Friday, 14 July 2017

That Moment of Dramaturgy: Blueleaf Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

That Moment at C Cubed Venue 50, 3-28th August (not 15th) @ 22.20

Many performers at this year’s Fringe will know exactly how the character in award-winning* playwright Dougie Blaxland’s witty one-woman show That Moment feels.

This fast-paced, funny yet touching one woman show about the struggle for success in the notoriously competitive theatre industry, poses the question how far would you go to achieve the dream?

Madeleine Gray brings over 18 characters to life playing struggling actress Alicia who is trying everything in her power to pursue a career in theatre.

Director Marcus Marsh says: “That Moment will strike a chord with anyone trying to pursue their chosen career, as it deals with the struggle of coming out of full time education and making a way in the world.”

What was the inspiration for this performance?
That Moment was written by playwright Dougie Blaxland and he states “The idea for the play came during a conversation I had outside RADA during the interval of one of their student productions. I met a young actress called Vicky Yates who was "resting" at the time but was living at Simon Callow's house dog sitting while he was on tour - thus the idea began to germinate.”

As a company we decided to take the play and develop it further with Dougie because as young creatives we feel the piece has a lot to say about the theatre industry.  Yes it is one woman comedy show, but it shows the vulnerability in it’s lead character, Alicia, who is trying to pursue her career as an actor. The play shows the struggles we go through when trying to pursue a chosen career path, in this case theatre but more broadly in any specific industry.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
Definitely! As a theatre maker I don’t think there is a better platform to have these discussions, whether these look at strong political - social issues or just bring together a group of people to entertain.

Performance allows a group of people to collaborate together and present stories and characters on a stage while giving an audience an opportunity to respond to it. As long as an audience has a response, whether it be a difference in opinion or an emotional response, then we, as performance makers have done our job. If not, the performance becomes redundant. Take the character Alicia Harding in our show, as a company, we see her as this vulnerable character who although appears very confident, shows a lot of insecurity in herself and frustration with the industry she is working in.

These are our feelings as a company, although a lot of audiences may have differing opinions on her as a person.  As a director I would rather an audience member strongly dislike or disagree with the show than to think it was OK. Nobody likes being in the middle-ground.

How did you become interested in making performance?
For me it originally came from being on stage and having that feeling of being able to express myself. Gradually I realised that I wanted more input on what was being said through a performance, this was generated from both being part of and seeing work where I had a strong differing opinion.   

Now as my career has progressed I think for me I love collaborating with other artists whether it’s writers, composers, designers, actors. I find it exciting having individuals coming together as a group and creating something that they all have a passion for and believe can have an impact.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
It’s interesting because a one person show is relatively new to most of the company, so in a sense it’s been a breath of fresh air.

In terms of process we tried to look at Alicia first and then the characters she is portraying. It’s a challenge in a one woman show because the central character is playing all of the characters through her eyes. Therefore together both Madeleine Gray (actor) and I had to discuss the characters and how Alicia views them, this dictates how they are then portrayed on stage, if that makes sense? 

We had to look at Alicia, then look at these characters, who they really are and then use this to see how Alicia would perceive them and how this affects her portrayal of them. To do this we tried to find the stereotypes in society and in particular the theatre industry that Alicia is part of. This is fundamentally where the comedy comes from as we have that audiences can strongly relate to these characters and may have even met them in their own lives.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Yes and no. The only way it doesn’t fit in with our usual company ethos is the fact that it is a one woman show. However our company is focused on creating work that explores impactful stories through innovative storytelling techniques. In That Moment we feel we have a script that is both funny yet subtly touching for an audience and challenged us as a company in exploring new storytelling techniques. We have experimented using lighting and sound techniques to assist in visually creating the story on stage for the audience.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
First and foremost I hope they enjoy the comedy in the show and recognise the characters Alicia is portraying to them. Secondly I hope they see the underlying emotional struggles Alicia is experiencing and gain an insight into the harsh reality of the theatre and entertainment industry.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

In terms of audience experience we’ve tried not to shape it too much. As we have discussed we would like the audience to have an opinion on Alicia and what she is saying, whether they like her not. All I would say in terms of audience experience is that we have tried to help create the places Alicia is talking about visually and orally through lighting and sound to assist Alicia in the telling of her story.  

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