Monday, 3 July 2017

Dramaturgy from the Black Sheep: Danny Condon @ Edfringe 2017

Australian ‘black sheep’ set to charm Edinburgh Fringe audiences

This August, Australian artist Danny Condon makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut, bringing solo show Songs from the Black Sheep to The Boards, Edinburgh Playhouse.

Songs from the Black Sheep
will be on at The Boards, Edinburgh Playhouse (18-22 Greenside Lane, Edinburgh EH1 3AA), 2-26 August, various times. Tickets from £10.

A gay performer from a family of doctors, bankers and engineers, ‘black sheep’ Condon’s story lifts the lid on some hilarious family dynamics. Featuring original music, a bit of Chopin, and a show tune or two, Songs from the Black Sheep is a cabaret show that embraces the oddball in every family.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I wrote a song about being the only kid in my family not to sit the Undergraduate Medicine Admission Test (UMAT) and thought "there's probably a whole show in this". A lot of the humour comes from real conversations I’ve had with my family. Doctors talk about a lot of gross medical stuff but I splice that with musical comedy.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes. I talk about some uncomfortable topics like depression and suicide, but it’s more palatable framed in music and comedy.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I started early childhood music classes when I was three, so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t making music. I was then put into clarinet and piano lessons from a young age and eventually started singing and writing my own material.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
I did a work-in-progress showing of it at a local theatre company, then Sydney and Adelaide Fringes really made it come together. It all came from the music. The dialogue is just there to string it together. People often mistake me for a stand-up comic, but I’m not funny enough on my own. I need the music. I was a musician before I was anything else.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
No. It’s my first solo cabaret show. Mostly I’ve been a piano bar entertainer or pub player. I’ve done a lot of musical theatre as a singer but this is the first time putting my own stuff in a show.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Laughter as medicine.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
It has a pretty typical narrative structure; equilibrium, development, adversity, triumph. Other than that I’ve just tried to be funny, relevant, and good. Practically it can be hard to engage an audience when you’re stuck behind a massive machine with hammers and strings. So I’m very aware of the need to get out and roam around a bit.

Condon says: “There comes a time in every boy’s life when he has to choose between carving up the dance floor, or carving up cadavers. Amiright? Tickling the ivories, or tinkering with internal organs. Following in your father’s footsteps, or following your dream. Surely all families are like this?! Oh, just me then?

As an aspiring musician with a bunch of overachieving professionals for siblings, I often felt like the ‘odd one out’ growing up. Songs from the Black Sheep is all about finding the comedy in those experiences and combining it with my passion for music.”

With a successful run of the show at the Adelaide Fringe under his belt, Condon’s got his sights set on the international festival circuit, kicking off with the Edinburgh Fringe.

● Danny Condon is an Australia-based actor, musician, and singer/songwriter. A classically trained Baritone, he plays the clarinet, piano and guitar and would probably beat you in a tap off. Condon is also the co-founder/co-owner of Wollongong-based So Popera Productions. Most recently, he played the role of Gaston in a production of Beauty and the Beast at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, and will appear in a production of Chicago in May 2017.
● Songs from the Black Sheep is part of the Playhouse on the Fringe season, programmed by Civil Disobedience and also including Michael Griffith’s Sweet Dreams, Michelle Shocked’s Truth vs Reality, Carla Lippis’ Cast A Dark Shadow, and Jason Kravits’ Off The Top!

● Songs from the Black Sheep is supported in Edinburgh by Civil Disobedience, a live arts production company run by Barry and Josef Church-Woods. With a passion for managing great shows and helping talented performers reach new audiences, Barry and Joe especially enjoy work that flirts with equality/social justice issues, and anything LGBTQI-related.

Civil Disobedience is supporting a host of shows and artists at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, including Courtney Act (RuPaul's Drag Race, Australian Idol); Roddy Bottum's (Faith No More, Imperial Teen) Sasquatch, The Opera; Joe's NYC Bar; Hans: Mein Camp; Tomás Ford’s Craptacular/Crap Music Rave Party; Mindy Raf’s Keeping My Kidneys; and Romy Nordlinger’s PLACES:

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