Friday, 14 July 2017

Dramaturgy Habits: Godfrey&West @ Edfringe 2017

Godfrey&West present:
BAD HABITS by Ella Godfrey and Simon West

Run Info
13.30 August 15th-26th
1 hour run-time
The Big Cave @ Just the Tonic, The Caves (Venue 88)
£7/£8 (Weekday/Weekend) Discount for concessions

Bad Habits is a brand new comedy. In this feminist reimagining of Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina, a young woman abandons her high-society home in favour of adventure, disguise, and sex. With a predominantly female cast and female-centric narrative, Bad Habits sets out to prove that women can be just as outrageous, silly and raucously funny as any men.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The book; clear parallels between the role of the femme fatale then and now?
Women don’t get enough great comic roles.

In mainstream theatre, film and television, women are very rarely given the best comic roles. We’ve always wanted to address this, but needed to find the right vehicle. Then we came across Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina, a genuinely funny story with female characters at its heart, and knew we could adapt the story into a really exciting show.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
Show is about silliness- but
Make them laugh
What better way to argue that women can be funny than by putting them up on a stage and just letting them be funny? Job done.
Performance is visceral. If any actor is eyeballing you as they crack out some misogyny, you’ll think about what they’re saying.

Absolutely. Bad Habits is silly show that makes the audience howl with laughter, and for us that’s the most important thing. We want to demonstrate that women are funny, and what better way to do that than by giving them a stage, a script and letting them do their thing?

How did you become interested in making performance?
We have both been doing theatre shit for ages.
Started writing and directing together
And the lord saw it was good.

We have both been involved with creating theatre since forever, and have been writing silly comedy with bold characters since they met. After coming across the hilarious premise at the centre of Haywood’s Fantomina, this play simply had to be written.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Our philosophy is that if actors are having
fun, the audience will too. Because of this belief, our whole rehearsal process is driven by contributions from and collaborations with our actors. We believe in using our casts’ talents to the fullest and work to foster an atmosphere in rehearsals where actors feel free to experiment and venture their ideas about how the show could be even funnier.
Again, what better way to showcase female comedic talent than giving the cast full creative input?

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Some key things we like- big bold characters, live music, ensemble casts, metatheatrical references, ridiculous plot twist.
Our most sophisticated show. Concept, venue etc. line up perfectly.

Godfrey & West comedies invariably include big, bold characters, tight ensemble casts, live music, metatheatrical japes, and plenty of bizarre plot twists. Bad Habits is no exception. Yet Bad Habits is our most sophisticated show yet - the show is holistically complete, complementing an eighteenth century convent setting inside the beautiful vaulted ceilings of the Big Cave at Just The Tonic’s cave complex.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Fundamentally, we want our audience to have fun.

Severe, but non-fatal, rupturing of their laughter glands - and the revelation that female comics are just top notch.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The show is that comic staple, a play within a play. Nuns act out their mother superior’s life story but step out to comment on it. Informality, addressing the audience directly.

Bad Habits has a constant barrage of jokes, all tied together by a lovable protagonist who our audience can follow and care about. There’s a bit of going down into the audience too, so lots of surprises. And let’s just say the story doesn’t resolve itself quite as you’d expect...

In the 18th-century’s wildest convent, five nuns act out the story of their Mother Superior: a young lady forced to don increasingly ridiculous disguises to seduce the same man over and over again. With the help of a sarky vicar, beleaguered innkeeper and most of Edinburgh, can Fantomina shake her bad habits? Bad Habits is the farcical tale of one woman's pursuit of love and sex. But mostly just the sex.

The Writers
The play is the Fringe debut for Cambridge University based duo Ella Godfrey and Simon West. Ella and Simon have an inventive comic style which combines bold characters, word-play, live music, slapstick, innuendo and pure silliness.

Fantomina - Kathryn Cussons
Hugo - Simon West
Sister Agnes & Mother - Sasha Bobak
Sister Brigid & Tristan - Kate Collins
Sister Gertrude, Innkeeper & Carriage Driver - Jasmin Rees
Ginny - Amber Abrahams
The Nun with the Violin - Marcus Fantham

Producer - Nick Harrison
Directors - Ella Godfrey & Simon West

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