Saturday, 22 July 2017

Waiting for Dramaturgy: Stone Jetty @ Edfringe 2017

New Edinburgh Fringe Show Shines a Spotlight on Grief and the Power of Moving On
Stone Jetty Productions presents
Waiting for Spring

It’s not easy to find something positive in the grieving process but that’s what North-West based theatre company Stone Jetty Productions are trying to do with their very first Edinburgh Festival show, “Waiting for Spring,” which will debut at the Fringe this year.

Venue: Emerald Theatre, Greenside@Nicolson Square (venue 209)
Dates: 14-19 and 21-26 Aug
Time: 10:15am (1hr)
Tickets: £9.50 (7.50)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The idea came from a number of different places  - It started off with just an image of a
man sitting on a couch alone and the ghost of his lost love leans out of the shadows to talk to him. 

Originally it was focused around how she died and how he was/wasn't responsible, but I lost my father a few years ago and it changed my perspective on what was important about that image so that over time it became much more of an exploration into the reality of someone who's dealing with that loss.

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

Absolutely! there will always be an audience for live performance, be it concert, comedy or theatre anyway, but in the world of theatre over the past few years there have been some truly amazing shows, musicals particularly, which are driving a bit of a resurgence in popularity of theatre shows. 

I think with theatre, because it's a little less popular than film or TV say, it gives people license to take more chances, try out new things and see what sticks

How did you become interested in making performance?

I've been involved in theatre since I was really little, first through school productions and then into university and finally as a professional. 

I've always loved to act but it was only as I got a bit older, about 15/16 I became interested in how the shows actually go together, what makes a good show and in writing with a serious aim to put it out there for others to see.

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

The approach all Stone Jetty shows take is very collaborative, I like working with actors who are really involved with the process, most of our actors are also producers in one way or another and it makes for a really creative, fun process.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

In as much as we have a usual production! Our aim is to bring something new and different every time. Sometimes that's in the writing or the style of the show, the format or use of media. 

This show has a lot of heart to it and a combination of real moments of sadness combined with silly awkward humour that we've loved doing.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope they'll laugh, we hope they'll cry, all the usual! In all seriousness, the show is a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally, but we want people to leave feeling the spirit of the show - that we all have hardships to endure, but eventually it's going to be alright.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We've done a lot of research towards this piece because we wanted the emotions Jack goes through to reflect reality as much as possible and hopefully resonate with people.

We've also been very careful to vary the tone of the show - when you're performing a piece about depression it can be very emotionally draining and we wanted to make sure everyone has a good time as well as feel connected to the characters. We think the result is very watchable.

“We wanted to cast a light on the issue of mental health in the wake of loss,” says writer/director Sarah Wilkinson, “but at the same time, make the play accessible to everyone and ultimately make something that was hopeful for the future and leaves people feeling optimistic.” No easy task, but the cast are eager for the challenge.

And the play certainly delivers on that aim as, told from the point of view of Jack, (played by Anthony Cole) it explores his journey through the well-known Kubler-Ross “five stages of grief” while he and his friends Emma (Leni Murphy) and Andy (Marcus Christopherson) deal with the loss of his girlfriend. 

Told via a mixture of flashbacks, present-day scenes and a touch of Greek mythology, and helped along by a ghostly spectator in the guise of girlfriend Annie (Steph Reynolds) the setting for Jack’s struggle to deal with his past is a stylised, supernatural take on a story that is all too human and recognisable for many of us.
“Grief is a very common route to depression, but there’s often not a lot in place to help people deal with it in a healthy way. What we wanted to do with the show is look at the complete journey of someone going through that process and how it can feel like an endless toil when you’re in it, but there is light and a future out there if you can keep going” says Sarah. “It’s not a straightforward thing and Jack does go back and forth between very strong emotions in the play, but he does ultimately recognise that he needs to move forward, he just has to find a way to do it.”
But the play isn’t all grief and misery, in fact the take is surprisingly light-hearted for the subject matter at hand, and the play advertises itself as more dramedy than outright drama.
 “I think humour one of the strongest coping mechanisms we have,” Sarah continues “so it made sense to me to try and put the two things together, but it meant keeping a difficult balance so we didn’t lose the meaning of the show or disrespect the emotions behind it. I’ve had some experience with it myself and it was important to me to show what people really go through – which isn’t always as simple as sad/not sad.”

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