Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dramaturgy for Freedom: Pandorum @ Edfringe 2017

Pandorum Theatre Company presents
A modern-day “hero” story

A risqué and murky journey through the realms of the phenomena known as the f*ckboy. A satirical fusion of theatre and sketch comedy playing with penises and the patriarchy. Funny, sharp, and bitingly relevant.
Pandorum Theatre Company will be raising funds for CALM after their Edinburgh Fringe performances of F*ckboys for Freedom. The comedy explores issues of toxic masculinity, challenging these issues which not only perpetuate sexism, but also make it difficult for men to express feeling and emotions. As a company that aims to promote gender equality, tackling these issues is very important to us 100% of the funds raised will go towards helping CALM continue their fantastic work.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) challenges a culture that prevents men seeking help when they need it, and offers support to men in the UK who are down or in crisis through their helpline, webchat, CALMzine, campaigns and website. Men account for 3 in 4 suicides, and suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45. Alongside CALM, Pandorum Theatre Company believes that issues of gender and gender stereotyping massively contribute towards this imbalance.

Venue: Sweet Grassmarket: International 2
Dates: August 3-14, 16-27 (2 for one tickets August 7&8)
Time: 21:30 (1 hour)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for this performance was when the term “fuckboy” came to prominence on social media. According to the various Urban Dictionary definitions, the fuckboy is not a new phenomenon, but the term is. 

We wanted to explore the definition and make serious issues funny and palatable for an audience to discuss without being condescending or prescriptive.

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

It’s a vitally important space for discussion! Although social media is arguably the largest space for public discussion, people often forget the merits of what is typically perceived as entertainment. Dark comedy especially is very valuable: it seems like only theatre that is considered “proper” or “serious” is given any credit or validation in raising and discussing social issues, but in reality, comedy is the way we so often deal with serious issues in life. 

Why shouldn’t this approach also apply to theatre? Life isn’t black and white, and comedy really can explore the grey areas of life very well. Performance doesn’t necessarily have to preach to people, but it can introduce new ideas in a subtler way that get people thinking about things differently and can effect change.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Myself and James started this show together back at the very end of 2015 as part of our final show project for our drama degree.  We had done both sketch comedy and theatre together and wanted to find some kind of middle ground between the two mediums.

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

This is the third reincarnation of Fuckboys for Freedom and the approach to making it has changed every time – the first version of the show was produced within the university, and it was made using a series of devising and improvisation games, then a writer would script what we’d done, and it was rehearsed in a way more typical to theatre – with a director to say the least. 

We tried to cover too much with the show and it ended up spreading itself too thin and trying to talk about too much. The second production was at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and was more typical to sketch in the way  it was created; we started essentially from scratch, and tried to make each other laugh with characters, and created a linear series of sketches trying to parallel the life and trials of a Fuckboy to the 12 trials of Hercules. It was created between 3 actors and no director beyond recording rehearsals and watching them back. 

This version was much better but we had restricted
our structure too much and became too tied to the idea of having 12 herculean trials. This year we have a cast of 4, and we have kept the sketchiness, some of the characters and the beginning of the show, but we wanted to free our structure up. We have created a whole magical land which frees up our sketch ideas and also allows for a more theatrical linear structure. 

We are also scripting as we devise, which is a melding of the first two processes. So we use a lot of different processes that develop as we go!

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

In terms of style and genre, no. F*ckboys for Freedom was under a different company name last year (Facepalm Theatre), which has since merged with Pandorum Theatre Company. Pandorum in the past two years has produced dark comedy dramas which have been in the more traditional theatrical format of a linear one act play. 

Although the type of theatre is slightly different, the company’s ideas on dark comedy as a platform of discussion for new ideas is the same.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that they’ll enjoy it – we want them to laugh, and perhaps be pushed beyond laughter when they realise what they are laughing about. At the end of the day every single person is going to take something different from the show, and we love that! What else is art for?

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We try to make each other laugh as much as possible in the process – comedy is a shared experience, and we hope the audience will appreciate our sense of humour. 

Due to the sensitive subject matter we know that it’s likely some people will be offended by the fact that we discuss rape culture through comedy instead of by saying “this is bad”, but the people we are trying to reach with this message would not
go along to see theatre like that. There’s a reason we have been labelled as one of the top ten outrageous show names this fringe! There’s no point in preaching to the choir. 

We have discussed everything from language choice to the way physical actions are perceived on stage and made sure we have air-tight justification for all of our choices. 

Follow the journey through the life of a young man commonly described as a f*ckboy and his bizzare, hilarious, worrisome and sometimes all-too-relatable encounters with a whole host of other characters. Pandorum Theatre Company (Scottish Arts Club Theatre Awards shortlist 2016) brings you this unique piece of thought-provoking comedy theatre that you don’t want to miss.

Locally based Pandorum Theatre Company was established 3 years ago by former students of Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University.

It has since expanded to include the former Facepalm Theatre Company and to recruit theatre artists from both London and the USA. As a comedy theatre collective, we take life with a pinch of salt and a fresh perspective, disguised as a bucket of bad taste.

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