Friday, 14 July 2017

My Dramaturgy is Irrelevant: Matthew Hall @ Edfringe 2017

My Name is Irrelevant 

Assembly Rooms 
3pm, 5-13, 15-20, 22-28 August
Preview 3 & 4 August

Old slides are populated by every person one man has ever met, ‘He’ is caught in the obsessive minutiae of hair colours and how They drink their tea. Part confessional, part poetry; we slowly untangle threads of thought.

Assembly Roxy Theatre Development Award finalist and Fringe First winning cast-member Matthew Hall brings a brand new solo show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year: My Name is Irrelevant. Grown from a single poem written at his lowest point, and developed in spoken word nights across Edinburgh, Matthew explores how our mental health is affected by the pace of life today. 


My Name Is Irrelevant Assembly Hall, 3pm daily, 3-13, 15-20, 22-28 August
Previews: 3 & 4 August (£7.50)
Price: £9/£8 - £11/£10
Age info: 14+ 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

My Name Is Irrelevant started off as a single 3 minute spoken word piece that I performed at a slam in Edinburgh. After the performance I spoke with a friend about the themes in the piece, mental health and the feeling of isolation and loneliness. From this I was spurred on to write more on the subject using my own personal experiences. This materialised into a full length piece. As a subject I think it is important to be spoken about and discussed. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
Yes. Performances allow people to escape and see things from a different perspective. They might not agree with what they are watching but performance can spark debate. Performance still has the ability to make people think and question their own world, whilst being an entertaining piece of theatre. Theatres are also one of the few remaining spaces where people are taken away from their social media and hectic world, and allowed to spend focused time watching and thinking Unfortunately most shows during the fringe don't have the time/opportunity to have a post show discussion but these are great in opening up discussions.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have been an actor for the past 20 years and it has been something that has always interested me. In the past few years I have become more interested in creating my own work as it allows you to speak about exactly what you want to. The key to any performance is making it entertaining and watchable, but by producing your own work it allows you to talk about the subjects that you believe are important.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
The script was written and refined over the last few years, using open mic spoken word events to test material. Then there was a week of development with a musician which was exciting as it was also when the idea was tested to see if it worked. Then there was a 2 week rehearsal period. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is the first full length script that I have written and performed. Over the past few years I have been working more with physical theatre and puppetry but I have worked as a performer in a variety of different styles and techniques. This show is a bit of a voyage into the unknown. Finding out whether the concept for the show works and what audiences make of it will not be apparent until the audiences come in. And unlike a lot of the work I have done, a lot of this rides on my own shoulders, as I have written it, will be performing it and have done a lot of the producing as well.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I would like the audience to experience the way that someone's mind can work when they are in a state that is not perceived as normal. I want them to laugh and be carried by the words through the inner workings of an isolated individual. The audience should feel some of the frustration that the character goes through. Even though it is looking at a serious subject I think it is essential that the audience come out feeling entertained, but also that they come out with questions. Questions about the people that they interact and spend time with.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Spoken word style of performance often relies solely on the voice and the words. But I wanted to make this a full theatrical experience and so by bringing in a musician, and visuals I want to enhance what is being said. The visuals come through low tec apparatus, a 35mm slide projector and an old clunky television, which create a certain aesthetic about the piece. The musician has composed an original score that will be played live, using loops and several instruments. The music has the ability to create atmosphere but also to enhance the text and emotions.

With a live original score performed by Jim Harborne and a low-fi tech aesthetic, this show was created to tell stories for the isolated and agoraphobic, who inhabit the invented inner worlds we create to buffer reality. 

Jim Harborne and Matthew Hall are cast members of Tortoise In A Nutshell’s 2013 Fringe First winning hit ‘Feral’. Jim is also appearing in – Velvet Evening Séance, also at Assembly Hall. 

Empathy is difficult, and feels like it’s declining. Supporting a loved one struggling with depression can be bloody hard. In My Name Is Irrelevant, explores how our mental health is affected very much by the pace of the world - and how especially when sheltering from reality, everything can begin to distort and our own narrative can take over. 

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