Saturday, 15 July 2017

Party Dramaturgy: Tom Foreman @ Edfringe 2017

Small Minds Tackle Big Issues in this Political Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe

Ball Pit Theatre presents

Appearing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a fast-paced and witty comedy about the political awakening of young people today, and it’s never been so relevant.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The past 12 months have been insane in the political world. We've had shock election results, huge news stories and a massive surge in young interest in politics. We chose the show on the back of this, as we felt it was very relevant and would be something that audiences would want to see. It's a play about politically confused young people performed by politically confused young people, and when we read the script we instantly felt a connection with it. 

It's hilariously written by Tom Basden but still provokes enough interesting discussion and thoughts to be worth doing.

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

Absolutely. Contrary to Trump's pathetic plea, the stage has never been "a safe space," and it's a place that ideas can be spread and analysed and discussed and scrutinised by audiences and indeed by performers. 

We think it would be a huge shame for the theatre to lose that quality, but we hope that by the fact that Fringes globally are growing each year, we're far from losing that integrity, and it's what makes theatre so amazing: you can go and kick back and relax and enjoy the show on a superficial level or you can dig deeper and pull out the questions that every performance asks its audience.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Drama and performance has been a passion of all of ours for a very long time. We all do A-Level drama as a qualification at school and most of us are aiming to pursue a career in it after we leave. Our school, Trinity School in Shirley, South London, offers some amazing opportunities to perform, with many of us appearing in operas internationally from as young as 12, and it's been that exposure from the school that has really bred our love and interest for performance.

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

We tend to think it depends on the performance. There's so many different ways you can go about it. For 'Party,' the script is one long sequence of events with no scenes, so really we just dived straight in and started going through it, adding bits and tweaking bits as we went. We even swapped roles once when we felt it was getting a bit stale which was interesting when Tom Foreman (Jared) had to swap parts with Emilie Clark (Phoebe) and play a female role. Still, nothing that Shakespeare wouldn't have done.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our first show so we couldn't say! We haven't yet formed a specific area of interest in performance yet, however. If a play is worth doing, we want to do it!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that the audience will experience the play how we did. We hope they'll enjoy the banter within in, the fast pace of the play, the wittiness, the cleverness of the writing, but also we hope that they'll come out questioning the same things that we question as performers. 

How is it that these five morons on stage trying their hand at an infantile sense of democracy somehow parallels real life politics? How is it that the way they naively talk about issues like terrorism reflects how many talk about in everyday life? Overall though, we hope they'll enjoy the show.

Set in a garden shed in deepest Suburbia, Tom Basden’s ‘Party’ follows a meeting between four young idealists and their newest clueless member, Duncan, as they draw up their manifesto for their newfound political soiree. ‘Party’ is a play about small minds tackling big issues: Donald Trump; terrorism; unfair-trade coffee; global warming; sex-trafficking… and when exactly to break for cake. Expect fifty minutes packed with side-splitting laughter and goose-pimpling awkwardness as poignant societal issues are dealt with by five naïve morons.

We feel that we have really hit the zeitgeist in performing this piece, as we have seen by the impact young people have had on recent politics,’ was the view of Thomas Pacitti, one of the cast, and is certainly reflective of how the whole company feels, especially after 72% of young voters exercised their rights on June 8th of this year. Although ‘Party’ was originally written in 2009, they were amazed at how, by simply changing a few names to update jokes, the script was still relevant to the political scene today, and feel it will naturally attract a lot of attention.

Ball Pit Theatre is made up of seven school friends, all heading into their final year of compulsory education. The group was formed as an opportunity for like-minded individuals from their school in South London to develop theatre pieces under one name and ethos, and when looking for their debut piece to perform as a new theatre company, ‘Party’ stood out to them immediately. Having seen it once before at the Fringe a few years ago and witnessed first hand the success it had achieved, the group wanted to bring it into a modern political context, and share it with a new audience. Between them, they have some fantastic experience, from the National Youth Theatre, to international opera houses such as Israeli Opera, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Royal Opera House, however the one thing that they all agree on is that no performance has been as daunting, but exhilarating, as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been so far, and they cannot wait to bring ‘Party’ to the city.

In a recent run they did to gain feedback, they received some of the following comments from members of the audience:

‘I was almost off my chair with laughter… I didn’t want it to end!’ – Audience Member

‘Relevant, witty, and perfectly pitched’ – Audience Member

Listings Information
Venue: Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236)
Tickets: 5-6 Aug £6 (£5), 7-8 Aug £9 (£7.50) 9 Aug £8 (£7)
2 for 1: 7-8 Aug                    Dates: 5-9 Aug 2017
Time: 15:10 (55m)

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