Thursday, 3 August 2017

Love Dramaturgy: Simon Vinnicombe @ Edfringe 2017

Illuminate Productions presents

CITY LOVE by Simon Vinnicombe 
5th - 27th August 13:30 - 14:30pm at The Bourbon Bar, 24 Frederick Street. 

City Love is a fast-paced, painfully honest, rip-roaring comedy. The story of two city workers juggling rent and bills until a chance meeting on the Number 12 night bus transforms their mundane lives into an epic love story. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

We always seek to perform truthful, honest
theatre that makes the audience feel real emotions. City Love is everything and more, it doesn't allow the audience to become a neutral party. The characters use the audience as a vehicle to navigate their life, they don’t express what they are thinking to each other, they only confess the truth to the audience. 

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

Absolutely, performance is storytelling, however subtle or explicit, an audience will always weave their own narrative. It breathes life into those ideas that we have always wanted to achieve but never known how. Performance breeds conversation, it opens the floor to discussion, debate and new ideas. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

For both of us, our experiences at University have been massive in shaping the kind of work we would like to create. In my final year of university, I created a solo performance around the notion of masculinity and femininity and how that is perceived by society. It was a huge learning curve but exhilarating at the same time. The show was born out of the frustration at the world around me, it contained the thoughts and feelings I wanted to express. 

Whilst at University, Elizabeth spent her time working with theatre companies in Birmingham. She performed in two shows with The Birmingham Opera Company who work on a devising method during the rehearsal process. The process was one of the more interesting and intellectually stimulating out of some of the other shows she worked on. It spurred Elizabeth towards training at ArtsEd where she continued to devise, create and foster new work. 

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

From the offset we agreed to always test out any ideas that both of us came up with, we tried everything and always said yes. This was really beneficial  as it helped to move the play dynamically through various times and places. 

In the early stages we were both inspired by music. We created a large Spotify playlist, this sparked new ideas that we could try out in the rehearsal room. Music has been a big part of our whole process and we continually use it to inspire and develop our work. We decided to make the playlist public as we wanted to create a mood for the show, each song feels like it’s part of the characters history. You can listen to it here at: 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our first show under Illuminate Productions but we hope to continue creating work that is honest, truthful and alive. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope the audience will feel a range of emotions with the characters. They will see a rollercoaster of a relationship and the audience are there every step of the way. Jim and Lucy present themselves as strong independent individuals however when they meet for the first time they never truly behave as themselves. They are constantly living under the pretence of a behaviour that they deem to be “correct” or “socially appropriate”. We hope audiences see elements of themselves in the characters and relate the story in front of them to their own lives. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

From an acting and directing point of view we wanted to create a clear journey of the relationship, with all of its ugly and beautiful parts. It’s a play about communication and (mis)communication. To highlight this aspect, we played with space and movement. At the beginning of the play, the two characters operate in their own space, don't interact with each other and use the audience as a mediator. Later on in the play, the stylistic decisions to keep the characters in sync highlights the idea of unity. 

We made a decision early on in the process to talk to the audience directly, using them to help the characters navigate through the story. To achieve this, we keep the house lights on the audience, removing the idea that the audience sit in the dark quietly whilst the actors perform out to a black abyss with bright lights shining in their eyes. Instead, we want to directly interact and talk to our audience, we want to make them feel a part of the characters lives. 

The story is simple, honest and truthful and we want to mirror this by the way it is performed. We have stripped back on all huge production elements, we made a choice to have all our props on show and the music is changed on stage, in full view of the audience. As a performer this is a vulnerable situation to be in, you can see all of your audience in full light, you see every reaction and thought across their faces. However it is these very reactions that we feed off to bring the story alive. We are open with the audience and we want them to be open with us.

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