Friday, 4 August 2017

Alan, We Think You Should Get A Dramaturgy: Mad Like Roar @ Edfringe 2017

Alan, We Think You Should Get A Dog. 
From winning New Diorama Theatre's Emerging Graduate Company Programme in association with Hiive 2016 to the popular Pleasance Courtyard...

What was the inspiration for this performance?              

Over Sunday lunch, nearly a year ago, we sat down as a company and conversation quickly turned to how ‘busy’ we all were, constantly having to write reminders to call home and especially grandparents who we knew were living alone. We became really obsessed with why we were unable to stop for a few minutes and make a connection to them. 

That was when we became aware of the plague of loneliness that seemed to be hitting the UK; both our generation and the elder generation were catching the ‘disease’. We spoke to the charity Silverline about the extent of isolation in the elder generation and its causes – it was closing in on us and what could we do? ‘Alan We Think You Should Get A Dog’ is our response to a nation-wide problem that is constantly trying to sweep its problems under the rug and not deal with it’s own ‘sh*t’.

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

Absolutely! We think that it is more important then ever to provoke conversation and to put on stage what we do not always talk about in person, because putting something on stage can somehow highlight how ridiculous reality can be. Theatre is a great space for discussion but should make you DO something. 

Whether that is laugh, cry, stand up and say “I hate this” or leave you thinking about it for days after – it should provoke you. Theatre should let the audience take away whatever they want from it, a sensation, a thought, or in “Alan’s” case, make that phone call to the relative you’ve been meaning to ring and think about how we care for one another.

How did you become interested in making performance?                               

We all met training together at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on the Acting (Collaborative and Devised Theatre) course, and we really clicked, first as friends and then as theatre makers. We trusted each other completely which meant that we could take risks, open up honest conversations and make really bold work. It was so exciting and that was when it became clear we were interested in making performance together.

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

Resisting the norm! A style that comes naturally to ‘Alan, We Think You Should Get A Dog’ is it’s grotesque physical moments and devised form. There is a balance of how tough can we make it, how far can we push something into the absurd and then end up back to two people listening and talking to each other. 

Whilst spoken text is a leading element of the production we strive to fine-tune the balance between realistic and absurd by putting the character’s day-to-day lives under the microscope. Our primary strength is devising, we set up improvisations with the actors and from these write the scenes, rewrite and re-improvise until we are happy with the text and structure.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?                                              

This is our first full-length production! Ahhh! However, we have already found our niche and style as a company. We create imaginative and honest work that, much like the world we live in, is constantly evolving and changing. We grapple with tender, vicious and extraordinary stories whilst maintaining a light touch and strong sense of humour. We want our audiences to reach for the tissue box, the soapbox and their memory box. So we shall see what the next show brings! It shall most importantly be bold, brave and playful.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?                                       

   In our preview at Theatre 503, we had an extremely supportive audience who both laughed and cried and we’d like that to continue! We would love the audience to come away thinking about how much time they make for their family and for themselves.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?                                                                                                                    
We spent a lot of time exploring our relationship to the audience, experimenting with clown, direct address, ensemble movement and naturalistic scenes, flipping between these styles to create a bold and fast paced show that would keep the audience engaged and experiencing the story through different forms. 

The most obvious strategy we’ve used is comedy, using a light touch to confront a dark subject. In the rehearsal room we frequently used the question, ‘How do we make it worse?’ so the plot does not go the way an audience may think it is going to, always embracing the element of surprise. 

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