Friday, 14 July 2017

Show Me The Dramaturgy: Paula Varjack @ Edfringe 2017

Venue: Bedlam Theatre, Venue 49       
Dates: 2-13 Aug (not 5, 6)  
Time: 15.30 (55 mins)

What was the inspiration for this performance/show?

A few years ago, I came to a point in my career where I felt like I hit a wall. Six years ago I had given up my previous career as a production manager working in animation to pursue making performance. Months away from my 36th birthday with no savings a growing overdraft and no idea what I would be doing next for work, I began to reconsider the choice that I had made. Did I really want to continue living this way in five years, or five years after that? As much as I loved performing, was this really a lifestyle I could sustain long term. 

I then decided that rather than this being a reason for panic, it could be the source of material for a new show. I would go around the country interviewing artists of different ages, artforms and career stages about what they did to sustain themselves as artists and to support themselves financially, through their art or in order to make art. I felt like if I opened up the conversation to others I could share the different soloutions and processes, and at the very least find solidarity around what I was going through. 

Show Me The Money is the result of that journey, of all the conversations I had, and all the internal concerns I had and have. It paints a very clear picture of what the financial reality is for artists in the U.K. right now. 

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

I think it can be because it engages in a completely different way from essays, or talks, or conferences or even journalism. It can bring issues alive to make people think and feel about them, it can humanise questions and concerns rather than just raising them. 

It also can help show the nuances around these debates. My work tends to be interview based, it is born out of conversations, and I think this is my way of sparking further conversations that happen with audiences after the show finishes, after they leave the room. 

How did you first become interested in making performance?

The funny thing is my career has kind of been a full circle coming back to theatre in a way. I was very active in my high school theatre department from age 15, as a stage manager and then assistant director. I then went on to RADA to train in stage management and technical production, and then at London Film School in film production. I was always more interested in being back stage. 

The shift for me happened shortly before my 30th birthday. A friend invited me to perform a cabaret night she was organising. I don't even know if she meant the invitation seriously. But the event was happening on my 30th birthday, and I loved the idea of challenging myself on my 30th birthday, so I came up with an act and a 10-15 minute set. After that night it was all I wanted to do, and I have focused my energy on how to keep doing it ever since.

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

I knew I wanted the show to come from and involve all these interviews I would make. I also knew I wanted the interviews to be talking head documentary style. So the use of this video, and how to work with my own story and storytelling very much led the show. 

I work very closely and collaboratively with a dramaturg based in Sweden called Martin Bengtsson, and he had an integral role in making sense of all the material I collaed, and figuring out how to thread my story with it.

Does the show fit with the style of your other productions?

I think because my practice has evolved through
working in different disciplines, technical theatre, filmmaking, performance and spoken word, there is always something about it crossing and combining art forms, the multimedia element is very important, and a this moment I suppose very much my style. 

But then I also like to think that I am open to the form of something until I am clear on the subject and my thoughts around it. So in this way each show works with these elements a differently 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will come a way with a sense of what the human cost of the art they consume is, and with a passion for continuing to support it. For artists I hope they will come away with a sense of solidarity that no matter how hard what they are going through may be, others are going through the same. Another big theme in the show is transparency. I think we are so awkward in this country about talking about money openly, and I hope the show will inspire people to think about that in a different way. 

Show Me The Money - Trailer from paula varjack on Vimeo.

No comments :

Post a Comment