Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Ballistic Dramaturgy: Anna Marsland @ edfringe 2017

Explosive one-man show based on real events comes to the 
Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
By Alex Packer
Mini Mall Theatre presents Ballistic at Pleasance Courtyard August 2 - 28, 2017 at 2.15pm (no show August 14).

He tries his best with girls. He tries his best with mates. But for all his efforts, things just don’t seem to be going right. So he’s making a change. Something’s triggered him to stand up for himself and reassert his worth. They made him feel small but with just a few clicks he'll become the biggest thing on the internet. But does he have the balls to go through with it?

What was the inspiration for this performance?

In 2014, 19 year old mass shooter Elliot Rodger killed 6 and injured 14 people in Isla Vista in California. Before his attack, he sent out a long autobiographical 'manifesto' called My Twisted World and uploaded several YouTube videos detailing how he would punish woman who he felt were sexually rejecting him, and men who were more sexually active than him. 

His manifesto became the initial inspiration for Ballistic, and led us to explore the many influences that contributed to Rodger's growing misogyny and aggression - early sexual failures, male pressures, mental health, pornography, online communities - alongside the stories of other violent acts committed by young men around the world, including Newcastle student Liam Lyburd who was recently jailed for planning a similar attack.

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

The stories of young men turning to acts of violence keeps repeating themselves, and it's something that as a society we need to talk about. We hope that this show provides that opportunity to consider the possible causes for one young man's actions. 

The show doesn't provide any answers and we, as a creative team, all individually have our own opinions on the causes and responsibilities within the story. Instead, our hope is that the audience find it difficult to make a judgement on the character they meet; they might sympathise with his humour and teenage difficulties in one moment, and then despise his actions and words the next. So, yes, I think performance can provide a good springboard for discussion of ideas. We would like our audience to leave discussing the responsibility behind the act: was there a moment where someone could have prevented the tragedy? What do you think was the root cause?

How did you become interested in making performance?

I started making performances at Burnley Youth Theatre alongside Mark Conway (performer), and directed my first show there before going to university. It was the combination of working with actors, text and visual design elements that I loved. Whilst at university, I continued to direct plays and then trained on the MFA Directing course at Birkbeck College. 

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

Alex (writer and co-director), Mark and I have worked very collaboratively on making the show. Alex finished the first draft in 2015 and since then we have all thrown in ideas, research and stories to develop the final production. The approach was always rooted in how Mark, as the sole performer, could tell a complex story of a boy's life from 12 to 19 with little to no set or costume changes, just a chair and him. 

He plays lots of different ages, as well as different characters, throughout the show, so we knew that the show would need a discipline and dynamism in the performance to achieve this. The performance style and sound world grew out of this: what do we need to tell an audience that we are in a computer game, a house party, a loner's bedroom? 

Since its first incarnation, it's been a continually evolving as we've further explored the depth and complexity of the character's motivations. It's such an intricate and sensitive subject and the more we work on it, the more we discover. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

In terms of performance style, this is different to anything I've made before, as it is technically very precise and demanding for Mark. He has to be able to switch time period and character in a
second. We've had to be very specific about his physical performance; it's hugely helpful that Mark is also a movement director! However, the show does fit in with an overarching interest in exploring gender in the work I've made so far. Examining how misogyny damages both women and men has been a fascinating subject to explore further.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

This is a fast paced, dynamic and punchy show that will take an audience from laughter at teenage relationship disasters to a shocking and violent conclusion. I hope the audience will experience am internal struggle as they both like and despise, laugh with and at, and condemn and pity, the central character. I'm interested in the moment when the audience turn against him, when do they decide that this is not okay. So far it has been really fascinating to see how different audiences react; some stay with him till very near the end, others will reject him quite early on. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We have been continually examining the structure of the text to create incremental developments in how his attitudes manifest in his language and actions. We have been rigorous in asking ourselves questions: Does this feel like too big a jump, or can this seed be planted earlier? Both Alex's writing and Mark's performance have a natural warmth and likability to them, so we have worked hard to embed the early seeds that an audience might let pass but then see grow into something much more horrible and violent. 

Anna Marsland trained on the MFA Theatre Directing course at Birkbeck College. She was Resident Director on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End, and was Assistant Director on The Roaring Girl and The White Devil at the RSC. She recently directed The Blue Bird (New Wimbledon Studio and Albany Theatre), Macbeths (Hope Theatre) and Horniman's Choice (Finborough Theatre).

Ballistic is a darkly-comic thriller that asks vital questions about the stories that increasingly define our 21st century narrative.

Age guidance 16+ (strong language & mature themes)
Running Time: 60 mins

‘With Ballistic I wanted to explore a coming of age story with a difference,’ said writer Alex Packer.  ‘How does a boy who appears to have everything cope with repeated rejection? And how do we label him? A monster with an innocent face, a lost soul with nowhere to turn, or the poster boy for a dangerous underground movement?’ 

Writer Alex Packer was inspired to write Ballistic after reading mass shooter Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, ‘My Twisted World’, which is now widely available online. The 100,000-word document speaks bluntly and obsessively about his rejection by women and unending jealousy of his ‘sexually active’ peers. Elliot Rodger was responsible for the deaths of six people in a shooting he committed in California in 2014. Ballistic also takes inspiration from multiple ‘lone wolf attacks’, both foiled and realised, which have taken place in the UK and across the world in recent years. Ballistic explores the dangerous effects of misogyny and isolation on young men and asks questions about why these events take place and who is responsible. Ballistic is Alex’s debut play.

Written by Alex Packer 
Directed by Anna Marsland
Co-Directed by Alex Packer
Performed by Mark Conway
Produced by Euan Borland
Design by Frances Roughton
Lighting Design by Peter Tomes
Mark Conway trained at Rose Bruford College and is a performer and Movement Director. Acting Theatre credits include: Hacked, Occupied, It Never Ends (Theatre 503), Chicken Dust (Finborough Theatre), Country Music (Cockpit Theatre), Peter Pan (Northern Stage), Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World (Bad Physics, BAC & Latitude), Toad (Bad Pysics, Southwark Playhouse). 
Mark was recently shortlisted for the Old Vic 12 for his work as a Movement Director. He has worked as movement director on the multi-award winning Land of Our Fathers.

Alex Packer formed Mini Mall in 2013 and created their first show, Tiny Tempest for the company. For the last 18 months, he has worked as an actor and assistant director on The Woman in Black around the UK and at the Fortune Theatre in the West End. As a playwright, Ballistic is his debut play.

Anna Marsland trained on the MFA Theatre Directing course at Birkbeck College. She was Resident Director on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End, and was Assistant Director on The Roaring Girl and The White Devil at the RSC. She recently directed The Blue Bird (New Wimbledon Studio and Albany Theatre), Macbeths (Hope Theatre) and Horniman's Choice (Finborough Theatre).
Euan Borland is an independent theatre producer and currently works for DumbWise Theatre Company and the Half Moon Theatre. He has previously produced Land of Our Fathers, at Theatre503, which was shortlisted for Best Production in the Off West End Awards. Other credits include Matchgirls (Dumbwise Theatre / Red Ladder Theatre / Wilton's Music Hall), The Living Room (Primavera Productions / Jermyn Street Theatre) and One Hour Only (Made From Scratch / Underbelly).

Mini Mall was formed in 2013 with an aim to create exhilarating and playful theatre. Mini Mall's work varies from Shakespeare to new writing, from one man shows to full scale promenade productions. Our work aims to challenge, to excite, and to provoke discussion.
Website: www.mini-mall.co.uk
Twitter: @MiniMallTheatre
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MiniMallTheatre
2 - 28 August, 2.15pm (no show 14 August)
Pleasance This
Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9TJ
0131 556 6550

No comments :

Post a Comment