Monday, 24 July 2017

Ripe Dramaturgy: Divergent Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

Ripe is loosely based on “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this play takes place in a modern day fertility unit. Here refugees have one use, helping those couples from the capital conceive children. 

Run by a charming, pioneering and insightful young Doctor, treatment has a 100% track record, one way or another. 

Ripe will be playing at the space on the Mile (V39) from the 21st-26th August at 6:05pm.  

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Margaret Atwood's book 'The Handmaids Tale' was a favourite of the producer (myself) and writer (Vicky). We then spoke about how real this situation is becoming as we become more segregated as a society. 

Myself and Vicky researched surrogacy and found out some really shocking information that bought aspects of the book into real life. Therefore we felt it was something that needed to be discussed and put to an audience. 

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

Yes, there is lots of ambiguity around the time and place. It also includes lots of themes that resonate with all sorts of people from different walks of life. 

These theme include, loss, segregation and social hierarchy. Our last performance of Ripe sparked a great deal of conversation about ownership and what right you have over your body. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

We both (co-directors of the company Kate and Vicky) went to drama school together and felt that we needed to make our own work in the industry. We love to perform and make new, topical and exciting theatre. 

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

Experimenting and play was they key. We knew what we wanted in theory but was not sure how it would play out so we acquired the relevant props and experimented in rehearsals to find what had the best impact for the audience. We workshopped the piece for a great length of time with the cast, creating our characters together.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It fits with our ethos of creating pieces of new writing based around current political and social situations that resound with the masses. We aim to entertain, challenge and provoke thought and debate.

This is our first production but we have many more ideas in the pipeline. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We want to make the audience think. When researching the play we learned a great deal about little known instances of "black market" sales of children. Stories of killing "spare" children when surrogates became pregnant with twins, kidnapping to fuel the market, swapping babies and the treatment of surrogate mothers shocked us. We want to bring some of those stories to light. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

As the piece has some very raw, explicit and emotional scenes we had to consider how to balance this with light relief whilst remaining true to the subject matter and situation. 

We included lots of theatrical devices to show some of the (what could have been) more explicit scene such as using shadow puppetry for the artificial insemination. We wanted the audience to get a sense of the harsh reality these girls have to face but also enjoy the piece and story. 

Presenting Ripe at theSpace on the Mile, Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Fringe festival, 21st - 26th August at 6:05pm. Buy your tickets here! 

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