Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Stagemanager's Guide to Dating Dramaturgy: Scarlett Larry @ Edfringe 2017

Yuffa Fringe and What She Said Theatre presents 

The Stage Managers Guide to Dating Assholes

Toronto/Edinburgh  Is your megalomaniac director driving you insane? Is your assistant sleeping with him? Are you? The Stage Manager’s Guide to Dating Assholes has all the answers to your problems and more! 

What She Said Theatre’s ruthless political satire premiered at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival and was Mooney on Theatre’s 4th most buzzed about production. SMGTDA looks into the hot mess that happens when the lines between personal and professional become horribly blurred.

Stage Manager’s Guide to Dating Assholes will open at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer on August 5th at Venue 13 on Lochend Close, just off the Royal Mile. SMGTDA opens at 18:55 on Saturday August 5, 2017. The show runs Tuesday to Sunday, and will close Saturday August 26, 2017. The show will be taking part of the 2 for 1 discount on Tuesday August 8.

The show is being performed at Venue 13, which promotes emerging and established talent at the Edinburgh Fringe. Run from Cardiff, it features work and artists from Wales, the UK and further afield, particularly the US and Canada. For the last 11 years, Venue 13 has been proud to be the Edinburgh home of CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) Festival Theatre.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I sat on my bed crying to my best friend about the man that had just broken my heart. "How could I not have known he was dating two women??"  Was it lust? Willful ignorance? Or perhaps just lack of experience? Regardless, I happened to also be stage managing one of my first shows and confidently stated, through my tears: "Stage managing is just like dating assholes." 

I then proceeded with a long list of the similarities: making coffee, cleaning up after everyone else, taking responsibility for the mistakes of others... the list truly went on. And so, I wrote a how-to guide on stage managing your asshole.

While this is a rather comical story of how the show came to be and #SMGDA has failed if you are not laughing through most of it, it is worth noting that since entering the professional theatre industry as a stage manager, I've had many experiences that make this show incredibly relevant to so many young women. 

I've been propositioned by directors, kissed by stage managers while I am an assistant, objectified by technicians, and been told sexual harassment is at the bottom of their list of concerns by upper management.

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

 Be it a manifesto of ideas, or a subtle hint, I want to leave a performance with something to think about. #SMGDA, as a comedy, doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to sex and dating but as a political theatre piece, with moments of subtlety, it will leave you questioning the gender dynamics of the theatre industry and hopefully, if you work in theatre, inspire you to thank a stage manager and be more aware of what goes on behind the scenes, so to speak.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Four years ago, when I decided to leave acting in pursuit of a career in stage management, I had no interest in creating my own art. I wanted to support the creators and allow them to better do their job. 

But I saw a problem as I delved deeper and deeper into the professional world. Why are most of the stage managers I work with women, and why are most of the successful directors and designers men? Why do I see so many young women in theatre being underestimated, ignored, and taken advantage of?

I did not “become interested” in making performance, but rather felt compelled to tell a story of the people who are not the ones in the spotlight, but the ones who operate it. 

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

Originally, #SMGDA was workshopped through improv with a team of devisors (One of these devisors, Mackenzie Taylor, I should note, also has a show in the festival, Inebriated). 

It became a 15-minute sketch comedy piece which I then took the following year and turned it into a fully formed script. Subsequently, every rehearsal is a new opportunity to add humour, musical numbers, and sexual content. No joke is off limits when it comes to smashing the patriarchy.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

What She Said Theatre’s inaugural production was The Stage Manager’s Guide to Dating Assholes in last year’s Toronto Fringe, and became one of the most talked about shows of the festival. What She Said Theatre’s mandate is to give women satirists a platform to showcase their work and #SMGDA is certainly a women’s satire. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

First and foremost, #SMGDA should make you laugh. While it is a show celebrating those who work tirelessly backstage, anyone can have fun with it. Mike Anderson in his review of the show put it well:

"Anyone who’s ever worked backstage (professionally, as a student, in community theatre…) will recognize themselves, and others, in this piece — and even if you’ve no idea what “LX 1 Go” means, the humour, heart and purpose on display will make the 45 minutes fly by."

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

#SMGDA is not for the faint of heart. By entering the theatre, audience members risk being crawled over, chatted with, and even brought on stage to join the cast as actors (with their consent of course). As a show making fun of ambitious Fringe shows, we have, unfortunately, become that which we hate. If there is a strategy another show uses to entice their audience, chances are, we use it too. Be it audience participation, sex, emotional breakdowns, musical numbers, or surprise guest appearances, be prepared to experience it all. And be prepared to learn a thing or two about stage managing your asshole.

Yuffa Fringe is supported by York University in Toronto, Canada and gives students and alumni the ability to bring new work to Edinburgh each year.

Summary: 19 Shows60 minutes
Schedule: August 5 – 26 (No Mondays) | 18:55
Where: Venue 13, Lochend Close EH8 8BL
Tickets: £9 General, £7 Concessions - www.venue13.com or 07074 20 13 13

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations! Hope that you enjoy Edinburgh and have fun!
    Rosemary I'm a friend of Gillians!