Thursday, 3 August 2017

Dramaturgies of Hope and Resistance: Bonnie Fechters @ Edfringe 2017


FRI 18 – SUN 20, FRI 25 & SAT 26 AUG



Previous sell-out success at Edinburgh International Radical Book Fringe & the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Bonnie Fechters is an inspiring collection of stories and songs about women’s activism and struggle throughout the world and over the centuries. Devised, performed and directed by Morna Burdon* ( see below), the show journeys from the jute mills of Dundee to the Vietnam war, from late 19th century Syrian refugees welcomed into the USA to a modern Scottish woman who rode horseback in Mongolia with her 6-year-old daughter to record the lives of women there.
Discover the Scottish women targeted as witches, hear tales of the girls who survived the Magdalene institutions for “fallen women”, explore the 1976 ‘Strikers in Saris’ protest and many more inspiring females who may never have been heard of but were there.
Burdon states:

What was the inspiration for this performance? 

Courageous women & songs they sang to survive or give then strength or  songs that were sang about women such as they. Also, a call out for free fringe shows 2 years ago by that lovely, supportive Edinburgh venue, Woodland Creatures

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

This one is! Great after show discussions where that has been feasible & also written comments from audiences. Folk have gone off and done research about people in their own families and different generations have sat in the same room talking to each other about their backgrounds, their battles, their lives.

How did you become interested in making performance?

 I did Highland dancing when I was wee & loved it. A little theatre company came to my rural primary school and created magic in our gym hall.  I was auditioned for a small part in a class show & apparently did a great  stretch & yawn ! 

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

Allowing myself to go with what inspires me. Might be an idea. Might be an actor's way of moving ( if I am directing). Always remembering that the show is for the audience - not ( sorry) for the critics. If I did not remember that, I would never create anything - my own internal critic is massive!!!

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Not really in that I perform & direct my own one woman show which is new to me. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Inspiration - I hope they experience knowing that in the midst of terrible tragedy, prejudice & what seem like impossible odds, we human beings are capable of courage, dignity and hope. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Was I going on too long? Was I being false at any stage? Was I remembering this show is "their" show - the women of courage - not " mine" & remembering it is not about me - it is about "them" (the women of courage) and "them" the audience - who will undoubtedly include people of courage. I am just a conduit & I need to use what I know about theatre to get out of the way & let the story & the audience connect.

‘A bonnie fechter is someone who stands up for what they believe in. The aim of my work is to inspire audiences by using words, song, music and performance to tell the stories of real people – especially women – whose courage, love, inventiveness and human spirit have stood up to injustice and oppression over continents and centuries.

My research showed me that whatever the circumstances of these women, somewhere there was hope, courage, resilience and – more often than not – there was song. This show is a celebration of these women, a celebration of song – and it’s for everyone. Each production has its own focus and theme but the aim is simply allowing the stories of brave people to take centre stage. Depending on the setting or production, there can be space for the audience to tell their stories of inspiration – and their stories are amazing too.’

Bonnie Fechters – Songs & Stories of Hope & Resistance
Fri 18 – Sun 20, Fri 25 & Sat 26 Aug
1.30pm (50mins) | Ages 14+
£9 (£7) (£28 family of 4) (£6.50 Storytelling Centre Supporter)

 Box Office:                                         0131 226 0000

*Morna Burdon is a director, writer, performer & singer whose work has focused strongly on telling the stories of the disenfranchised and those whose lives are hidden & voices unheard. This has inevitably often meant a focus on women -  from " Twa Mock Weddings & A Henna Night" for Dundee Rep about similar ( & outrageous)  wedding preparations in the Scottish, Chinese & Asian communities to " Mother, Daughters & Wild Wild Women - an international project using trapeze, sword-fighting & live painting on stage. 

For ten years she was a member of the creative team at Edinburgh’s ground-breaking Theatre Workshop  ( set up by 2 women, and for many years a Fringe venue - now sadly being redeveloped). She was also a member of the women's ensemble theatre company, Witch where bricks were thrown at the company as they left the theatre - not because of the quality of the show ( "We preferred to think..") but because a women's company was bound to be full of "lezzies" - it was " an exhilarating experience - we were having an impact"!!! 

She has also undertaken commissions and collaborations with Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Dundee Rep, Perth Theatre, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Royal Court London; Dance Base, 7.84 Theatre Company and Drake Music Scotland. Morna has also previously been invited to direct at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire. 

Pre theatre she was the first National Information & Education Worker for Scottish Womens Aid & Joint National Co-ordinator. Work here included negotiating the building for the first Asian Womens Refuge in Scotland and briefing Donald Dewar on the passage of the Matrimonial Homes (Scotland) Act through Parliament. She has recently been involved in "Speaking Out" marking 40 years of Women's Aid in Scotland.

 Scottish Storytelling Centre is a home for Scotland’s culture in the heart of the capital city. A finalist in the Sunday Herald Culture Awards 2017 for Best Performing Arts Venue, it presents seasonal programme of live storytelling, theatre, music, exhibitions, workshops, family events, and festivals. The Centre strives to ensure local talent is given a platform at the world’s leading open access arts

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