Monday, 31 July 2017

Dame Dramaturgy: Peter Duncan @ Edfringe 2017


THE DAME, 21-26 August, 10.45am (45mins), theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (venue 53)

A Pantomime Dame sits alone in his dressing room, applying his make-up and preparing for the performance of a lifetime. He has returned to the northern seaside town where he grew up for the Christmas season, and is bitterly confronted with the reasons why he left all those years before. 

As he excavates his childhood as a seaside performer, he steps back into history, conjuring up the ghosts of those who once paraded and performed along the piers and promenades. 

But as the ‘good old days’ are brought to life, long-hidden truths are also revealed…

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The Dame written by Katie Duncan is performed by her father Peter Duncan and is directed by Ian Talbot. Three generations of performers are the source material and background to this play, although it is not autobiographical.  

Katie’s grandparents (Peter’s parents) were variety artists and started by putting on beach shows on Redcar sands. It is not about Pantomime but tells of one man’s reflections of his personal and theatrical past
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

This piece has an element of the political and social dilemma, but is firmly rooted in the idea that the mask of entertainment takes priority.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Influences of childhood eventually find their way through to self-expression.

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

The playwright/daughter- actor/father is an interesting dynamic.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Peter was last seen in Edinburgh as Jack Firebrace in Birdsong and then as Wilbur in Hairspray so it’s a merging of the highly charged emotional performance and the talents of a song and dance man.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Tears quickly followed by laughter.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We have a good flyer man: David Kurk of the famed Flyermen.

Peter Duncan last performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 with his Daft & Dangerous show, recounting the lighter side of his personal theatrical history, from acting in Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre to presenting Blue Peter. 

More recent visits to the capital have included the role of ’Wilbur’ in Hairspray and a tour de force performance in Birdsong ('Peter Duncan shining as Jack Firebrace’ - Critics Choice, The Times). He now returns with the brand new work The Dame, a fantasy written by his playwright daughter Katie.
Peter’s family have a long association with pantomime. 

His parents, light comedian Alan Gale and soprano Patricia Kaye, were panto producers and he grew up surrounded by the paraphernalia of pantoland. 

In his own career as a producer, he has concentrated on pantomime, creating original shows at Hackney Empire and the Broadway Theatre in South London, and has written and directed Oxford Playhouse’s Christmas productions for many years – often while appearing in pantomime somewhere else!

The Dame gives Peter the chance to explore his emotional and comical range as an actor in a one-man show where magical realism meets music hall and nostalgic reveries meets harsh reality head on. 

21-26 August, 10.45am (45mins), theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, Nicolson Street, EH8 9DW.

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