Thursday, 22 June 2017

Yvette's Dramaturgy: Urielle Klein-Mekongo @ Edfringe 2017

China Plate presents:


By Urielle Klein-Mekongo

A one woman show with original music about a stolen childhood and growing up with a secret.

Directed by Rebecca Atkinson Lord Script by Urielle Klein-Mekongo

Pleasance Courtyard, Below | 2nd – 26th August (not 14th), 2.15pm (3.15pm)

Fresh from graduating from East 15, Urielle Klein-Mekongo brings her award-winning, debut production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Based on a true story, Yvette fuses spoken word, music and an exceptional solo performance to present a story of survival, teenage angst and Hello Kitty knickers. 

Written and performed by emerging artist Urielle Klein-Mekongo, Yvette has won the Young Harts Writing Fest Audience Favourite, the Kings Head Theatre Stella Wilkie Award and The East15 Pulse Award 2017. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I had many inspirations for the performance, the storyline itself is based loosely around my own experience. I had read and seen two one-woman shows (chewing gum dreams and Bitch Boxer) where the staging and style of writing felt unique and engaging and I wanted for my piece to have that feeling to. 

I think I wanted to write myself to a place of healing, but soon figured that I couldn't. What I actually needed to write was the truth about where I was at. One of the the things I wanted to explore most in the show was a sense of vulnerability and emotional nudity,  and so the devising process was hard for me but truly beneficial for the show that we created through it. I want people who have been through what I went through to be inspired by this show to reclaim their lives and rise from it.

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

I think its a perfect space to talk about it, especially topics that are rarely talked openly about. There are more victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking everyday and I feel that my show doesn't just make you look at it with a quick glance, but makes you see what it takes to be vulnerable and then have someone take advantage of that. 

I also wanted people to realise that whilst children may appear childish and young, they often know much more than we imagine children should. I also wanted to explore the racial politics that exists within the black community . The fact we still value ourselves buy the standard of the brown paper bag, a way of viewing ourselves ingrained in our community from the days of slavery till now.

How did you become interested in making performance?

As part of my course at East 15 Acting School I had to write a play for our course’s Debut Festival. Whilst I had always written music and poetry, I’d never written a play.  I sent 5 pages of funny scenes drawn from childhood memories of just being a curious girl from a London estate.  I enjoyed integrating my love for poetry and drawing the struggles of growing up without a father because it gave me more depth to explore what I was afraid of addressing. I knew there was one story of mine I really wanted to tell but was too afraid to, but it became less of an obstacle and more something to weave into the piece.

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

I did a lot research on multi rolling through watching stand up shows and I  found it help me tie the overall show together. There was a lot of character improvisations which helped me tidy the script.  I also had a playlist of my favourite hits of that time that really help me get in touch with the youthful spring in my characters step, and with a loop pedal I adapted an created a musical through line to transition the piece through.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is my first production so I'm very new to this but  I hope the standard of my future productions will get better every time.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope for women and men to look at their struggles and be able to look forward and say ‘what's next’. Because, I truly believe that we are the authors of our own story despite the things that go wrong. We decide whether we can get back up and face the world.

Evie is thirteen and lives in Neasden with her Mum. She wants to tell us about something - her crush on Lewis, trying to be a woman, friends, virginity, lightys, garage remixes… and an ‘Uncle’ who lurks in the corners of her story. She wants to tell us something, but first she must face it for herself. Through music, rhyme and witty character observations Urielle Klein Mekongo invites the audience into a snapshot of a young girls life, growing up in a single parent home in North London, the trials and tribulations of being a teenager and the dark figure that infiltrates her life.

Urielle said, “This project tells a coming of age story, that asks questions about what it means to be a black girl from a single parent household. It’s particularly important to me because its a story based on challenges I faced growing up with major daddy issues and trying rise from of ashes of sexual abuse. It took me a while to come face to face with it, like many other victims but I believe that this show could encourage more people to speak up.”
Following its opening performance at East15’s DEBUT Festival, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre has commissioned the show and producers China Plate have come on board for its transfer to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Director Rebecca Atkinson Lord has worked with Urielle to enhance the production and elevate it beyond the constraints of a university setting. 
“Urielle is a startlingly compelling performer with an exciting gift for brilliant music and cheeky wit. Yvette is a story of determination and triumph that is breathtaking in its honesty told by a performer who is so dazzlingly herself that you can't help but root for her.” Rebecca Atkinson-Lord
There will be a collection for Rape Crisis England after every performance as a means of supporting the excellent work that they do across the UK. Rape Crisis England & Wales is a charity that exists to promote the needs and rights of women and girls who have experienced sexual violence it is the national umbrella body for a network of autonomous member Rape Crisis Centres across England and Wales and was set up to support their specialist work.  

Urielle Klein-Mekongo is a writer, theatre maker singer/songwriter and performer. After first entering training via the National Youth Theatre’s Playing Up course in 2013, she went on to study Acting and Contemporary Theatre at East 15 where she graduated in 2017. Yvette marks Urielle’s first professional outing as a writer/performer. Other credits include Swipe (The Arcola with NYT), Three Sisters (East 15).
Rebecca Atkinson Lord trained at RADA and with the Royal Opera House and the Young Vic. Her work has taken her from major international companies like Shakespeare’s Globe, Scottish Opera and the Royal Opera House, to intimate found spaces in London and beyond. She is Founding Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Arch 468 and from 2010-2016 was Director of Theatre at Ovalhouse in London. 
China Plate is an independent theatre studio that works with artists, venues, festivals and funders to challenge the way performance is made, who it’s made by and who gets to experience it. Launched by Ed Collier and Paul Warwick in 2006, the company is currently collaborating with Caroline Horton, Chris Thorpe / Rachel Chavkin, Contender Charlie, Dan Jones, Sarah Punshon, Rachel Bagshaw, Inspector Sands, Joan Clevillé, David Edgar, Katie Lyons / Ella Grace and Ben Wright. China Plate are Associate Producers at Warwick Arts Centre where they develop and commission new work, Artistic Associates at the New Wolsey Theatre where they are Directors of PULSE Festival, Programmers of New Directions (the NRTF showcase) and Programme Consultants for Hull City of Culture 2017 (Back to Ours Festival). They are producers of innovative development programmes including The Darkroom, The Optimists (producer training), The First Bite and Bite Size Festivals and the NRTF Rural Touring Dance Initiative. 
Commissioned by Bernie Grant Arts Centre in association with Hull 2017

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