Friday, 4 August 2017

The Illusion of Dramaturgy: Mara Menzies @ Edfringe 2017

The illusion of Truth’ – Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe



After taking her successful show from the 2016 Fringe to many festivals around the world and collaborating with NGO’s, Mara Menzies returns to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year with a new story to tell.



Enter a world where Gods feast, dance and wander through forests. Reaching into the pantheon of African Orishas (Yoruban mythology), performance storyteller Mara Menzies explores our relationship with truth, intention and powerlessness wrapped in the thin cloak of power. 

Edinburgh Fringe - Scottish Storytelling Centre, August 3-7, 13-17, 21-24 (13:30) Duration 1hr, £9.00 (£7.00) (£28.00F)
credit Bibi June Schwithal

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for the story came about because I had found this incredible ancient myth that somehow encompassed everything that we see in the current political atmosphere where it is difficult to discern truth from fiction because we don't have access to multiple truths. I also love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk, 'The Danger of the Single Story' and felt it was time to explore what we consider to be truth and how we deal with it.  Doing this through ancient African mythology seemed to be an exciting way of exploring truth.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Performance, especially direct storytelling theatre that engages people and draws them into the piece directly is an incredibly valuable tool for discussing ideas. 'The Illusion of Truth' doesn't aim to provide answers, simply to enable the audience to decide for themselves through multiple characters sharing a variety of layered stories.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I became a storyteller, initially to ensure my children had access to the incredible stories from their African heritage but since then it has grown to encompass stories that explore themes such as identity, truth and how we become who we are. Storytelling and performance enables audiences to access worlds that they may not have otherwise imagined, to hear stories and experiences that may inform and inspire them, to challenge their own perspectives of people and place, all while having a bloody good time!

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

The main thing for me is the narrative. It has be strong and true to itself and if a story is adapted, then it is done so with respect and as much cultural accuracy as possible. Finding a great team is essential. To play with ideas, to give an alternative eye, to simply support.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

The Illusion of Truth is an ancient mythology from a living, vibrant pantheon of deities worshipped around the world. We are sharing some of their stories in without live percussion which is unusual and we are incorporating an eclectic soundtrack which we think brings something exciting to the production. 

This is the first show that we have performed in the round which is terrifying and exciting and wonderful. Each production we have made to date is different and depends on the narrative, the origin of the story, the audience to whom you anticipate telling to, the team putting it together and more. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope that audiences will leave questioning
their own relationship with truth. We are also really excited to introduce audiences to the Orishas where a fundamental belief is that there is no right or wrong, good or bad but simply that sometimes things get out of balance and have to be realigned. We also hope to challenge perceptions of storytelling as theatre or as a powerful performance tool in its own right. 
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?


Storytelling by its nature involves close, intimate interaction with the audience and the circular set up of the space brings the audience together, so in a sense they take part in the performance but also are able to watch each other. There is something of the sacred in a circle and within the piece, spirals and circles are an essential part of that experience. 

Enter a world where Gods feast, dance and wander through forests. Reaching into the pantheon of African Orishas (Yoruban mythology), performance storyteller Mara Menzies explores our relationship with truth, intention and powerlessness wrapped in the thin cloak of power. How does society control its decision-making when exposed to so many alternative facts? A young man obsessed with joining the ranks of deities, seizes an opportunity to appease himself to the Gods. An innocent misunderstanding leads to disastrous consequences when seemingly justifiable actions are taken without full knowledge of the facts.

Edinburgh based, Kenyan/Scottish storyteller, Mara uses her shows not simply to tell a story, but to engage the audience in powerful issues such as FGM, sexism and racism through the art of storytelling. Taking the medium of storytelling back to its roots, used to pass on information and inform younger generations. Mara brings her passion to the stage as she spreads the knowledge through her stories with a contemporary twist of an electronic soundscape to engage with audiences of all ages.

Last month Mara performed a taster of her new show ‘The Illusion of Truth’ at the British Library in London for Africa Writes 2017 to a sell-out audience and received much acclaim.

Don’t miss this show which addresses highly topical issues at
Scottish Storytelling Centre, August 3-7, 13-17, 21-24 (13:30) Duration 1hr with ticket prices £9.00 (£7.00) (£28.00F). 3rd August preview £6.00 (£4.00) (£16.00F).





Edinburgh Fringe - Scottish Storytelling Centre, August 3-7, 13-17, 21-24 (13:30) Duration 1hr, £9.00 (£7.00) (£28.00F)


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