Monday, 7 August 2017

Mary Queen of Dramaturgy: Phil Bartlett @ Edfringe 2017

'There’s two rules: first, the person you choose must be dead. And second, you have to be dressed up to get in.’ It’s Thursday night in the Prince Arthur and their latest theme night is in full swing. Landlady Liz is run off her feet, whilst husband Barry struggles to get into his new costume. 

Elsewhere in London, a young woman from Edinburgh steps off a train, determined to make her dreams a reality. Fast-paced and irreverent, Marie is a darkly comic new play inspired by the life of Mary Queen of Scots, but given a distinctly modern twist.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The show was born from twin desires of Sarah [MacGillivray, performer] - she wanted to create a one-woman show to test herself as a maker and performer, and she was also interested in learning more about Mary Queen of Scots. 

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

I think that, yes, performance can be an excellent medium through which to explore ideas with an audience, though I'm not sure the performance itself is exactly a 'discussion'. Even if you have two or more different people onstage expressing or representing different viewpoints, the audience themselves are usually excluded from actually partaking in this conversation, then and there at least. 

What the performance can do is at as a springboard for further discussion after the performance is over, and that's one of the things we enjoy most about the process of creating and sharing stories - the conversations that happen afterwards in the bar.

How did you become interested in making performance?
We both trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the MA Classical and Contemporary Text programme, and I think our experience of that course has probably shaped the style of this piece in some ways - whilst it's in some ways a devised piece, in terms of structure we very much approached it as a script containing two intertwining narratives. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Anne Bogart uses the phrase 'exquisite pressure' to refer to how sometimes the best work in a rehearsal process happens when you haven't quiiite got enough time to do everything you need to, so people have to rise to the challenge and amazing things occur (I'm paraphrasing and probably also misremembering). We had the initial idea for a one-woman show about Mary Queen of Scots back in January, but as recently as June we had no script and seriously thought we might end up cancelling. Luckily, that didn't happen!

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is the first time we've created a new piece together, but we have a kind of familiarity and short-hand from other projects we've been involved in together which has definitely helped.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We set out to make a piece that was unpretentious, unpredictable and truthful, and which told a really good story. I hope we've hit most of those markers, and that audiences feel the same.

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