Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Sweet Dramaturgy: Jack Silver @ Edfringe 2017


Time-bending Ruby lives parallel lives: one an eighties boxer, one a computer coder for a modern-day startup; battling sexism and expectations in both decades. Million Dollar Baby and The Social Network collide in this punchy play. 

Written and directed by Offie-nominated director Jack Silver and starring Lizzie Stanton
(Confessional, Southwark Playhouse; Lulu, Brighton Fringe). 

Tramp return to Edinburgh after their debut Fringe production, Confessional by Tennessee Williams, broke Southwark Playhouse’s box office record and picked up two Off West End Award nominations when it transferred to London.

C venues – C too (Venue 4) ​
Aug 3-13, 15-28

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I worked in tech for years before becoming an actor and director, so it’s a world that’s always fascinated me - especially the fact that despite all fancy gadgets and funky offices, the same things happen as in any other workplace; sexism, office politics, incompetent bosses, and office infatuations. So I’d wanted to do a play about tech for ages.
Earlier this year I was hit by a car at 90 miles an hour, it clipped me as I jumped out the way, but if I’d turned my head a quarter of a second later I’d be dead. Since then I’ve been fascinated by the idea of mulit-world theory.
Then I heard a podcast about a female boxer called Gail Grandchamp and the struggles she’d faced and the pieces just fell into place in my head.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

Yes, very much. Any well-written performance has a protagonist, they are your avatar in the story, you live through them. Storytelling has a way of creating empathy like no other, and I think it’s one of the most valuable ways to discuss ideas.  That said, plays about ideas that just discuss them are boring .. it needs to still be entertaining. Nobody wants to hear the playwright create characters that just pontificate over a coffee. There needs to be a story, conflict.
How did you become interested in making performance?

I loved watching films since I was little. I saw ET and decided I wanted to make films or make friends with an alien. I haven’t met any aliens I like yet, but I’ve started acting and directing, even if it did take me a while.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We started out with an idea, and found some actors I wanted to work with. We created characters together, did some improvs, and then Tim Thomson (co-writer) and I wrote the show, with input from Kate Goodfellow (movement director) and Sally Collett (assistant director).
I’ve stolen a lot of Mike Leigh’s process for parts of this play, but our play obviously isn’t as routed in physical reality as his plays tend to be.
I allow the actors complete freedom in the performance as long as they say the words and don’t hurt each other or the audience. With a play that involves boxing that’s easier said than done, but I look at the play as a game with rules. Everything’s improvised but the words.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It’s ambitious and entertaining, so yes.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I want them to flinch and I want them to look at themselves in the mirror. I want them to laugh and cry.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I hate theatre that’s sat down. Human behaviour fascinates me more than clever words. I wanted to create a show that was visceral, physical, frightening, and challenging. The idea of comparing these two superficially different worlds fascinated me and the metaphor of physical violence with the violence of the office workplace and the bullying, sexism, and microagressions that go on in that world excited me.
We do a lot of work with the actors to break them out of patterns. If you’re doing the same thing two nights on the trot chances are you’re cutting off other, fresher, ways of playing that scene.

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