Sunday, 13 August 2017

Prettier Dramaturgy: Doug Will Do at Edfringe 2017

Prettier Things is a play about the sinister undertones of ‘boy meets girl’ narratives. Our protagonist has a sharp sense of
humour, questioning the validity of cheesecake flavours and office romances, yet the dialogue grows darker as it explores the complex manifestations of male entitlement issues in emotionally abusive relationships. We are proud to be collaborating with Women’s Aid on the piece.

Two strangers. The same bus route. The same city. Every day he’s there, just across the aisle. Smiling up at her as she falls, blushing, into a seat. Impossibly obvious with her messy hair and her ripped tights. Almost too dramatic a cliché. But there’s something sinister about the way he’s looking at her. Like he knows something. Like he knows how to hurt her.

Prettier Things begins as any romantic comedy might begin, with two strangers revelling in the ironic charm of the seemingly harmless clichés that have brought them together. However, as the sinister realities of the boy-meets-girl narrative are exposed, we begin to question why we’re often so quick to warm to these familiar romantic stereotypes. From the producer of Sleepless Theatre’s ‘mind-blowing’ (ThreeWeeks) The Master and Margarita comes a new play about the male gaze, entitlement issues, and the relatively minor inconveniences of public transport.

Venue: theSpace at Jury’s Inn, 43 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DH (Venue 260)
Time: 12:10 14-19 August, 15:10 21-26 August

What was the inspiration for this performance?
We wanted to create something that challenged the conventions of ‘boy meets girl’: a narrative which often romanticises problematic male behaviour. It was important for us to have a female protagonist who both recognises the sinister undertones of ‘belonging’ to someone, yet also acknowledges that she has internalised certain ideas about the nature of romantic relationships. ‘Prettier Things’ is our reaction to rom-com. We are probably exactly as bitter as we sound.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Definitely! ‘Prettier Things’ handles some very sensitive themes and we truly hope that it inspires discussion amongst our audiences post-performance. We believe in the importance of the underlying message of the play and feel privileged to have the opportunity to share it with people. Plus, the process of creating the play has been pretty therapeutic, if we’re honest.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I’ve always loved theatre, but given my highly limited acting abilities (the less said about some very regrettable sixth form performances the better), it wasn’t until university that drama production became a really huge part of my life.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
The script actually began as a short monologue for a scratch night, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we hadn’t quite finished telling a story and I knew I wanted to develop it further. I feel very lucky that Chloe Weare, who performed the monologue originally, agreed to join us in Edinburgh, along with our new (and equally talented) cast member Jack Waterman. Our approach to rehearsals has been fairly relaxed so far- it’s pretty essential that we retain our senses of humour given the nature of the material we’re working with.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is actually our first production as a new company, so it feels very fresh, but it certainly suits the style of work we’ve done previously as individuals. We’re just a bunch of angry women, really.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope that they will feel that they have seen a piece of theatre which handles emotionally abusive relationships responsibly. I hope that they will question some of the values they might hold. I hope that they will track down a cheesecake as delicious as the one described in the play.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
We wanted to make ‘Prettier Things’ feel personal to every member of the audience. With this in mind, we’re using the entire space rather than just the stage, with the actors connecting very directly at points with members of the audience. This works particularly well in a venue as intimate as ours.

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