Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Ginger Dramaturgy: Limerence @ Edfringe 2017

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Phoebe: I, personally, found the LGBTQ+ theatre scene at Fringe last year to be incredibly lacking. I was shocked that only 2% of Edinburgh shows last year were classed as LGBT+ because queer people are so central to the theatrical community. 

People in 2017 genuinely believe that being gay is easy  and our performance sets out to disprove this. Being gay is easier than it was 100 years ago but that doesn’t mean that homophobia is finished. This is why making Ginger Beer was so important to us. 

It shows real, multifaceted characters facing and overcoming obstacles that so many queer people before them have also had to tackle. It also explores the theme of masculinity in the gay community, hence the title Ginger Beerwhich is the cockney rhyming slang for ‘queer’. 

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

Phoebe: Absolutely. Performance gives audiences an experience that films cannot: namely, seeing live actors pouring their hearts out onstage. That level of intimacy is what makes performance such a vital tool for discussion, as the themes being explored simply cannot be ignored by the audience. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

Hal: I think we were both theatre nerds from very young ages (I know I was). I’m very much a cliche in that my mum put me in a local theatre group when I was about seven and I just became hooked. I think she regrets it now. She wanted me to be a lawyer. The more performances I was in as an actor, the more frustrated I was that I wasn’t leading rehearsals and steering the work created into what I saw as the most fruitful areas. 

So, I decided I was going to make my own work instead.

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

Hal: This is the first production Phoebe and I have worked on together as writers and directors so we’ve been figuring out our approach as we’ve gone along. It started off as a load of post-it notes on Phoebe’s bedroom wall made up of ideas and themes that we were interested in exploring. From there, we built vague characters and a vague plot that we’ve honed down over the last six months. 

Of course, once we entered the rehearsal room, things had to be changed and reworked again, in light of what breathing life into the script with actors brought to light.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Phoebe: Ginger Beer is Limerence Productions’s first show. Last year, I wrote and directed a children's show called The Girl With The Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe). While this show was obviously wildly different from Ginger Beer, the themes of alienation and loneliness are similar. This is why we founded Limerence: to explore human emotions at their most raw. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Hal: I hope they experience shock. We want audience members to come away from the play having learnt about some of the issues that are faced by gay men as individuals and as a community. As Phoebe said, LGBTQ+ people have come a long way in recent history but there’s still huge problems, such as racism, systemic homophobia and mental illness that aren’t being spoken about nearly as much as they should be.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Hal: The focus of our work is on emotions and human connection so we wanted to create an experience for our audience that allowed us to connect with them on an emotional level. To help us with that, we chose a really intimate venue so that the audience are face-to-face with the difficult issues and feelings explored in this play. Yes, that means it can sometimes be hard to watch but it should be. Why sugar coat real problems?

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