Tuesday, 18 July 2017

(Un)Acceptable Dramaturgy: Laura Desmond @ Edfringe 2017

Have you ever been put in a socially (un)acceptable situation? Have you ever felt guilty about not having sex with someone? Have you ever been raped?

You're not alone.

This Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the challenging stage show socially [un]acceptable by South Australian newcomer Laura Desmond will have its debut on the world stage. socially [un]acceptable will have a full run from the 5th to the 26th of August at Black Market with PBH’s Free Fringe program.

5th-26th August 9:00pm every night 50 minute run time
Black Market
Room 3 32 Market Street Edinburgh EH1 1QB

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I wanted to create a challenging performance piece that would help people see another point of view. I saw a few inspiring performances at Adelaide Fringe in 2017 including Every Brilliant Thing and Drunk Girl. I then started discussing the idea of sexual assault with others, and I found that every girl had gone through something similar or worse, and many of the men had experienced similar assaults. 

There was a general attitude that these 'minor' sexual assaults are almost a rite of passage, something that everyone goes through. I don't believe that idea should be perpetuated and so I wrote this show based on my experiences to show that even 'socially acceptable' sexual assaults do damage.

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

I think performance is a very powerful medium for public discussion. I think there is something intimate about live performing arts that affects audiences in stronger ways that other art forms, and the possibility of further discussion with the creator or performer at the end of a show creates a sense of immed
iacy which I think is very 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I have been performing in theatrical and musical productions from the ago of ten, but this is the first work I have created. I have worked with friends on low-budget Fringe performances that were written collaboratively and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of editing and tweaking a work- the fluidity of the work itself. 

socially [un]acceptable is a solo piece which brings with it great amounts of flexibility, but also brings a very particular set of challenges in regard to critique and improvement. 

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

​I had ideas in my head for a number of weeks and had been openly discussing my ideas with friends until one day I began recording my stories on my phone. I intended on maybe recording five or ten minutes, but I very easily made 50 minutes on the first recording. From there, I transcribed what I said and removed superfluous information and added a number of important points. 

While rehearsing lines privately, I would make small edits to word choice, sentence structure and on stage movements.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
​This show is unlike anything I have every been involved with, and as it is my first written work, ​unlike anything I have created. I have performed in a number of comedy performances, including political satire, so performing this piece which has kept audiences in silence for the entire performance is an interesting opposing atmosphere. 

It is difficult to know whether or not audience members are 'with me' during the show and appreciating the message or if they are 'against me' and are not happy with the content. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope the audience will understand my experiences with sexual assault and understand how I was able to excuse the acts at the time. I hope audiences will see how I want to change perceptions, and begin to understand the bigger picture involving self worth, acceptance and confidence. 

I do hope audiences will leave my show wanting to talk to someone and starting conversations with others to help change the narrative.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I am restricted in my performance space in
Edinburgh, but I have strongly considered physical closeness and open body language to involve audiences and to perhaps make the overall ambiance uncomfortably close​. 

I am brutally honest in my description of the events, without getting into unnecessary details, and I use my clothing to create a powerful metaphor of vulnerability. I hope my honesty and openness speaks to audiences.

This “potent first piece by such a young playwright” (Great Scott Media) details one woman’s personal experience of sexual assault through a series of autobiographical vignettes. Unapologetically honest and confronting, socially [un]acceptable will challenge and inspire you. Inspire you to help change the narrative in today's society, to help shut down slut shaming and victim blaming.

To help give young people the strength and the confidence to be true to themselves. To help start conversations that will change the future of sexual assault.

socially [un]acceptable is unlike any stage performance you have ever experienced. Don't miss this “important critique performance” (The Adelaidian) by breakout writer and actress Laura Desmond.

Let's change the narrative.
socially [un]acceptable

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