Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Oyster Dramaturgy: Haste Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

In the face of Brexit and a snap election let us not be scared of difference! 

Oyster Boy
@ Assembly Omnitorium

Following a successful UK regional tour and run at Brighton Fringe, Haste Theatre’s Oyster Boy will now be at Assembly’s Omnitorium. Multi-Award Winning Oyster Boy has been revamped for theatres across the UK with the help of Theatre de Complicite’s movement Director: Kasia Zaremba Byrne. 

Inspired by a Tim Burton poem, Oyster Boy tells the story of Sam, a boy born with an oyster shell head, his friendships with those who can see past his otherness, and his parents’ struggle to raise this unusual boy; a bittersweet tale of the trials of love, what it means to be 'other' and fear of difference in society. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Style and setting wise we were inspired by 1950’s American culture and music. Not only Jive, Barbershop Quartets and circle skirts but also the social ideals of a white picket fence lifestyle and perfect family, children and husband!

In terms of theme and narrative, The Elephant Man and other Tim Burton stories and films gave us inspiration.

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

Yes! And this is exactly what we like to bring
with this show, however not in the direct way that is often thought of when ‘issue based theatre’ is proposed. Different people (audience members) bring to a show their own experiences and perceive performances in different ways due to this. 

Performance may spark and persons imagination or resonate with them due to a particular image, line …anything…and that will ignite a wish and need to talk of that thing. Our show Oyster Boy is a lively comedy which invited the audience in to a vibrant seaside world, the undercurrent of the story however is a lot darker. The contrast between light and dark is a great way to instigate discussion of ideas naturally without issues feeling forced and heavy.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Personally I always seem to have been a performer in some capacity, whether it was playing Saxophone in the local Big Band or Dancing with my dance school. I think that once I had been on stage, almost unintentionally (at school) I realised that this was something that both terrified and excited me…a combination which apparently I quite liked. 

Making performance with my own company was the next step as it meant I could do and say what I wanted to and learn from my company members and others around me and in turn feed that in to the devising and performing.

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

We are a physical theatre company who make original devised work. We usually take a story that already exists E.g. a newspaper article, poem, novel, myth…anything which collectively captures our imaginations upon reading/hearing. We then strip it back and find the ‘story beats’ the points that drive the action forwards and use these as a structure and basis for individual scenes. 

On a devising rehearsal day we will then choose one of those beats and play games and improvise until we have made a scene that clearly displays that story beat…and is fun/interesting/visually striking etc.. (we hope) We do like to have fun. We believe that if we are having fun and completely committed to the material we are performing then the audience will have fun too…which in turn makes us have even more fun…which in turn…

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It does - Oyster Boy is the first show we ever made as a company (4 years ago) so I suppose everything else fits with it, in a way! It has all the usual Haste trade marks in terms of tight chorus work, cheeky asides, improvisation, clown characters, visual story- telling and live singing in harmony. 

We have this year however worked hard to re-vamp the show using the experience we have gained over the past 4 years and with the help of Theatre de Complicite Movement Director Kasia Zaremba-Byrne who has a brilliant Directors eye.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that the audience are drawn in to our 1950’s seaside world and experience love, sorrow, happiness and kinship with our puppet protagonist Oyster Boy. We hope that they will have fun, laugh, weep and be affected by the deeply human and social themes of the show.

The show’s cast is international with members from Italy, Canada, Australia and various parts of the UK (North & South London and Leicestershire), an important factor contributing to the themes of the show. 

Re-developing Oyster Boy, at this particular point in time, with Brexit and a snap election surrounding us, brings a new relevance to the story. By sharing our story at the huge platform that is Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we hope that young people and adults alike will stop, think and draw parallels’. (Valeria Compagnoni, Co-Director and devisor at Haste Theatre).

Haste have toured the show to numerous theatres across the UK this spring (including York Theatre Royal and The Marlowe Studio Theatre, Canterbury) and have run accompanying performances, workshops and Q and A’s across the country. 

To put on a show that is light, playful and absurd, and tells a human story, highlights pertinent topics and has opened areas of discussion and thought around inclusion, difference and acceptance. Told through a rich blend of clown, physical storytelling, live choral singing, dance and puppetry, this colourful, multilingual dark comedy invites you to delve into a sensitive, funny and surreal world.

Web:  Web: Twitter: @HasteTheatre Facebook: @HasteTheatre
Venue:  Assembly George Square Gardens, Omnitorium, EH8 9JZ 
Time: 12.40pm (60mins)
Dates: 5th – 28th August. Previews 3rd & 4th August. No show Thu 17 and Fri 18 August.
Tickets: Previews £5, 5th, 6th & 9th - 28th £9/£8(concs.) 7th & 8th £10 & £9 (concs.) Two for one deal.

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