Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Unmarried Dramaturgy: Lauren Gauge @ Edfringe 2017

The Unmarried is a truly original production that’s boldly cross-genre. Sharp comedic and poetic writing laced with explosive musical beats. This is theatre you can rave to.

Rhythmically underscored by a live mix of beat boxing 90’s Dance hits and old school UK Garage. Award winning performer-writer Lauren Gauge explores with cutting comedy, the feminist defiance of the legacy of a patriarchal society that nearly succeeded in defining the hopes of a generation.
The story we tell is a raw, feminist, physical, comedy. 

Luna is a bold a brass lager lout on the prowl for wild times, putting two fingers up to society's expectations whilst in a 7 year long relationship with a man who is starting to resemble the system.

The Unmarried by Lauren Gauge: World Premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Underbelly, Med Quad) 2nd – 28th August 2017, after sell out previews whilst in development at Lyric Hammersmith and Camden People’s Theatre.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
As a theatre maker I want to create productions that have something positive to contribute and help reconcile struggles I face and I suspect, others face too.

The Unmarried is about being a woman and searching for happiness and acceptance in a capitalist patriarchal world. Luna knows what she wants, but she doesn’t know how to be an adult woman in man’s adult world. It’s also about empowerment, sex, freedom and love.

There are now a whole series of female theatre makers or writer-performers that are emerging and I think from the spirit of the work and the characters you can tell the stories are all being born out of the same dissatisfaction with a patriarchal society conditioning how we should fit in. I wanted to make a show that represented more peoples’ needs more honestly and empower more people to rebel against labels that entrap them.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
It’s the mother of all public discussion of ideas. Theatre is community concentrated and real life heightened. Theatre channels public discussion like Craig David channels the 90's: inherently and uncontrollably with buckets of sensory swagger and stimulating sass. Nothing is stronger than live performance at conveying a message and striking a feeling because you don't just have people's attention in the way a screen does, where they can pull their phone out in front of it, you actively have their presence, their whole being in the room with you. How madly exhilarating is all that energy in the room? In The Unmarried we are able to connect with our audience on all levels through the rhythm of language in comedy and poetry and the rhythm dance and explosive anthems. Creating a story with beats created live in that moment with them, for them - a playful shared experience for all of their senses to digest and discuss.

That commitment from an audience to being in the space with other audience members and performers and experiencing a live, visceral human connection is the most singularly powerful tool to create public discussion. In fact it is the very reason I create theatre, to instigate conversation, give voice to the underrepresented and from that spark positive change. 

How did you become interested in making performance?
I got cast as a Julie Walters-esque comedy tea lady role in Year 6, then left school with (a terrible haircut, a sense of some small worth and) the award for 'Most Likely to become a Comedienne'. I guess I felt the peer pressure quite acutely to live up to expectations and idols.

But I got bored of auditioning for women I had very little in common with or very little connection to years ago and started creating theatre in collaboration with other artists. Women are incredible and complex beings (in exactly the same way men are) and yet we don’t get to explore our sexuality, our intelligence, our emotional complexity in the same way that male characters get to on stage.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
I’m always searching for collaborators who want to create theatre through a very organic process using all our creative tools and languages to create a story that is nuanced and visceral. Using our brains to write and our bodies to play and discover the same story and finding ways of communicating through words, poetry, comedy, music and dance. I feel everything (dogs, pain, awkward silences) quite personally. So I write compulsively: poems, Christmas lists, love letters, lyrics, lies sometimes - the usual. Words are a good starting point for many a creation as is music. It's a beautiful freeing state getting things out of your head and then an even more special process of distilling that feeling of the 'actual words' on the actual back of the fag packet into a 4D production, that sings, and moves and tells that story. Once you’ve written a narrative you have to figure out what is completely necessary to an audience; what truths people struggle with, or get fascinated by. This may be just a handful of points, but you can inflate the fun and mine the meaning until you have a story that an audience can relate to and that can offer them something positive.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Usual isn’t a concept I like or find helpful because so much interest in a story comes from the unusual and the unexplored. But often words are never enough. All the productions I have made have been a messy affair of language, music and dance. Equally they've been laced with an experiential playful nature be it in the ensemble creation or the generosity of the final production in offering something unique to an audience. So yeah, The Unmarried is full of feeling, conveying ideas through live music and physicality – business as usual in its slightly non-conformist predictably unpredictable nature.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
The show. There are a heap tonne of shows going to Edinburgh for the 70th year and British Council year Fringe. So frankly I just hope the audience will experience our show at all in amongst the mayhem! The Unmarried is my debut play and it has a lot to say about how equality helps everyone, patriarchy helps no one, asserting a balance between freedom and anarchy to shake things up when they’re not right so we can all be happier, freer and truer to ourselves and towards others.

In return we promise a hell of a start to their night... 22:35 is a great slot for our fierce feminist comedy and Garage anthems to let rip and we hope to give a nice platform for thought that acts as a launch pad into a cracking night! We promise to challenge the hangover from the patriarchy but can’t be responsible for the hangover of the night!

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The story is the main thing, the road to marriage, the labels, the judgment the expectations - the total dissatisfaction I had with the patriarchy - how it wasn't helping anyone, least of all men; certainly not women. The experience is political and personal, a rave and a riot. I love music and Garage music felt intrinsic to Luna’s uninhibited desires, drive and identity growing up; that nostalgic nod to a time when identity seemed to be more conducive with freedom of expression.

I am a lover of anarchy for a good cause, which in some senses is the club scene because of the collective energy, the sense of freedom and possibility. So what better score to set the love and curious spirit that Luna embodies to, than 90's and 00's anthems, when club culture was uproarious?

This play is for everyone who is willing to challenge the status quo, fall in love and go for broke with integrity. Luna is fierce, sexy, awkward (as sh*t) and funny (as f*ck), and I am always fascinated by the power of cutting comedy and visceral music to propel important truths into audiences' hearts.

So that is the strategy: make, play, laugh, dance and be generous. But keep it raw and real so that even in Luna’s very personal story: The Unmarried, and it’s beating heart can have wider reaching responses.

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