Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Course of True Dramaturgy: SE Theatre @ Edfringe 2017

The Course of True Love is a reinterpretation of some of Shakespeare’s best-loved scenes woven together to create a new story about two young lovers. Together, they explore the different stages of their relationship: from the fiery passion of novelty to the cold staleness of repetition.

The Course of True Love has been created by Elliott Wallis and Simão Vaz, who are both alumni of the Year Out Drama Company, Stratford-upon-Avon. The play comes to the Fringe direct from the Bard’s home town, where audiences called it “Mesmeric”, “Haunting” and “Explosive”.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Simão and I trained together four years ago with the Year Out Drama Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and we would often go on crazy rambles, pitching shows. We still do that, in fact. We knew back then that we wanted to work with each other, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that we decided to do something about it. I wanted to explore directing, and I wanted a challenge, something that would stretch me a bit. 

Having trained in Shakespeare’s hometown his work seemed like an obvious choice to start with. It has been proved that Shakespeare’s plays are as relevant today as they were when they were written, but we wanted to do something different with it. Simão came up with the idea of exploring the theme of ‘love’ through his words and this soon developed into ‘The Course of True Love’. The thought of taking scenes that people were very familiar with but then using them in a completely different way, in a new story was a really thrilling idea.

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

Yes, definitely. People are being more adventurous and taking more risks, particularly in fringe theatre, and I think the idea of fringe theatre is a lot more popular now than ever before. During our previews in Stratford we asked our audiences for feedback, and most people wanted to go away and think about the piece before talking too us about it – hopefully that’s a good thing!

How did you become interested in making performance?

I’ve always wanted to work in theatre, and I’m so grateful that I’m beginning to make a career of it. The interest in creating our own work I think comes from the freedom it brings. You can tell what ever story you want in the way that you want too. It’s yours. Having said that it is also to do with how tough it is to get paid work!

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

New work is always challenging. It’s only a two person show and because we’ve taken scenes from various plays, these two new characters are made up of so many existing (and well known) characters. Our actors have had to create from scratch so I wanted the rehearsal process to be a collaborative creative one. It helped that one of the actors is Simão, and he wrote the script. We brought Imogen Parker (the other actor) into the process in May, so she became a big part of shaping the play and this story. She has been wonderful to work with in the rehearsal room because she’s not afraid to try things. There are certain, difficult moments in the show that we had to play around with and both Imogen and Simão were open to trying anything until we got it right.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Well this is our first one so we’ll have to see! However, I’d like to explore actor-musician work and immersive theatre in the future. Or maybe both at the same time! I have a few ideas. We’d also like to further develop this show after Edinburgh. There’s only so much you can say in 45 minutes and this story is so much bigger than we first anticipated so watch this space!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
There were some people in Stratford who tried to spot all the plays we use – no one has guessed them all correctly yet – so maybe people will have fun with that! But it’s quite a rollercoaster of emotions! I hope, most importantly, that they will follow the new story that we’ve created and that they will find it relatable. 

I want to show how relevant Shakespeare can be to modern society and hopefully that will translate to our audience. We’re trying to do something a bit different with classic text and I hope people find the piece exciting and enjoy experiencing this story.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Our main challenge was making sure that our story translated and that people weren’t constantly thinking about the play that each scene is from. To do that we had to completely strip down the scenes and take Shakespeare’s’ original plots out of our minds. The play is sort of in three acts (even though it’s 45 minutes with no interval), and each one is quite different. 

Act One is very romantic and slightly comedic. It’s
very light hearted. Acts Two and Three are, well, without giving too much away, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. So these two acts are a big contrast to Act One, and I found the bigger the contrast, the more impact certain moments have.

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