Sunday, 20 August 2017

King Dramaturgy: Ludens Ensemble @ Edfringe 2017

Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry
A multimedia comedy theatre
Ubu Roi is a co-production between Ludens Ensemble and Paphos 2017, European Capital of Culture. It was co -funded by Creative Scotland and supported by the French Institute.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Philippos: Ubu Roi was my research at the University of Edinburgh when I was doing my Masters. The absurdist comedy, the anarchy in the play, the rapid flow of the plot was the first thing that attracted my interest. I discovered the Avant - Garde Scene in Europe that influenced a lot of significant artists. I always loved the puppets, cartoons and animations. I saw these capabilities of the play, to include different elements in one performance and create a chaos along with new media, such as mapping projections as an opportunity for experimentation.

Vangelis: Philippos approached me with the idea of staging Ubu Roi with the use of new media.  My prime interest was the absurdity of the whole play as a radical critique on individualism which is still pertinent today. Jarry, although very young when he wrote the play, was conscious of the conformisms of his time. What started as a parody of his Physics teacher evolved into a mocking of different kinds of social norms. This element was carried over to the level of form since Jarry wanted to do away with the theater conventions of his time. Although I am far from claiming that one can radicalize theater through what is now considered a classic, Ubu Roi provides for me the perfect ground to experiment and be playful with theater conventions. The nature of the play also gives a lot of space for improvisation. I think this last bit is particularly attractive to our performers who are able to experiment with the text but also with their bodies and their voices on stage.  

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

Philippos: Absolutely yes! Even though there a lot of commercial performances that are there merely to entertain, there are still performances that give rise to questions. Theatre will always have an effect on the everyday life of each individual but only if you treat the audience not as passive but as an active member of the performance.

Vangelis: From its ancient manifestations theater was a public affair. It was the locus where the polis (the city state), was staging itself and testing its values and limitations. Although we are in radically different societies, societies where the public seem to have moved to the realm of the virtual and social media, theater remains a locus where ideas can circulate and be contemplated. Every performance brings together an audience and creates a community. A performance can also be carried outside the confines of a classic theater auditorium, at other public spaces. Demonstrations in the streets for example can be performative or may carry elements (consciously or unconsciously) that stem directly from the traditions of theater.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Philippos: That happened when I was 10 years old when a crazy teacher gave a character to perform. It was the an ancient Greek drama named Philoctetes by Sophocles. When I was studying theatre in Athens I realised that I love directing. I wanted to put on stage my own ideas. My first initiation at the theatre directing was when I won a playwriting competition at the National Theatre of Greece in 2004. Then I decided to direct a play. From that moment on I am directing and I really enjoy it!  

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

Philippos: Chaos! I wanted to use puppets and animations along with projections. Then I met Vangelis we started working together and we decided to go for it. The old technologies in relation to what our times is offering was our approach to the play. Four performers are interpreting all the characters on stage. Each performer transforms each time to a different character. This transformation is magical and gives a different twist to the play. The interpretations are not naturalistic.

Vangelis: We work as a team together with the performers. One idea that is brought in by us can be radically transformed by the actors or the other way around. For example, I wanted to use live cameras to film close ups of the actors’ hands as they manipulate objects. Philippos wanted Ubu to pretend taking a snapshot of the royal family as if he were a tourist in a scene where the performers are staged in a tableau vivant. What the performers did was to blend in these two ideas and transform them. Instead of using the cameras exclusively for the manipulation of objects they started filming each other and their performances on stage like in the above described scene where the make-believe snapshot is replaced by a live camera.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Philippos: We started working on Macbeth in 2014. We worked with projections, facial expression and body gestures in order to tell the story. The absence of spoken words made the performance more accessible and Macbeth traveled to China, Germany and Cyprus. We are working with new media blending them with traditional theatre. The same thing happened with Ubu Roi and our new performance called Love which is inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnets. We are also working on a new performance based on true testimonies from the two communities, the Turkish and Greek, in Cyprus. However, this performance will be based more on the traditions of Narrative theater and storytelling. This is a new play that we are writing right now and it is called Forbidden Stories.

Vangelis: Although we are using new media, all of our performances carry a DIY aesthetic along with a strong sense of buffoon theater. All three performances are based on the actors’ expressionist use of their bodies on stage even when there is strong text like in Ubu. We use mapping projections, object manipulation and a characteristic use of soundscapes which provides strong atmospheres. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We are hoping the audience to laugh a lot and to have great fun. We want the audience to witness these four amazing performers as they give their soul on stage. We are also expecting the audience to sense the powers of minimalist theater. One actor can stand in for an entire army. A plastic chicken for a champion in running.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

The performers are addressing to the audience directly. The actors welcome the audience into the theater. Dylan Read who acts as Ubu has worked himself as a sort of a ring man who leads the audience from one scene to the next as if in a circus or a cabaret show. Everything is open to the audience. All the character transformations are made on stage and they are visible. Also, the use of sound and image, at times in contra distinction, we hope will trigger the audience to use their imagination creatively.

Ubus run at the Edinburgh Fringe is co-produced by Ludens Ensemble and Adjust Productions and organised by the High Commission of Cyprus in London.

Ubu Roi premiered at the Hidden Door Festival 2016 and has already travelled to Berlin as part of the ‘Theater Der Dinge Festival’ in October 2016 and Pafos, Cyprus in November as part of the events organized by Pafos 2017.

Plot: King Ubu, usurper to the throne of Baloney, carries a mop instead of a scepter and dreams of his pâté de dog. Meanwhile, he liquidates enemies and friends. Under his reign citizens face unbearable taxation and crippling whimsy, until someone calls for revolution...Ubu Roi is an absurd comedy which caused riots and launched the European avant-garde. Ludens Ensembletransform Ubu into a big old bash. Featuring interactive videos, on stage DJ set, puppetry, shadow play, object manipulation and four actors who move about and say things. The fringe run is organized by the Cyprus High Commission Cultural Section.

Ludens Ensemble is an Edinburgh based theatre group run by local and international artists thatcreates original performances with the aid of video art, animation, masks, puppets and music. Their performances have toured internationally (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Berlin, Pafos, Limassol) and around Scotland.

Adjust Productions is an Edinburgh based company which produces cultural and artistic events in collaboration with local, as well as international artists. Their projects range from festivals and music concerts to dance and theatre performances, and audiovisual installations.

Director, Artistic Director: Philippos Philippou, Dramaturg, Second Director, Music Curator:Vangelis Makriyannakis. Translator: Kenneth McLeish 

Performers: Adam Tompa , Dylan Read, Jenny Lynn, Persefoni Gerangelou 
TRAILER UBU ROI LUDENS ENSEMBLE from Ludens Ensemble on Vimeo.

Producers : Philippos Philippou, Vangelis Makriyannakis

Video Artist: Moyra Campbell 

Stage and Costume Designer: Panagiotis Baras 

Lighting Designer: Brian Holt 

Puppeteer: Gavin Glover 

AV & Sound Engineer: Petros Tsaftaridis

Assistant Director: Isidora Bouziouri

Venue number 26: Summerhall - Demonstration Room
August 2 (preview) £7/£5
August 4 – 27 (except 8, 14, 21)
Time: 21.25
Tickets:  £11.00 / £9.00

No comments :

Post a Comment