), the performance only exists if that discussion is taking place – a book is still a book if no one picks it up and reads it, but a performance doesn’t happen without the give and take between actor and audience. In the divided world we currently live in, getting a bunch of people together in a room to laugh and cry and think together seems like a essential.

How did you become interested in making performance?
We both grew up with a love of theatre and performance, through family and school. We met at Uni where we were both studying theatre, and formed our company from there.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
There are as many approaches as there are makers, but we generally start with a story.  We will go for long walks and try and nut out the plot, twisting and talking it through until we’ve worked out some good bones for a narrative. Then we generally get it into a room with some collaborators and start creating.

We believe the only way to know a performance is working is to put it in front of an audience, so we like to keep crafting and fiddling with a work throughout its life.  We find that shows play differently to different age groups, and in different countries.  We are constantly looking for ways to respond to the various audiences we encounter.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
We have a pretty diverse catalogue of works, but The Road That Wasn’t There is certainly in a similar vein to The Bookbinder, which is a show we have performed at the Fringe for the last two years.  It is an original dark fable, with paper-craft and puppetry and music, aimed at a cross-over audience of adults and older children.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope the audience will be transported by the story – have a good laugh, get a bit freaked out in the scary parts and then feel all the feels at the end.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Atmosphere is key! It is essential to have avenue with the right sound and light requirements (no small feat at fringe) so Assembly Roxy is a great space for us.

 First staged as a work-in-progress at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, it returned home to sweep New Zealand’s Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, winning Outstanding New NZ Play, Most Promising New Director and Production of the Year in 2013. Since then it has toured throughout New Zealand and Australia, receiving Best Children’s Event at both Fringe World, Perth, and Adelaide Fringe 2016.

Venue: Assembly Roxy, Upstairs, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU Time: 14:35 Running Time: 60mins Dates: 3-27 August. Previews 3-4 August. No show Mon 14 / 21 August. Tickets: Previews £8; 5 & 6, 9-10, 15-17, 22-24 August £10 (£8); 7-8, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 August £11 (£9)

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