Thursday, 6 July 2017

Cannon Dramaturgy: The Florence Theatre Company @ Edfringe 2017

by The Florence Theatre Company

Greenside @Royal Terrace – Jade Studio
4-26th August (excl. 13th and 20th), 4:10pm – 5pm, £8/6
To book tickets visit

Finding the Faust in the Everyman at Edinburgh Fringe

The Florence Theatre Company’s first Fringe show, Cannonball follows the boyish and irreverent Andrea, taking a darkly comic look at the compromises we must take to become adults. 

Somewhere between all of the sex, drugs and FIFA, we grow up. The play includes interludes of Goethe’s Faust, drawing parallels between the Romantic tragedy and the pain and confusion of the modern world.

In addition to the naturalistic drama, Cannonball features projections of original film and a soundtrack composed by up and coming band PAEN. The play is a new, acerbic look at the decisions young people face and how maturing often feels like losing yourself.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The production centres around a period of life which we ourselves are currently going through. It’s about the transition from structured life of school and university to adulthood, where you are the one that must make the choices which decide the course of your life. We were excited by the idea of tackling something so personal, and to address head on our own fears of what our future holds, and that led us to developing Cannonball.

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

Absolutely - performance teaches empathy, it trains us to consider another person’s life and to make an effort to understand it. This is why we have always been fascinated by the idea of an anti-hero, someone who gives you every reason to dislike them, yet your understanding of how their environment and their choices led them to where they are allows you to see past their “evilness” and forces you to reconsider your own ambitions and failures. 

Performance challenges your preconceptions about people and ideas, and does so through revealing the inner humanity of even the most questionable moral choices, inviting you to accept or reject them. We can cite here the Neorealist movement of Italian cinema after World War II, an expression of a nation’s desire to renew their culture and express their remorse.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Neither of us really remembers a time when we weren’t interested in performing and putting on shows. It started as children, making short videos together for our own amusement, and slowly building on that passion as we grew up in different schools. We regularly talk about the way plays or films that we’ve shape our personalities and how we behave in certain situations, and we’ve always been excited by the idea of affecting someone through something we create, just as our lives have been significantly affected by what others have created. 

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

Although we like to play with surrealism our key approach is always in grounding the characters. We employ many Stanislavski techniques to develop characters and backstories, especially using improvisation of events that are mentioned in the script, exploring our own memories and applying them to the context of our characters, and a rigorous analysis of intentions throughout the text. 

During rehearsal we adopt an approach of total honesty, and we must unanimously agree on something for it to become part of the show. This inevitably results in a lot of arguing and discussion, but the constant challenging of each other’s ideas always leads us to find the best solution.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Our imperative is always to provoke the audience to think about the story. We dislike the idea of the audience leaving the play and, even if they enjoyed it, immediately forgetting the elements of character we were trying to evoke. Therefore, in this show like in our past show, we put a heavy emphasis on ambiguity. 

We work out the entire ins and outs of the story during the rehearsal period but only reveal a small part of it, so that the audience has to apply their own interpretation to what happens in order to make sense of it, while still being able to witness fully fleshed out characters. This is a defining characteristic of the type of shows we like to do, and one which I hope will be present in all our productions. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We try not to anticipate the audience reaction too much, but we hope that they will be fully engaged throughout the piece, and that the ending will lead them to think back on everything they saw to search for clues as to how the characters end up where they do. 

Even if they end up rejecting the ideas we bring to the table, that would still be a result of an engagement with the ideas which is what we ultimately strive for.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We relish in dancing the line between comedy and tragedy, much to the discomfort of the audience. One of the techniques we love using is constantly keeping the dialogue on a comedic slant as the context of the scenes slowly moves from pure comedy to exasperating tragedy, and almost tricking the audience into laughing at something they know they shouldn't have. 

This allows us to be in total emotional control of the theatre space and creates a continuous line throughout the play which the audience can confront the story and the characters against. We think this invites the audience to constantly look back on everything they’ve seen to search for causes for the change in dynamics, and this is where the key themes and ideas of the play come out, in engaging with the reasons for why the characters behave in the way they do.

Penned by UEA student Ned Caderni, who in 2016 was placed in the ‘somewhereto_’ Hall of Fame for his independent productions in Norwich. Notably, his production of Edward Albee’s Seascape was lauded by Concrete arts reviewer Jonny Walczak for “[unlocking] the beauty and melancholy of Albee’s play”.

Founded by Ned Caderni and childhood friend Alberto Lais, The Florence Theatre Company has self-funded following their near sell-out original show America, which played at The Chelsea Theatre in London in 2015 and The Norwich Puppet Theatre in 2016. Livewire 1350 reviewer Alec Mann hailed America as “one of the funniest plays I've seen”. The company aims to create bizarre yet thoughtful works which both engage and provoke the audience, always walking the line between comedy and tragedy. 

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