Monday, 21 August 2017

We are Dramaturgy: In Bed with My Brother @ Edfringe 2017

It’s 1989. Manchester. A frenzy of drugs, beats and bucket hats. Illegal raves and acid parties. Jumping up and down in a field and throwing two fingers to Thatcher… Remember it? 

Cus we don’t. 

We weren’t even born. But Ian was. Ian remembers. Ian reckons we’ve got fuck all now. So let’s go back to the 80s, neck a brown biscuit and bounce around like idiots. Ian’s gonna show us how… 

The award-winning cult hit of 2016 is back
What was the inspiration for this performance?
Ian. Ian’s Dora’s step-dad. He asked us to make a show about his life. He wanted a massive 6-part Drama but we had different ideas. After a few beer-fuelled conversations in the pub, we became really interested in his experiences of the Acid House movement. He was our age back then. 

And also our experiences as young people now, living in a similar political climate. The show’s pretty hyper and funny like Ian. We wanted to make a show that expressed Ian as a person as well as talk about his experiences past. And we wanted to make something that he’d like. He says that he does like it, and that makes us proud.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas
Yes. It’s a great space to present other people’s stories and lives and make other people listen; allowing people to empathise with other’s perspectives. Typically the Theatre isn’t a place where Ian’s voice would be heard, and we thought it was important to have his voice as the only one heard in the show. 

We also draw attention to the politics of 1989 and now and how the decisions of Tory governments have affected young people. We don’t think lecturing audiences is ever a good idea. We believe performance should be above all entertaining – we like to catch the audience off guard a little bit with the politics of our piece.

How did you become interested in making performance
All three of us are massive show-offs. We’re performing all the time. We all studied Drama together at University which is where we started showing-off together. We knew if we wanted to carry on being massive idiots and making shows, we’d do it together. 

We also first started to become interested in the same kinds of performance at University; physical clowny stuff and live art – and that stays with us now.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show
We genuinely can’t remember how we made this show. It’s all a big haze of us all shouting and laughing and crying in a sweaty room together. We don’t really have a ‘process’ I guess that comes from us all being mates. 

We’ve been making and changing WE ARE IAN for about 2 years now, it’s constantly developing. We perform things that we think are fun. If it’s not fun for us, then it’s probably not fun for an audience.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This is sort-of our first show. We made a sort-of installation, short cabaret style performance before this one – which was a grotesque, syrupy bouffon thing which stemmed from Kat finding video tapes from a Theatre school she used to go to as a kid. I guess we make work that’s sort of weird and visceral rather than narrative based. 

And we don’t do scripts and dialogue and stuff. Rather than words, considering the charge of mediums such as music or video – we often try to piece together found-footage to create a feeling or understanding of a person or time.

What do you hope that the audience will experience
Loads. We want the audience to experience loads and loads. We want them to experience a real rollercoaster or emotions (awkward cliché alert) reflecting both the highs and lows of the Acid House movement. But yeah, WE ARE IAN is kind of visceral… just us dancing and sweating and really giving it some. We hope it rubs off a bit on the audience.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We want to show the audience rather than outline or state what we’re trying to say. We want the audience to feel. WE ARE IAN is completely scored by big, loud, soulful House classics and we use the music to convey the hyper happy times, but also there are also loads of bassy, sinister tracks that we use to show what it felt like when everything went to shit. The music takes us and the audience through the acid house movement and in this we’ve found that the lyrics, beats and rhythm often reflected the political angst felt by the young people back then. 

The house movement, essentially formed around people getting up – dancing and defiantly having fun despite the grey political and social landscape thrust upon them. We wanted to give our audience the opportunity to do that now – in our own political landscape (arguably also pretty grey). Which is why audience interaction and involvement is at the heart of WE ARE IAN. They join us in every step, discovering the drugs, the music and the dance moves – and when we arrive back in 2017, it is their decision whether or not raving is a communally political act.

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