Saturday, 29 July 2017

Fearing Dramaturgy: Gareth Clark @ Edfringe 2017

is a Mr and Mrs Clark Production
Written and performed by Gareth Clark
Directed By Agnieszka Blonska
Supported by Chapter Arts, Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales 

4th - 20th at 7.10pm (except the 9th &15th)
21st - 28th at 11.45 am (except the 22nd)

Venue - ZOO, The Pleasance 
( the Aviary Space )

Gareth Clark takes to the stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer to share the deepest and darkest parts of his very soul in this astonishingly revealing solo performance. 

In a time where male mental health issues and suicide rates are reaching a critical state,(F.E.A.R.) reveals the vulnerability of a male performer in full confessional mode. 
Directed by Agnieszka Blonska, Gareth tells his life story in an ever-more fevered narrative. Focusing on the early childhood memories that unearth the fears of a middle-aged man plagued by news of IS attacks, Edward Snowden’s revelations and a growing concern about bladder control. 

But this show is ultimately reassuring; you are not alone, Gareth tells his audience.

(F.E.A.R.) was written and devised by Gareth Clark with director, Agnieszka Blonska. Additional choreography was added with the expert eye of Marega Palser, the other half of the Mr and Mrs Clark duo, who has also designed the lighting.
Mr and Mrs Clark follow up their Amnesty International award nominated show Smash It Up with another powerful performance questioning the way we live.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

(F.E.A.R.) is a solo show produced by Mr and Mrs Clark. It is an autobiographical expose of a life informed by public information films, news stories and the slow decay of the human body in middle age. (F.E.A.R.) asks if the World wants us to feel safe? 

Having performed largely in a duet (Mr and Mrs Clark) and with other companies I was challenged by director Agnieszka Blonska to make a solo show. I was on the trail of finding people's stories with the aim of turning them into 'meaningful' performance and I was asked about my own story. It felt only right to confront my own fears about making a solo show and also to consider and mirror the fears that society places upon us from early childhood. 

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

I believe in the power of bringing people together to share in an experience. What has been really interesting about the early (F.E.A.R.) shows has been the number of emails I've received afterwards expressing gratitude for voicing common issues. 

This has certainly reiterated the belief that the connection of performance is more valid than ever in a digitised world. There are isolating factors to all of the media that we use to converse. The audience are such an important part of (F.E.A.R.) and are visible to each other so that we connect in some way. I think theatre and performance is unique and should never be undervalued for the ability to reach into a plethora of emotions. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I started in bands and performing in Carnival. The catharsis and the irreverence of both of those experiences was addictive. The inclusivity of carnival and the spectacle gave me a great deal of confidence and I felt inspired to develop more intimate and personal performances in galleries and empty buildings. 

When I met Marega Palser we applied our combined DIY ethic to creating dance shows, a musical and political driven theatre pieces about where we lived and how we were governed. I became fascinated about how theatre provided a frame to observe people... our audiences are important in our productions... and how we connect to a wide range of audience. I've been inspired by artists that take risks and share autobiographical material and who aren't afraid to take risks. 

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

Agnieszka Blonska the director was integral to the development of the material. We spent sometime sharing stories and developing a life line of experiences. This then became an exercise in developing writing into story telling with elements of movement and physical theatre. I had trained with a company in Cardiff that specialised in Augustus Boal technique beyond forum theatre. His acting techniques have certainly shaped the style of performance in places.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is Mr and Mrs Clark's first solo
production and our most text driven piece of work. We've worked so closely as a duet of in small ensembles so this really is a departure in many ways from the work we've been making. However there is still a strong visual element that I think people will recognise and a persistent, but not didactic, exploration of fear and it's uses with the many structures of society. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

My main aim in developing performance pieces has been to create a connection. I want the audience to feel as if they know these stories or can relate them to their own lives. 

This recognition is crucial as I want people to go away thinking about the questions, does the world want us to feel safe? Fear is such an exploitable commodity and we've see wide range political change based on the fear instilled in the public here in the UK and globally. If we can acknowledge our fears we can do something about them. This production offers a rollercoaster experience of humorous and far more prescient and disturbing experiences that I think we can all relate to. How we deal with them is something we can then begin to discuss. 

Mr and Mrs Clark make timely and politically charged performances. At the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 they were shortlisted for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award with their show Smash It Up, a self produced reaction to the destruction of public art and space. 

(F.E.A.R.) is another devised show analysing the impact scare mongering has to control and manipulate the public and the affects this has on our long-term mental health. 

The author Naomi Klein describes shock doctrine as the quite brutal tactic of systematically using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called shock therapy". 

(F.E.A.R.) asks the audience to consider whether society ever wanted us to feel safe. 

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