Monday, 31 July 2017

Macblair's Dramaturgy: Charlie DuPre @ Edfringe 2017

Falling Sparrow 

Actor-writer Charlie Dupré brings his Brighton Fringe hit satire to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 
C Venues – C primo, 13-28 August (not 21), 18.15, 1 hr

It is 1994. Returning from a successful parliamentary meeting, Macblair and Macbrown meet three weird hacks on a stairwell in the House of Commons. They prophesy that Macblair will become Leader of the Labour Party, then Prime Minister, and eventually… King of the World! But how seriously will Macblair take these omens?

Macblair (13-28 August (not 21), 18.15, C primo, Lodge No. 1, 19 Hill Street, EH2 3JP).

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The life and times of Tony Blair, from his becoming Labour Leader in 1994 to his present day interventions.. and Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'!

I wanted to show how Shakespeare's insights into human frailty are just as potent when applied to the titans and tyrants of today.

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

Absolutely – and I hope this will be both provocative, and resonate with the current unfurling of political events. Often it can take an artistic repackaging to shed light on a truth, or encourage people to examine an opinion, a wisdom or a narrative under an alternative tint.

How did you become interested in making performance?

When I was 11 my dad recorded some half hour animated versions of Shakespeare plays and bought me the books (abridged to half-an-hour, with pictures) Within months, I was staging them in my garden with school friends.

A later obsession with Eminem developed my
interest in words, rhythms and flows, the parallels with Shakespeare was clear to see, and I decided that my aspiring acting and rap careers needed to converge.

A spell on the London Spoken Word scene became a regular solo slot in Edinburgh with work that attempted to combine the classical and contemporary in various configurations...

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

Once I'd had the idea for this one, it kind of wrote itself. The template of Macbeth lent itself delightfully to Blair's rise and fall. I tried not to stifle the Blair story by adhering to Macbeth too rigidly, allowing it to follow its own trajectory, but to be puncutated and bookmarked by Shakespeare's recognisable conventions, and ultimate message.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is my first play for a larger ensemble. My previous two theatre pieces have both been solo performances. It picks up stylistically with its use of rhythm and rhyme. My first show, 'The Stories of Shakey P' retold Shakespeare stories as 8-minute bouts of rap-comedy, and 'Philosorappers' was a re-hash of the history of Philosophy through spoken word and hip-hop. 

'Macblair' is a collage of iambic verse and sketch comedy, and includes a House of Commons rap battle, so while the rap is less prevalent, it is still a feature, and the re-writing of Shakespearean verse has certainly encouraged me to further my grasp of meter and cadence!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Some may worry that the Macbeth-Blair combo will be gimmicky. So I hope they will be awed and exhilarated and by the depth of the exploration, while roaring with laughter at the same time.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

To combine the light and the dark in perfect balance. To include moments of pure satirical comedy interspersed with harrowing scenes where the full force of Shakespeare's poetry and potency is invoked. To educate within the bounds of entertainment, rather than the other way around.

In May 1997, 13-year-old Charlie Dupré met Tony Blair in a BBC studio after the then-Leader of the Opposition had given an interview on Breakfast with Frost

The next morning, a photograph of their meeting appeared on the front page of the Independent and days later, Blair's premiership commenced. Exactly 20 years later, Dupré takes on the role of Blair in his controversial new play, his third production at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the first outing for his new company, Falling Sparrow. 

This is the story of Tony Blair as a Shakespearean tragicomedy. Performed by four actors – Dupré is joined by Matt Morrison, James Sanderson and Olivia Chappell – it uses verse, rap, physical theatre and comedy to examine the inner workings of one of the most detested men in modern political discourse. The show’s debut at this year’s Brighton Fringe was greeted with sell-out houses and rave reviews.

About Charlie Dupré
As a performance artist, Dupré has supported the likes of Scroobius Pip and Ghostpoet, and is a BBC and National Slam finalist. Previous work includes his one-man show The Stories of Shakey P, which was commissioned in part by the RSC and gave Shakespeare stories a riveting contemporary slant by re-imagining the Bard as a playground battle rapper. 

He followed this up with Philosorappers, re-telling the entire history of Philosophy via a kinetic mish-mash of rap, comedy and solo performance. In 2016, he won the Rising Star Award at the Let's All Be Free Film Festival, for his Arts Council-funded short film, Faustus: Remixed.

13-28 (not 21) Aug, 18.15, 12+, C venues – C primo (v41), Lodge No 1, 19 Hill Street, EH2 3JP. Ticket prices: 13, 18-20, 25-28: £11.50(£9.50). 16-17, 23-24: £10.50(£8.50). 14-15, 22: £9.50(£7.50). Venue box office: 0845 260 1234 /  Fringe box office: 0131 226 0000 / 

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