Monday, 7 August 2017

Quids in Dramaturgy: Annie James @ Edfringe 2017

All Cashed In by Annie James and Jamie Rodden

What happens when your life seems to mirror that of your musical hero? Greg Moncur is convinced that his obsession with singer Johnny Cash is dictating events in his own life. Coincidence? Or is there a master plan? Can he convince everyone that he has a theory and isn’t mad?

Find out in this light hearted comedy incorporating live performance of some of Johnny Cash’s greatest tracks in this original tribute to The Man in Black.

What was the inspiration for the show?

As a writer in residence with Quids In Theatre Company, I have always been interested in mixing genres- creating theatre from unusual ingredients. I wanted to create a tribute to an musical artist that was different from the usual tribute shows of just singing the songs they made famous but incorporated the songs into theatre. 

I was lucky enough to be working with a guy who was both a fantastic singer and a great actor so we created the piece about an ordinary guy obsessed by the music of his hero.  The show blends comedy with an unusual concept- that we are all reliving events that have already been lived by someone else- while giving some information about the life of Johnnie Cash, and an interpretation of the songs that the audiences say sounds exactly like him.  Hopefully this different approach will give an interestingly different interpretation.

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

Performance is an still an excellent place to raise issues or ideas and present the audience with one approach, or interpretation that the writer, director and actors share.  This can then focus the audience on thinking about whether they agree or disagree with the views expressed in the show and at a later date, the show may form the starting point for other discussions the audience will undertake with this new awareness.

How did you become interested in making performance?

As a professional theatre company with the mission of bringing innovative theatre at affordable prices to audiences that might not be traditional theatre goers, we are committed to looking for new interpretations of events, issues and interesting characters to inspire different audiences to attend live theatre in a time when access to film is increasingly popular.

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

As a writer, I begin with the concept or idea which has been discussed with the rest of the company.  The show make be created for a number of different reasons, to celebrate the anniversary of an event, to raise awareness of a relevant issue, or even to make use of the talents of particular actors. As the shows are written specifically for a known company, and often with cast in mind before it's written, this allows them to be very personal and tell the story in a unique way.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

We are a very diverse theatre company producing unusual combination of ingredients and often site specific theatre for specific events such as medieval mysteries, or zombie apocalypse stories or even historical theatrical reenactments of events such as memorial theatre for the anniversary of  the Titanic or community pieces to remember local heroes.  We are always looking for new interesting ways to tell our stories.

What is it you hope the audiences will experience?

We hope the audience will be primarily be entertained. That they will enjoy the opportunity to hear the classic Cash songs again and think about the message he gave forty years ago as the Man in Black, which is still relevant today and that they will give some thought to the nature of experience. Is there anything new in this world or are we all just repeating things already done by someone else but as it says in the show, with 'bits of your own original spice added' ?

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We considered things that would add to the experience of listening to the music.  We created a believable, sympathetic character who the audiences can relate to who had a story to tell.  The use of comedy to highlight some of the ridiculous situations again makes the character likeable and sympathetic. The interpretation of the character adds to the show as does the development of the second character: someone who is initially unsympathetic but who is converted during the course of the show to the idea of reliving lives and experiences had by others which leads the ways for the audience to do the same.

Quids In Theatre Company are an independent theatre company based in Aberdeen, known for their innovative and original theatre productions. They spend much of their time bringingoriginal site specific theatre to the citizens of Aberdeen and TIE to their children through their primary outreach.

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