Monday, 17 July 2017

Golem Dramaturgy: Richard Waring @ Edfringe 2017

Richard Waring presents
When we feel powerless, we create monsters - and then? 
August 21-26, 8.20pm, £10 (£8 concessions) 

A funny, moving and haunting one-man show retelling the Jewish folktale that inspired Frankenstein is to run during the final week of the Edinburgh Fringe at Sweet Grassmarket. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

 A friend of mine reminded me that even at University I was talking about the Golem story.  The monster story is an archetype story that we revisit again and again: Frankenstein, Robocop, Terminator etc; and the Golem is an example of a really early “monster story”.  

I was also really interested with the rise in power of fanatical men with beards.  I have read a number of interviews with such men and with people who know them, and they so often are reported as friendly and charming – “a nice bloke”.   I thought the Golem story was a great metaphor to explore these ideas.  
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

There is always something dangerous and exciting about live performance.  It can be a very personal experience and there is nothing that can replace it.  Of course it’s still a good space to discuss and challenge ideas.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I love the risk and fear of performing - the fact that it’s in the moment and it’s live!  I think this is why theatre is still so popular.  My movement teacher at drama school was Leqoc trained and this has really influenced me.  (Nearly 40 years later I am still in touch with him).   

My first job after leaving drama school was with Ken Campbell in The Warp (then in the Guinness Book of records for the longest show - 22 hours). After that I worked with a number of experimental performance art companies like Rational Theatre and Loose Change with Tessa Schneidermann as well as companies like Birmingham Rep, Paines Plough and the wonderful Deal Theatre Project.  

I have done a lot of work with young performers and love watching them find their confidence and be supposed at their own hidden abilities.         

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

Have fun
Be truthful
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I don’t think I have a “usual” production – at least I hope not.  I co-directed Tartuffe also at this year’s Fringe, come see that and Golem and then you can judge.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

A friend came to see a preview performance of the show.  She said this:  “I expected to admire it, I expected to appreciate it, but I hadn’t expected to enjoy it!  It was a great night out”  I think that sums it up.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?


Golem, which received rave reviews at its premiere during the 2016 Brighton Fringe, is a dark comedic horror story with stark parallels to current affairs including the demonisation of immigrants and refugees.  

The play is a re-working of the old mythical Jewish folk tale of The Golem, supposedly Shelley’s source material for Frankenstein. It explores the question of what it means to be a man or a monster; as actor/playwright Richard Waring transforms and switches between both the charismatic Rabbi desperate to protect his people from anti-semitic attack, and the mythical Golem that brings hope but also terror to the streets of Prague.  

Richard, who has worked extensively in theatre and is also an author, set designer and drama practitioner, said: “I wrote this retelling of Golem a couple of years ago when the world’s ‘monsters’ seemed to be a bunch of supposedly religious bearded fanatics and when the thought of a monstrous Trump becoming president was just an absolute absurdity; and now look where we are! 

This ancient tale, and that of the Blood Libel, is one that echoes throughout the centuries and feels
eerily relevant today.  Golem is, as one audience member said ‘a great night out’, but is also a study of how blind belief can lead to disaster.”

Golem is Richard’s fifth Edinburgh Fringe production, but the last time he brought a show to the festival was over 30 years ago in 1986.  

On his return to the Fringe, Richard adds: “I couldn't have picked a better year than the 70th anniversary of the Fringe to come back; it’s such an important festival that showcases the best in creativity and the freedom of expression, and I feel immensely proud to be a part of it again.”  

Golem will also be on the streets of Edinburgh as the production team invites festival goers to make their own monsters out of clay on the Royal Mile during the final week of the festival, #golem.  

Performed and written by 

Richard Waring (Paines Plough, Ken Campbell, Almeida) 

Directed by award-winning international director Luke Dixon (Theatre Nomad, Conway Collective)

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